HEALTHY LIVING: intimacyINTIMACY. Hummmmmm? Now, that I have your attention. I’m talking about the family’s intimacy…
By: Diedre Plude, licenced psychologist, Living North Magazine
INTIMACY. Hummmmmm? Now, that I have your attention. I’m talking about the family’s intimacy, and oftentimes the root of family intimacy is the ability to get together, problem solve, forgive, show affection, nurture, validate and move on (not holding grudges).
Summer is upon us all and we’re in the second month of our kids on summer vacation. Even with our struggling economy, we parents and couples can deepen the intimacy in our family. We don’t have to spend money to get together, solve problems and forgive. It’s easier to talk to our family as we are doing activities. Simple things like skipping rocks on the lake; building sand castles on the beach; riding bikes; hiking Duluth’s trails; going for a car ride and eating an ice cream cone; watching the ore boats come in; flying kites and walking on the board walk. That way, the conversation doesn’t sound like a lecture. Another way to deepen intimacy is for the heads of the household to get a sitter and either learn new sports or activities, laugh or joke with each other.
The starting point in the development of intimacy is with the heads of the household. The family first starts out with a wife, a husband and/or partners. Relationships begin with infatuation and over the years intimacy builds. The adults continue to deepen the intimacy by having challenging and fun times together.
As the family grows, responsibilities grow and the need is ever more important to continue on the path of deepening intimacy. It seems to be contrary that problems could build intimacy, but it’s true.
So are you thinking that the more problems we have, the deeper our intimacy? Well, I hear many people, who have been married for a long time tell me “You know, we have really been through a lot and we’re not going to throw it away and start over.” When either a problems arises or we feel that an opinion is being forced upon us, we need to discuss the problem, give our points of view; take responsibility for our part of the problem; and then each of the adults exchanges their solution. Seems easy, huh?
Well it’s not. But if we don’t allow it to become a drama and keep our tone of voice down, things can work. When we hear the tone of voice raise, stop and take a time out. This usually causes people to turn away from and not toward their partner. Agree to meet at a certain time, then go away and develop a new strategy to approach the problem. Letting things settle down and then turning towards each other for a solution, builds intimacy. Compromise can often take time to find and this may take several discussions over days and/or weeks.
Not all problems can be solved quickly. In intimacy, there are no manipulations. A win/lose solution does not work. We re-evaluate and bargain on the job. It is surprising how this works in families too. We need to take each other literally, respectfully, while allowing the grudge/resentment to dissipate. This way we can apologize sincerely and accept the apology lovingly.
It isn’t always harmful for our children to hear parts of this process. They usually will hear some of it, anyway. If you tell them you worked it out, they will learn that these conflicts can be resolved reasonably. Then they can go to school, without fear and anxiety and can be reassured that all is well. Our kids need to hear us go through this process, so when they have issues with friends and later on in life with their own family, they will be more confident in themselves, without the need for drama.
We model to our children that adults have problems, just like they have problems with their friends. Lets be honest with ourselves. Who taught us about intimacy? We pretty much have followed what we saw as kids and that is just how parents behave. All in all, our parents showed us their model. We either follow that model or try, in our own way, to build intimacy. This may or may not be working.
I truly believe that if you take these approaches, it can benefit both your relationship, as well as your children’s future relationships. The building blocks for an intimate family include the following: spending time together with and without the kids, constructively addressing problems and reassuring our family that solutions and compromises can be found. The wonderful thing about building this type of closeness and intimacy is that many times this can lead to physical displays of intimacy as well.
This article is brought to you by the licensed mental health professionals at Arrowhead Psychological Clinic, PA. You can reach them at (218) 723-8153 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.