How Do You Define Emotional Intimacy?
by Linda Dillow
Defining sexual intimacy is easy but what does emotional intimacy look like in marriage? One of the most beautiful descriptions of emotional intimacy I’ve ever read was written by my friend Nanci. She and her husband waded through rough waters in their marriage and came out swimming strong on the other side. Here is what she says about emotional intimacy:
“Emotional intimacy is being “naked and unashamed.” To be fully known; my darkest thoughts, hateful words, biggest disappointments, and greatest fears—and yet be fully loved and accepted. To know that I have given my heart to my husband, that he takes seriously the role of protector; that he is careful with my heart. And I am careful with his heart. It is knowing him so well and having such a deep understanding of him that I can trust him beyond circumstances. It is being so entwined with one another, yet so different, that we are like one plant putting off two very different blooms.”
Marriage is the adventure of discovering one another so you might deeply share emotional oneness but how do I find emotional intimacy with my husband, Jody who is SO different from me?
I’m going to tell you a closely kept secret about men. Men don’t talk about it, so your husband may not even be aware of it. Closeness comes for him when you are body to body or shoulder to shoulder. Jody feels emotional intimacy with me in sexual intimacy. One husband said this about the connectedness he felt after making love with his wife: “I feel whole and complete. My life is at peace. I thank God for you and the special gift it is to love and be loved by you.” Sounds like emotional intimacy to me! Another man said that after loving his wife sexually, he can go outside and smell the flowers. He can walk with his wife and have deep communication. Sexual intimacy opens him to emotional connection. Write that one down; it is important that you get this in your brain.
When women want to feel emotionally connected, they talk. Words are spoken, hearts connected, and secrets shared. Men, very different from us, can feel close without having any eye connection or heart contact. No secrets shared, very few words spoken. Being shoulder to shoulder is enough. Shoulder-to-shoulder connection is what happens when men watch football, basketball, or any kind of ball together. They eat yummy things and make comments about their favorite team. Their eyes are on the screen, not on each other. But in their male brains and hearts, they are connecting.
Jody studied engineering. His brain is analytical, focused—very unlike mine. I smile inside when I look back over the years and realize how this right-brained man of mine has learned to enter deeply into emotional intimacy with me.
Last month he took me out to dinner for my birthday and then said he had a surprise for me. This man who doesn’t do details took me to our camper, where he had spent hours preparing it for my birthday. All of the little things he did spoke love to me. The cake even said, “I love Linda.” (I asked him if the woman at the bakery laughed when he told her what to write. She did.) I had asked Jody that week what emotional intimacy meant to him. On a beautiful, flowery card, Jody had written.
Emotional intimacy is sharing dreams and desires, plans and adventure. It is both encouragement and comfort. It is being best friends and lovers. Your love has made this real in my life.
Not bad for a right-brained male.