Friday, February 23, 2007

Intimacy is more than Sex at Middle Age

During a recent women’s forum I attended one of the questions posed to me was “Is there a difference love-making and making love?” I had to give it some thought but then I decided the answer was “Yes, there IS a difference.” Love-making, in my opinion, is a physical act between two people. Making love, on the other hand, goes much deeper into the spiritual connection between the couple.

It’s the same with comparing sex and intimacy. Intimacy is more than sex or making love. It's more of a combination of the physical AND emotional connection you feel with your partner. Intimacy involves a soul connection between two people.

While instant chemistry can be exciting and thrilling, the chemistry that makes marriages work usually grows over time. This special chemistry between two people involves excellent communication and self sacrifice more than physical attraction. It takes trust, patience, and willingness to talk and to listen.

With greater intimacy, married partners tend to have a more satisfying and fulfilling romantic life. They learn how to do the things that please each other. They learn how to communicate. Being able to express what you want is important and genuinely listening to your spouse are key factors in building an intimate romance.

So how can you grow in intimacy with your marriage partner? Here are some keys to unlock the mystery of deeper intimacy.

Determine what you really need out of the relationship. Is friendship more important than financial stability? Or must the bills be paid on time even if your spouse doesn’t have much time with you? Can you sacrifice long conversations for more affectionate behavior? Or do you need to talk things out no matter how long it takes? The list can go on.

Determine what your spouse really needs. At first your husband or wife may be reluctant to share what he or she needs. They may have never really thought about it in an organized fashion. Maybe it would help to have him/her write down his/her desires when he/she is relaxed. Some suggestions: do a really nice deed for your partner like, drawing a warm bath or cooking a nice meal. Then ask them to take the time to think about what they need in the relationship.

Make an effort to change your behavior everyday. If your partner needs more space, draw back a little. If they need more of your time, tune out any distractions and pay attention to your spouse. You may start with fifteen or twenty minutes with no TV, phone, computer, radio, etc. and then gradually increase your time to one to two hours of uninterrupted time per day.

Finally, take care of yourself. If you are frustrated, you won’t be a fun person to be around. Make sure that you have your own “me” time everyday where you can pray, meditate, and take care of your personal needs. Whether it’s writing in a journal, reading a good book, going to the spa or just doing nothing at all, give yourself some space so when you come back together, you’ll appreciate each other even more.

Beverly Mahone is a veteran journalist, author and motivational speaker who writes about issues affecting baby boomers in her book, "Whatever! A Baby Boomer's Journey Into Middle Age."

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