Reblog: The Ingredients that Fuel Healthy Intimacy

By Dr. Henry Cloud

A healthy sex life begins with love. Love brings a couple together and allows sex to flourish. Love encompasses sex; it’s larger than sex. Love can create the desire for sex, but when the passion of sex is over, love remains. It continues and is present with the couple, holding them close to each other and to the Author of love himself.

A large part of sexual love is knowing, and sexual love is about knowing your spouse, personally and intimately. That means you should know your partner’s feelings, fears, secrets, hurts, and dreams, and care about them – and likewise, your partner should know and care about yours.

The vulnerability of sex increases that base of knowing, as husband and wife reveal their innermost souls to each other through sexual love. By its unveiling and exposed nature, sex demands that sort of openness. In sexual intimacy two people show each other the privacy of their bodies as well as the privacy of their hearts and feelings.

Love involves the whole person: heart, soul, mind, and strength. Love and sex both require an emotional connection between two people; both should be emotionally present and available. When two people can attach to each other in their hearts, a healthy sex life will emerge and develop. Yet when a couple lacks this kind of intimacy, their sex life will become atrophied because it cannot feed off the emotional connection. This can happen in several ways. Sometimes one mate will withdraw love out of anger, hurt, or a desire to punish the other. Other times one will be unable to take in or receive the other’s love. Still other times one mate has an inability to live emotionally in the world. Both people’s hearts must be available in order to connect emotionally. If this is not the case, while sex can occur, it more often than not does not have enough fuel to be ignited.

It’s also true that love, and healthy sexuality, cannot exist without trust. Because sex is such a symbol of personal exposure and vulnerability, a healthy sex life requires that couples develop a great deal of trust in each other, trust that the other person will not use what he or she knows to hurt the other person. When people trust each other, they feel free to continue their explorations of one another at deeper and deeper levels. In fact, one of the Hebrew words for trust also means “careless.” In other words, when you trust someone, you are careless with him or her. You are not anxious and fearful, editing what you say and feel. You are free to be yourself with the other person, because you can trust that he or she will not do wrong by you.

Love also changes our focus. It shifts our perspective from an emphasis on “I” to a focus on “we.” That is, in love, the whole is truly greater than the sum of its parts. It is not self-seeking; it is relationship-seeking. That’s why couples don’t talk about building their lives together. They discuss and dream about building a life together. There is a continual emphasis on how “we” are and on caring for the other person’s welfare, and when that happens, we can give ourselves to our significant other in vulnerable, yet, fulfilling ways.

Find the original article here.

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