Relationship Advice: A Brief Primer on Emotional Intimacy

In order to experience the gifts of emotional intimacy, you need to share the deepest parts of yourself with your spouse/partner while maintaining a separate sense of self–to give of yourself without permanently surrendering your core identity. This balancing act (the need for healthy boundaries coexisting side-by-side with a need to connect deeply with another) can be a real challenge for all of us.

Emotional sharing is serious business and it is essential for you and your spouse/partner to appreciate just how vulnerable you each become during these moments—a vulnerability that can create a deep emotional connection or lead to emotional wounding (depending on how you react to each other’s vulnerability).

Emotional Intimacy: Why Intimacy Falters

Marital conflict and misunderstandings are a natural part of every marriage and relationship. When misunderstandings go unresolved and negative feelings mount, the tendency is to move into a self-protective mode—we begin to guard our inner world so closely that authentic relatedness and emotional sharing is virtually impossible.

In these instances, emotional wounds end up eroding trust and the openness that are prerequisites for intimacy.

Both ways of relating—giving too much of yourself (abandoning healthy boundaries) or giving too little of yourself (remaining in self-protective mode) —can result in marital dissatisfaction and relationship problems.

The ultimate goal is to achieve a level of emotional sharing that works for you, your spouse/partner and the relationship.

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