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INTIMACY … in PERSPECTIVE
(Resource: The Relationship Handbook, by George S. Pransky, Ph.D)

What we all yearn for is a feeling of closeness (intimacy, if you will) with our fellow beings … especially with our own family members. Intimacy tends to come naturally when in the presence of another … as long as positive thoughts/ feelings exist between the two of you. It has been felt that communication is the key … however, this is true only to the extent that it is used as a "vehicle" through which we express positive/ respectful feelings. (The couple told the counselor they had a "communication problem." They said they had bad feelings toward each other. The counselor responded, "It’s a good thing your communication is poor. Just think how terrible you’d feel if you could get your ill feelings across to each other." -- from The Relationship Handbook) To use an analogy, the water you drink comes into your home through a pipe. If that water is dirty/ filthy and you drink it, what effect would it have on your body? The pipe is like the communication you have with another person. The water is like the feelings you express to that person. What effect do you think unloading bad/ ill feelings would have on the other person?

All-too-often we are a slave to our moods, and the feelings we express are a reflection of our mood at that moment. For instance, say you get up late. In your rush you nick yourself shaving. You have to jump the car to get it started and are further delayed in a traffic jam. You get to the office and find a document your boss has asked you to read/report on in a couple hours. At this point (in this mood), how do you think you’d respond (react) to a fellow co-worker who gives you a snide remark? Just understanding how our moods impact our feelings/ emotions can give us the perspective we need to keep us, when we are in a low mood, from reacting in a negative/ harsh manner. This understanding will also help us not to take another’s negative feelings too personally.

In a low mood, we tend to see only the bad/ negative in a person or situation. Invariably, most people/ situations we encounter are mostly good, and just a little bad. Increased understanding/ perspective enables us to see all the good (and not just the bad). Realize you cannot "coax" someone out of a bad mood. Just be understanding and take nothing (negative) they say too personally. Moods are like the weather … they change. The key to even greater perspective … to seeing more of the good/ positive in a person/ situation, is having an attitude of gratitude. Think of all you can about this person or situation that you can be/ are grateful for … and the innate positive feelings you naturally harbor will "surface." These feelings will "invite" that intimacy you both yearn for!

For married couples, intimacy will include intimate physical contact. The book, Between Husband & Wife: Gospel Perspectives on Marital Intimacy, gives some insight – “Generally speaking, the quality of marital intimacy is related to the quality of the marriage relationship. Couples who struggle in their marriages tend to avoid physical contact, while happily married people find physical intimacy to be a natural expression of their feelings. Strengthening the love that exists between a couple will normally increase their desire for a healthy sexual relationship. Happily married couples find that physical touches—kisses, hugs, embraces, massages, sexual relations—provide enjoyment and therapy in the marriage.”

(also read: "How Couples Communicate")

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