The Secret to Emotional Intimacy

I've been to Boston about 8 times.  During my first four visits, I went as a 'TOURIST".

We saw the Green Monster at Fenway, toured the city in a Duck Boat, walked the Freedom Trail and ate, drank and shopped at Faneuil Hall.

I thought Boston was a beautiful city and enjoyed my time there - but if I never went back that would be fine. 

UNTIL…..

One of my best friends moved to Boston.  She quickly acclimated and became a local - so of course I had to go visit her.

We had an amazing time because she knew all the hot spots, the REAL history and story behind the scenes, and how to get the best seats to the Red Sox games.  This is when I fell hard for the city of Boston! 

I got to truly understand the city and became immersed in it's culture.  The city became familiar and energizing.

How could I go from not really caring about a city to adoring the same city almost overnight?

The simple answer - because my friend was an amazing host.

She invited me into her world and showed me Boston from a perspective that only she could share. …

You know where I'm going with this, don't you?

Right!  I want you to be a good host to your spouse.  I want you to show them all of the scary, fun, exciting, sad and memorable neighborhoods that live within you. 

I want you to be able to walk your spouse through your memories, through your dreams, through your fears so that they can experience what you have experienced.

When you can truly let your spouse into your world and your experiences -  you can finally feel familiar, safe and energized.

This is the secret to building true emotional intimacy. 

Are you willing to show your spouse your neighborhoods?  Are you able to truly open up and be vulnerable?

Don't worry if this thought makes you quiver in either excitement or fear. 

It takes time.  It takes a foundation of trust and it takes safety and security in your relationship. 

However, if you are ready to take the first step, here's an exercise you can do the next time you and your spouse have some alone time to chat.  As always, do not hold any expectations for yourself or your spouse during this exercise - just let yourself have the experience:

  1. Bring into mind a memory that has had an effect on your life.  This is any memory that has some type of feeling attached and could be from childhood.  Try to choose a memory that you haven't talked to your spouse about much, but affects the way you currently think or act.
  2. You and your spouse should sit very close, looking directly at one another and be sure to keep as much eye contact as possible.
  3. Let your spouse know you are about to tell them a story that is important to you and ask for their undivided attention and ask them to not ask questions or judge.  Ask them to just listen and be as empathetic as possible.  Ask them to come with you into the memory - pretending they are their with you.
  4. Get yourself into the memory.  Now, making eye contact with your spouse start to tell them your memory.  Really bring them with you.  Tell them what you hear, what you are thinking, what you are feeling.  Make sure they are aware of all of the sense around you.
  5. Once you are finished with your story.  Just talk about it with your spouse.  What did they feel, or sense?  How can that story help them to make more sense of your actions and behaviors and thoughts?  Were they able to come into the story with you? 

What did you find out?  Was it hard to be open and vulnerable?  Do you feel more connected?  Why or why not?  Would you do this exercise again?

I love to hear success stories, but I also love to help you tweak exercises that aren't working for you.  So let me know your experience and we'll work through it together!