Identifying the Barriers to Marital Intimacy
Marriage is supposed to be a bond that is so close that two people become one. Marriage should ideally be a place where you feel free to show your true self, knowing that your partner will love and accept you as you are. However, it is also the union of two imperfect humans. What makes it more complicated is that there are other factors that can affect a marriage and its intimacy – issues with money, raising up children, dealing with in-laws and so on.
But if a married couple wants to enjoy more intimacy or to at least maintain a certain level of intimacy, they need to work at these barriers. Mind you, intimacy is not just about the sexual aspect of the relationship. More than that, it is “being one” on other levels – emotionally and intellectually.
The first step to building intimacy is to identify some of the barriers that prevent a couple’s closeness. By being pro-active, you can know what hinders you and your spouse from achieving the level of intimacy you want and work from there. Here are some barriers that rob the joy from (and could potentially destroy) a marriage:
Lack of self awareness. The adage, “Know thyself.” is a challenge, but it is necessary in building intimacy between you and your spouse. The more we know ourselves (our strengths, our weaknesses, our desires), the more we are able to share these to our spouse. We also tend to be more comfortable, more in control about ourselves and our actions and reactions when we are more self-aware. To help prevent lack of self-awareness from rearing its ugly head, we need to take it upon ourselves to deal with unresolved emotional and psychological issues that we have, as we proceed towards knowing more and more about ourselves. If you need some help with this, you can consider going for some personal counseling. Counseling can help us deal with emotional baggage, as well as our unmet needs (and how we can communicate this to our spouse)
Lack of communication. Intimacy involves communication – the sharing of what we feel, who we are, what we think. Without communication, our spouse will not know us on a deeper level, and vice versa. Also, when we fail to communicate how we feel, as we often do when we don’t want to rock the boat, feelings of resentment and bitterness can pile up and even explode at unexpected times.
Problems with physical intimacy. A couple may have issues with sexual compatibility or physical intimacy. Even though sex is just one aspect of a couple’s intimacy, a satisfying sex life can bring a couple closer and forge a bond. A problem with physical intimacy (i.e. wrong concepts about sex, fear of being touched, etc.) can lead to sexual dissatisfaction. Those who have issues with physical intimacy may benefit from couples therapy in Provo, where an experienced counselor can help you explore the reasons behind these issues.
Lack of time. The tyranny of the urgent. Pressing commitments, demands for attention from children, deadlines from work – all these eat up time. Building intimacy also needs time – time for you to enjoy and experience each other, time for you to simply sit and communicate. Often, it may demand for you to set priorities. Make it a point to set time just for the both of you.
Infidelity. The loss of trust brought on by infidelity may be a hard barrier to overcome. Trust has to be earned back and this may take some work and time, as well as some marriage therapy.
Conflicts. When you are at odds with each other, this will naturally affect your closeness as a couple. Conflicts may cover a wide range of concerns – money, priorities, incompatibility with your core values and so on.
Addictions. Substance abuse problems (drugs and alcohol), as well as other addictions (pornography, gambling, etc.) can suck a lot of positive energy from a relationship. The other partner’s pre-occupation is with the addiction and this negatively impacts the relationship. Sexual intimacy is affected by a partner’s addiction to pornography – where the other partner is left with feelings of insecurity while the other partner has to deal with unmet expectations compounded by feelings of guilt. You may need to consider getting Utah substance abuse counseling for the partner who is addicted.
The good news is that a couple can rise above barriers to intimacy. It may be a challenge but it can be done. With the help of an experienced marriage counselor, you can take the first step towards breaking down these barriers and starting the never-ending journey of becoming one.
If you are located in Provo, Utah, do visit Dr. Triston Morgan. Dr. Morgan has years of marriage counseling and therapy under his belt. As a therapist licensed to practice in Utah, he has been helping couples strengthen their marriage bonds and enjoy a deeper level of intimacy.