Just How Much Intimacy?

Cats cuddling

By Jerry Sander, LCSW

The weather is changing. The heat of summer is slowly easing; something crisp and enlivening is awaiting. We are invited to consider change.

Just beneath the surface of the stories a couple offer when they are in couples therapy is the simmering question: just how much intimacy is each person looking for? And what would that look like? What is her/his capacity for vulnerability and self-disclosure? What did s/he get used to seeing from their parents, growing up? And what amount of being “close enough” will suffice for them now?

The challenge comes when the couple discovers differing hopes and expectations from the person they’ve committed to. In fact, it is rare to find couples completely aligned with each other in this regard. This doesn’t mean that disaster awaits. If they are willing to listen, learn and share with each other they can discover the wisdom in having made the adjustments they made in becoming who they are. They can negotiate a healthy zone of connection in their lives together that features both time together and time alone, a healthy sexual connection, supportive emotional exchanges, enjoyable physical activities and adventures together and even a spiritual connection.

This doesn’t happen automatically just because people love each other. (Sorry, John Lennon and Paul McCartney: “All you need is love” was a fun song but is highly misleading. It might be true on the largest of levels, in soft focus. Most of us need skills, housing, money, a rewarding job, etc.)

Couples therapy can help people address the disconnect and consider the prospect of greater intimacy together.

Listen to our podcast about this topic, click here.