As I get older, I’m beginning to understand more about why some relationships don’t end up working out or standing the test of time. I’ve come to the conclusion that people underestimate how important intimacy is in a relationship. I just finished watching Entourage, and it looks like Ari Gold is headed towards marital problems because of his lack of attentiveness to his wife and their relationship. He has a tendency to put other things before his relationship; in his case, his job, child, or friends, taking for granted that the relationship, and she, will always be there.
I’m not sure whether people are afraid, or simply don’t know how to have that intimate connection with their mate that is supercedes any other connection in their life, aside from the one with their God. They view the union as two separate entities coming together, but not as one cohesive unit. I’ve seen two people married, yet still living like they’re single. They pop into the marriage here and there to fulfill emotional and physical duties, but 90 percent of time they are with their friends and other people, living a very uncommitted life. You wouldn’t even know they were married unless they told you.
Children often add another dynamic to the relationship. Some men and women completely neglect their spouse/partner when a child is born, forgetting that that foundation needs to be just as strong in order to raise their child to be a loving, responsible individual. There are certain boundaries that need to be understood. I may alarm some when I state that a child should not take precedence over the marriage. For my religious folks, there are verses that support the theory of “God first, spouse second, children third.” However, some people fall more in love with their children than their partners, causing a rift in the relationship. In my opinion, pouring all the love into the child is a selfish way to protect themselves from the day-to -day woes of a marriage. Clinging to a child’s unconditional love allows a parent to have intimacy without the disappointments and frustrations associated with long-term, committed, adult relationships.
This is my second reference to The Cosby Show on my blog, but there are some fundamental values that that show showcased that are heavily overlooked today. We took it for granted then, but when we look back at Claire and Cliff’s relationship, nothing was more important than that. It was, in many ways, the basis of the entire show. They loved their kids, but it was very important that they made time for intimate moments with each other, aside from sex, and their kids understood those boundaries. Even their careers took a back seat to what was necessary for the union to work. Relationships don’t thrive on air. They need emotional, physical and spiritual fuel to work. Tons of marriages and relationships are surviving on air because people are too scared to commit 100 percent of their being to someone else. They’ll give it to their child, job or friends, and give 80 percent to their partner. And sadly enough, they don’t even realize what they are doing because they feel like getting married was a sufficient display of their commitment.
Some would call me an idealist, but I do want that marriage or relationship where I’m not thought of as a pronoun- “yeah, I’m with HER” as opposed to “we are together.” The “us” and “we” references provide a sense of intimacy and make me feel like he and I are in this together; that our bond is unbreakable and we are constantly taking steps to be closer, because that closeness helps us with the rearing of our children, careers, and life obstacles. Romantic love is great for shallow fulfillment, but intimate love is the deep, undeniable attachment between two people; one doesn’t work without the other. However, some people like to maintain their emotional independence within relationships because they feel more in control. The fear of dependence, heartbreak, or vulnerability makes them destroy their relationships from the inside out. Although intimacy isn’t the easiest thing for some individuals to grasp, it is necessary, from both men and women, on an everyday basis for a relationship to thrive. Some people understand that, and some never will.
The biggest issue in the “intimacy” role in a relationship is communication!
Men and Women speak entirely two different languages and have different needs.
My wife once said to me, early in our marriage, “how can you say I don’t love you? I cook and clean and do this and that”. My response was “I can do those things myself! I’ve raised a daughter, I can braid, plat cook and clean; I need a wife, not a maid!” I said the same to her at one point where she responded, “I don’t feel it and you don’t tell me enough!”
Basically we were saying “you are not meeting me where I need to be met”.
2nd Peter 3:7 tells men to dwell with their wives according to knowledge! This is to say live with them, study them, learn them and treat them according to what you see! I learned that my wife wants to be touched often. This is not sexual but sensual; a hug, a nose nuzzy, a face caress, a walk-by massage in the small of the back; my wife want to be heard and not counseled, she needs me to acknowledge I’m listening, even if it’s a grunt! I need to say, “woman you put your foot in that dinner”, or “you are the best MeMa and if I wasn’t your husband, I’d want to be your child!”
I don’t need to hear I love you everyday or to be touched daily; what I do need is to know that “I am the man”; that I am the first place she’s runs to for protection, that I am trusted to fix her car above a mechanic unless I say “I can’t do it”. That she talks about me when away from home as the man who cares for her and her house. My wife says “OK honey, I disagreed but you make the decision”, and even if I’m wrong she never says “I told you so”.
It is ridiculous that man no longer allow women to be women but make them responsible for what we should be responsible for. It is ridiculous that women don’t allow men to be men, telling them “I can open my own door” or “I don’t need you to do this or that”.
We both have gas tanks requiring different fuels! You know what fuels you, what fuels your partner? Swallow your pride, listen to your mate, stop wanting everything for you, learn that relationship requires work not feelings, stop giving up and giving in, don’t give away you flower thinking it is the key the relationship, stop being boys and be men…the list could go on…just knock it off!
To add to Maurice’s acknowledgment that communication is a huge factor in failed relationships, I would put honesty in there as well–honesty with one’s self and with one’s spouse.
Many people are not completely honest with themselves about who they truly are, their wants, needs, desires and quirks and/or baggage. They carry on as if things will fix themselves if they ignore them long enough. OR, they are afraid to talk to their spouse about their innermost feelings because they feel they may be misunderstood, chastised or even ridiculed for feeling what they feel. To be honest about everything takes courage, to sit and listen to your spouse’s feelings without making them regret confiding in you or jumping down their throat if it hurts you to hear what they have to say takes even more courage. Both people need to be willing to be on either side of that scenario for things to work out.
As well, some people have very unrealistic views of what a marriage is and until they get a grip on reality, they will continue to make the same mistakes over and over again. The wedding is just a day, the marriage is forever. Give, take, compromise, learn, grow, showing vulnerability and trusting your spouse to hold your heart in their hand to protect it, *Emotional Maturity,* etc., all of those things need to be nurtured every day for a relationship to be healthy and last. Literally, sometimes you need to “stop the world,” listen and find a way to work things out with your spouse. Of course the key is to know WHEN to do this. You’re going to have a tough time if you’ve let a problem fester over a period of months or years rather than tackling it when the signs of going off course first revealed themselves. If you know in the beginning that your boyfriend or girlfriend has conflict resolution problems and you want to marry them anyway, you may want to work on that BEFORE you go saying I Do. It perplexes me how many people go into a marriage thinking the problems they had while dating will magically disappear.
Anyway, I am pro-marriage (despite the fact I can’t legally have one), because I believe two people in a healthy, committed relationship have the capacity to build great things and contribute to the community in a greater way than either one could do on their own.