The Delicate Balance of Closeness in Marriage

It goes without saying that it is good for a husband and wife to be close to one another.  Establishing and maintaining an emotional intimacy based on bondedness and connectedness should be a priority in every marriage.  In order to achieve this objective, couples must foster successful communication, honesty, openness, tenderness and related qualities.  This should be the expectation and goal of every union.

However, it is also possible for a husband and wife to become overexposed to one another.  Hyper-familiarity can take the edge off affection in a marriage.  Closeness is important in a relationship - even critical.  But, there must also be a balance.  Total emotional dependence and extreme emotional independence will both harm a relationship over time.

Here are some tips to finding the right balance with respect to closeness in your marriage...

(1)  Meet each others needs... and your own.  We all have needs that we rely on our spouse to meet (e.g. communication, companionship, affection, sexual fulfillment).  However, you err if you conclude that your spouse is entirely responsible for your happiness and emotional well-being.  Both husband and wife should strive to meet the others dominant needs.  But, each must take responsibility to nurture their own individual identity, interests, friendships, and so forth.

(2)  Suffocation versus mystification.  Often when people feel that closeness or communication is suffering in their marriage the natural reaction is to hover over their spouse and literally force the issue.  More times than not this will drive your spouse further away rather than draw him/her closer.  There's a better way!  Instead of suffocating your spouse with your demands try to incorporate mystery and intrigue back into the marriage.  The mystique and surprise that attracted you and you spouse to each other in the first place can be eroded by over-communication and over-exposure.

(3)  Continual romantic excitement is a myth.  Many people enter marriage with idealistic and unrealistic expectations about romantic love.  In so doing, they place a tremendous burden and pressure on their spouse to keep that magical feeling alive indefinitely.  This can be a stressful and frustrating experience.  Continual romantic excitement does not and cannot occur.  It is a myth of our culture that is perpetuated by the entertainment industry.  In reality, romance and passion ebb and flow over the the course of a marriage.  Certainly it's good and fun to foster and stimulate romance at times.  But demanding it perpetually is neither fair to your partner nor healthy to your relationship.

(4)  Marriages must breathe.  Just as passion and romance ebb and flow over the course of a relationship, so too will closeness and emotional intimacy be stronger at times and more distant at others.  This is actually a characteristic of a healthy marriage.  It is certainly not good for a relationship to swing wildly from one extreme to the other.  This notwithstanding, you should not be shocked or overly concerned when a natural "breathing" in the closeness between you and your mate occurs.  Seasons of relative distance can actually strengthen attraction and affection and cause the relationship to be more solid overall.

(5)  Self-control is critical.  When feeling emotionally neglected many people instinctively resort to griping, accusing, nagging and complaining in an effort to communicate their feelings.  Think about this logically.  Has anyone ever been inspired to greater intimacy or sensitivity from being attacked in this manner?  Or course not.  It has the very opposite effect.  As the saying goes, you can attract more flies with honey than with vinegar.  Honesty and openness are vital to a successful marriage.  But this does not require that you verbalize every negative thought that comes in to your mind.  Exercise some self-control over your thoughts, expectations, words, actions, conduct, and attitude.
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