Intimacy and Connection in a Struggling Relationship

Why do couples struggle to stay intimate?
This is a question that baffled me when I started working in this field. Many women would say to me “what do I do when the feelings in a marriage are gone?” or men I work with to save their marriage would share “when a marriage is over to one person can you get it back?” I wanted to know why when the feelings in a marriage are gone can they not be restored with focus and effort. The good news is they can, the problem is 3 main things stop couples from reconnecting which I will explain in this article.
Most people if asked: “Is intimacy in a relationship important to you?” Would answer yes absolutely yes.
Yet I found individuals and couples don’t even focus on it when they think the marriage is over!

Individuals need intimacy is it one of the basic human needs according to many psychologists and wellness experts. This is supported by Anthony Robbins who studied universal human needs and in the basic 4 needs was a need for love and connection. Dr Stonsy PhD claims that intimacy is also crucial to normal human functioning and can help ward off depression, aggression, and calm anxiety.

A relationship needs intimacy, otherwise it will slowly wither and die. Sadly I see this time and time again when individuals or couples come to me with their marriage in crisis there is always a break down in intimacy. Divorce statistics support this, lack of intimacy and connection is often to blame.

What amazes me is if we all value intimacy in a relationship and recognise it as important for a lasting loving close relationship. Then why aren’t couples able to restore it in relationships once it has been broken or lost?

There are 3 main reasons I have found for why couples struggle to get back their intimate connection when a relationship breaks down. I will outline them and give you some tips.

Men and Women View Intimacy Differently

One of key reasons why hetro-sexual couples find it hard to get intimacy back is because
men and women have differing views of what it means to be intimate. Having helped countless couples save their marriage now, I often ask men and women separately what does being intimate mean to you? On average here are the answers (of course there are always exceptions).

For men intimacy is:
A physical connection
Foreplay
Holding hands, hugging and kissing
Physical time alone together
Sexual intimacy
Doing things together

For women intimacy is:
An emotional connection
Sharing important issues
Listening to things about their husband’s day
Being able to cry about emotional events and experiences together
Being emotionally aware when feelings are hurt
Knowing one another’s hopes and dreams

Men tend to associate intimacy as being physical, touching and sex and for women it is more about talking intimately face to face. Helen Fisher PhD claims that this is a “behavior that probably evolved millions of years ago when ancestral females spent days holding their infants up in front of them, soothing them with words. She found similar to me that Men, often regard intimacy as working or playing side by side”

2, Fear
Fear of intimacy play’s a huge factor in couples struggling to restore intimacy or even establish it in the first place.
Fear of getting hurt and being vulnerable can block emotional sharing and trust in a relationship.Fear of rejection can stop a relationship from being physically intimate again. Fear of failure or disappointment can prevent us from sharing our desires, dreams, hopes and expectations, so we settled for less. Fear of abandonment can prevent someone from being truly engaged. Fear of being engulfed and losing yourself in a relationship is another common reason men and women avoid intimacy. According to Hal Shorey Ph.D. Psychology today fearing intimacy and avoiding closeness in relationships is the norm for about 17% of adults in Western cultures.

Whilst we have these fears most marriage counsellors don’t address these fears, they will suggest “talking about your problems over and over again” which often ignites more fear. Which is why I always avoid having a couple sit together and go over the past problems, to save relationships you need to be focusing on establishing the connection, focusing on the future. What works is practical guidance and support on how to move forward and be intimate despite fears.

Changes Lives For the Better

Foster parenting is a term that almost everyone has heard of, but few realize what the steps are to becoming foster parents and why people decide to do so. If you have ever wondered what foster parenting means, here is a glimpse into this amazing world.

What is a Foster Parent?

In certain special cases, the state or a social service agency deems it would be in the best interests of children to be separated from the custody of their biological parents. This situation is temporary until the children and parents can be reunited at a later time once certain conditions have been met.

Foster parents fill the gap during this leave period by providing for the needs of the child through emotional support and care.

But the role of foster parents is much more than this.

They become a lifeline to children who are seeking genuine love, care, acceptance, and protection during their time of need. But as many foster parents can attest to, the experience is priceless due to the good that is generated towards and from the children they are caring for.

How Do You Become a Foster Parent?

First and foremost, prospective foster parents have caring hearts. Foster parenting is typified by acts of kindness and compassion towards children who find themselves in unfortunate situations that are beyond their control.

If you feel a prompting to help as a foster parent, the next step is to contact a local foster care organization to express your interest. A representative will meet with you and provide an overview of the program philosophy, mission statement, and the history of the agency and their commitment to children.

After these preliminary meetings, you may sign up for classes, which are offered to potential foster parents. The classes provide training and advice on the care of foster children. Once these classes are completed, an official application can be submitted, and the process of candidate evaluation begins.

A Rewarding Life Experience

It is said that giving is more blessed than receiving. This statement becomes a reality with foster parents and foster children. Close bonds can be formed during these times and the joy of helping young children reestablish their lives is fulfilling. And in the event that a child cannot be reunited with their biological parents, the process of adoption can possibly be made available.

Intent to break up our marriage

Dear Sara: In 2015, my husband of 25 years and I ended our marriage. We got married after only knowing each other for a few days, … and it was rocky due to the fact that he drank alcohol daily for self-medication. He was abusive on several occasions, but I felt that until I had tried in every way to make it work. I would not give up on the vows I took. This was my second marriage. His mother did not care for me. She moved up here, she told me, with the intent to break up our marriage. She was successful, and he lives with her now, even though he is 59 years old.

Other than the drinking, I loved him very much and am having trust issues now with any other man I meet. I just want to be happy, but after all those years, soon as the judge said we were divorced, he has not spoken to me at all. Why cant a friendship be salvaged from a lifetime of being a couple? It scares me that he is acting so cold and shows no concern for me in any way. Other than drinking, he was good about everything else. He was a hard worker, contributing to the home and all. How can love turn to hate? Do some people turn feelings off like a faucet? It makes me feel like I wasted my life, my youth and my love on someone who can just turn me off. I can’t help wondering if he ever thinks of me at all.

I want closure, and I did not get it from him. I cannot understand how such a change can occur in someone considering the volume of time we spent together. Any advice would be appreciated because I remain confused and do not trust men now. I have lived alone for two years now. Why am I still having feelings for someone who could treat me in such a cruel manner? I am in counseling but have only gone twice now. I have other interests but keep coming back to that question: WHY?? I think I have a right to know what I did to make him change, so I can move on.

I do not like living alone, but am maintaining except for that nagging question that, until answered, will not let me experience closure of that portion of my life. He left me right after my father passed away and my mom had died four years earlier. I needed him more at that time than ever and he let me down. He cheated on me during our marriage a few times. I never did because I made a promise not only to him but also to God, society and to myself that I would do my best to make the marriage work. I still feel love for him. I wonder if something is wrong with me because I still care for someone who now views me as yesterday’s garbage. I am an attractive, educated woman in good health. What could be so bad that would make him turn on me with no explanation whatsoever? I just do not get it and if I can’t get it, how can I get over it? — J

Dear J: I’m so sorry to hear you are going through all this. This is a tough and painful situation, so I think it might be useful to separate what you know from what you don’t know. You know that you had a difficult marriage and that your ex-husband had a lot of problems, like alcoholism, that have nothing to do with you. You know that he has cut off contact with you, but you don’t actually know how he is feeling right now. You’re assuming that his silence means that he no longer has any feelings for you, that your 25 years together meant nothing to him. But you don’t really know that. His silence could also be an indication that he is in a lot of pain too and that cutting off contact with you is his way of dealing with it. Maybe it’s just too painful for him to be friends with you. I’m not condoning his behavior—drinking is another way that people deal with painful emotions, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. I’m just saying that the two of you might have different ways of managing the trauma of your divorce.

Perfect Online Dating Tips

Most people who write their personal statement for their online dating profile do it entirely on their own, without ever asking for help from friends or family. The truth, however, is that asking for feedback from those who know you best is the best way to create a good dating profile.

When it comes to describing ourselves, we usually aren’t very objective. We often come across as too this or too that, which is why you should create a personal profile and send it two or three friends or family members for them to read. Ask those individuals for feedback, and you can use the questions below as a guide.

Do you sound confident or insecure?

Due to what’s called the social desirability bias, men and women have the tendency to present themselves in a manner that will be viewed favorably by others. Accordingly, most people try to make themselves appear as appealing as possible in a dating profile. That sounds like a good thing, right? The problem is that sometimes we try too hard, and that can actually come across as insecure. When you send your personal statement to your friend for review, ask if you come across as secure or insecure in the description. If you come across as insecure, you will either attract people who have emotional issues or you will turn off those who don’t.

Does your sense of humor come across? Is there too much or too little humor in your personal statement?

Showing your sense of humor is important because connecting in the humor department is a foundation for a long-term relationship. When you ask a friend for feedback, ask about how your humor comes across. Specifically, ask if it’s enough or too much. Also, ask if your humor in the profile comes across as funny, sweet, or sarcastic. While I know some men and women are especially drawn to individuals with a sarcastic flair, be warned that sarcasm also usually comes with personalities that are more competitive and angry. Unless you are sarcastic yourself and really value that in others, avoid using much sarcasm at all in your profile.

Many times, men and women talk about themselves in dating profiles in self-deprecating ways. The whole profile issue is awkward to begin with – like selling yourself as a door to door salesman – so the process of creating a perfect profile is inevitably challenging. But trying too hard to make yourself seem humble (and not too “into yourself”) is a risk for everyone, so ask your friends or family members for advice about how to seem humble without sounding too self-deprecating. The goal is to present yourself as an overall package, and to convey that you like yourself overall and feel confident that you are someone who will make a consistent and good partner.

Do you sound responsible or flaky?

As much as you want to come across as appealing in a profile, you also should remember to hit the crucial items on the metaphoric relationship checklist. For a relationship to work, two partners will need to be reliable, honest, and kind. Make sure that your profile reflects the kind of person you are not just in your dating life, but in your work and overall social life. You don’t need to say “I’m always on time” but you can say something like “I’m a responsible person and I’m looking for someone who isn’t flaky.” This type of statement sends a clear message that you know yourself and that you also know what you want in another person. Ask for feedback from a friend about whether your profile reflects where you fall on the responsible/flaky spectrum.

The Wrong Physical Type or the Wrong Emotional Type

If you have found that your dates aren’t turning into full-blown relationships, the problem may relate to the kinds of people you’re seeking out. Specifically, I’m talking about your “type.” There are two different ways that you could be looking for the wrong types. You could either be going for the wrong physical type or the wrong emotional type. Let me explain because it’s not always as clear as it sounds on the surface.

Your Physical Type:

When you think about the people you seek out in dating, do they have a specific physical type? Do you tend to go for men or women with a specific physical description? For example, do you tend to look for people with a specific body type or hair color? Do you restrict yourself to a specific age range that is different from your own (e.g., you look to date older or younger people)? Do the people you date have a specific physical style? For example, do you tend to date people who have, say, tattoos or piercings, or dress in what the young ones call an “emo style”? Do you only go for the clean-cut, straight-from-the-Mayflower-ship type? When you are dating, spend some time thinking about the physical traits you’re attracted to because you might need to extend your type.

Your Emotional Type:

How would you describe the emotional type of the people you’re attracted to? Self-disclosure alert: Until I had years of therapy myself, I was drawn to narcissists – those who were emotionally unavailable, thought they were God’s gift to the world, and always focused on themselves and their wants and needs more than my own. When we talked, they weren’t terribly interested in what happened during my day.

For you, what emotional types draw you in? Ask yourself if you are attracted to any of the following types: alpha types who take charge; quiet, passive types who go along with what you want; sarcastic types who have an “edge;” depressive, wounded-soul types; serious introverts; the “life of the party;” spontaneous, slightly wild types; or maybe even know-it-all types? Think about what the common thread is in the emotional type of the people you have been drawn to in the past.

When you are dating the wrong type of person – either the wrong physical type or emotional type – you will discover a pattern that your dates aren’t turning into relationships. Perhaps you go on a lot of first or second dates, but nothing happens after that, or perhaps your dating relationships last a month or two but don’t turn into long-term relationships replete with the official “boyfriend” or “girlfriend” title. Another way that you can tell that you’re dating the wrong type is when you get feedback from friends or family and they tell you outright that you keep choosing the wrong people.

How to get unstuck from dating the wrong type:

What is the most clear-cut solution to the problem of having dates that never turn into long-term relationships? Plain and simple, try dating people whom you would never have imagined yourself with before (as long as they are decent, upstanding people). Give that guy who is a little overweight a chance, or ask out the woman who has an ethnicity or cultural background that you have never dated before.

Openness and flexibility equal wisdom when it comes to finding a relationship.

People are remarkably similar at their core, regardless of the color of their skin, the amount of money they have, or how physically attractive or unattractive they are at first glance. Deep down, we all want the same thing: someone who loves us consistently, and someone we can trust to be there for us in the future. The best advice I can give you is to accept or initiate a first date with someone you think is kind, and someone whose company you enjoy. Find someone who makes you laugh or makes you feel safe, someone you would call when you have a bad day or need a hug. As silly as that may sound, it is a positive and comforting emotional connection that will keep two people together through the inevitable storms of life.