Saturday, March 5, 2011

Is Marriage Good for Your Health?

A great read for those seeking to have the relationship of your dreams for the 'long haul' read

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


By Russ Hardesty, PhD

…one day she said to me,
“I don’t want you to just take care of me, but care for me….

Pat and I married 26 years ago this past March. We were both broke financially, beat up emotionally due to failed marriages and responsible for a bunch of kids. In a little less than 3 years, laboring together we were able to purchase a home, build a business and re-purchase a farm. In the process of getting out of ‘the hole’, my efforts had been focused on taking care of everyone’s physical needs. One day, with a lot of emotion, Pat said ““I don’t want you to just take care of me, but care for me…!.” Those words burned in my brain for days while I sought to understand their meaning.

Pat’s was asking for a deeper level of intimacy. Caring for her was different than taking care of her! I can really focus on taking care of things. I figure out how they work. I can fix things! I can modify things! But caring for someone is much different. For that I had been ‘not present’! I knew I loved Pat. Wasn’t that enough? Love, according to Sternberg (1988) is comprised of passion, commitment and intimacy. We had passion in our relationship! We were committed to each other! Now Pat was challenging me to a deeper level of intimacy. But what is intimacy? Is it sex? Hugging and kissing? Taking a shower together? Lying close together?

Intimacy...A way of "Being"

We were attached to each other, but I had failed to understand that intimacy was more than “Doing” certain things, like physical touching, sex, opening doors for her. The kind of intimacy she was asking for was more... a way of “Being.” Intimacy, coming from Latin, means “most within”. Intimate partners have their “most within” part connected. Their attachment or connection with each other has meaning, direction and purpose.

“Giving is receiving”

The idea that “Giving is receiving” helps describe intimacy. Intimacy is mysterious, powerful and sometimes frightening as two souls or hearts connect. The mutuality of intimacy is profound. There are no “takers” in the intimate relationship. One cannot get to know the “most within” of their partner without learning more about their own “most within” or the “being” aspect of their life. The cultural archetype of intimacy is sexual relation. This performance based archetype of intimacy is limited and limiting. If you Google “intimacy” you will find over 18M references. Most all are associated with “doing”, rather than “being.”

Intimacy is more than an adolescent notion

Couples that create quality relationship move beyond this adolescent notion of intimacy to the mystery of themselves and their partner. They bring to life those hidden and undeveloped treasures that reside deep within themselves as they encourage and nurture each other. Our journey in relationship is rarely without ups and downs. The challenges result from venturing into the grottos of our unconscious to discover our buried treasures. Like Indiana Jones enduring the feared serpents that infested the treasure chamber, we find ourselves faced with unknowns as we seek to deepen our connection.. Two individuals building a quality relationship understand that the ‘trolls’, ‘goblins’, and ‘uglies’ are a part of their personalities and they come with the package. The intimate couple acknowledges the existence of those imperfections as a challenge for growth and opportunity. They can lead to each partner having a richer life experience.

..a spiritual experience

Intimacy is a state of being. Actions that are based in intimacy bring fulfillment and purpose to a loving relationship. Intimacy is the spiritual aspect of relationship. It isn’t as concerned about the material things in a relationship as with the soul or spirit. Intimacy is mysterious and paradoxical. Intimacy operates as unconsciously as a three year old running through the house in his “birthday suit”, squealing with delight; or consciously created by two intentional adults seeking to deepen their connection to each other.

Action Step:

Spend some quiet time reflecting on your intimate relationship(s)

What are the joys?

What are the challenges for growth?

Journal your thoughts

Reader Comments

"...My spouse and I have been married for 32 years and I've experienced our relationship from giggly in bed, to passionate in bed, to mad in bed to "sleeping" in bed...As we grow older the intimacy definition changes for me. Intimacy also for me is just sitting quietly, or driving for miles quietly or walking just hearing our footsteps crunch the leaves, holding hands. My usual struggle in intimacy is in my head - I have to intentionally stop my daily to do list, my past and future stuff and live in the present moment..." Pam

it's ... smaller things to celebrate that create the real passion

“We have found that passion ebbs and flows but we set a goal for our relationship a number of years ago that is working for us. At least every six months we do something that will create a lifetime memory. For us, we love to travel, so it's been pretty easy to find something big to do that will create that lifetime memory, but sometimes it's the finding of smaller things to celebrate that create the real passion.” Steve Rae

What'll arouse passion more than the feeling of being forgiven?

“The "typical beliefs that people have when the “fire” seems to have gone out of a relationship" I believe are a) that you feel your partner should have changed or should not have changed and b) that you feel you should change or that you should not have changed.

Acceptance of yourself and your partner leads to forgiveness. What'll arouse passion more than the feeling of being forgiven?” Brian Massey

A word from Russ Hardesty

The realm of relationship is mysterious; filled with magic, surprise, excitement, passion, intimacy, loss, disappointment and creativity. I am fortunate to have a life partner who is at once a mirror, teacher, lover, nurturer, student and companion. In this place of mystery, I continue to grow into a mature, loving and free man. I welcome feedback, suggestions, and comments – which is a gift to me! Thanks for joining the expedition! Russ