When conflict comes in a relationship, people are generally comfortable stating “I like this,” or “I don’t like that.” However, it takes true vulnerability to state why the preferences are there. Perhaps it is fear of rejection or abandonment. It could be triggers from past relationships gone wrong. It could be attitudes learned from growing up in a dysfunctional home. Exposing the hidden issues in the heart is a dangerous position to be in. If trust has not been established, the pain could run deep if the spouse does not receive the information lovingly or even worse, if they use it as a weapon against their spouse.
If you recognize the intimacy in your relationship is lacking, it might be time to build the trust and become more vulnerable. To build trust, you must be willing to take a risk. Here are some tips to building intimacy in your relationship:
1. Be real with yourself about what you want. If you don’t know what you want, how will your spouse ever be able to figure it out? Playing mind games by expecting him or her to always know what you are thinking and wanting will only lead to disappointment and frustration. If you want something, go after it. If it is something that you desire from your spouse, ask for it directly. Stop the games. Don’t set them up for failure.
2. Be receptive. If you want your spouse to be open and honest with you, you have to be willing to receive it. Don’t argue and get defensive. You may have to take it on the chin and it may hurt, but it’s worth it in the long run. We all have faults and ignoring them does not make them go away. If you can’t take it, your spouse most likely won’t be willing to tell you.
3. Admit it when you are wrong. So we all screw up and hurt others. When you realize you have been wrong in the way you treated your spouse, don’t sweep it under the rug. The pain can linger. The best thing you can do is become vulnerable and tell them that you were wrong and ask for forgiveness. Be prepared to deal with the fallout and willing to move on past it.
4. Validate your spouse’s feelings. If your spouse feels that you do not understand or care about their feelings, they will shut down emotionally with you. Even if you disagree with the situation, their feelings are real for them. Listen, show compassion, and when the time is right you will have your turn. They certainly will not show love and compassion to you if you don’t show it to them.
5. Seek out your spouse. Selfishness is destructive to relationships, but most of us have a heavy dose of selfishness that stands in the way of our relationships. We want what we want, when we want it. One of the best ways of developing trust with your spouse is to draw them out. Ask what they want and do it! If you ask what they want for dinner, don’t argue with their answer. Put yourself aside for a while to please your spouse and you will be pleased with the outcome. If it is unnatural in your relationship, it may take a while before the guard comes down. However, if your spouse believes you are being genuine it can relight the flame of desire in your relationship.
Marriage is hard work. There is no doubt about it. But it is worth it. When each day brings new levels of intimacy and trust, it is worth it. When you realize that you can count on your spouse to care about your daily needs, it is worth it. When you realize that you are building a lifetime of memories and experiences together, it is worth it. When you are setting an example of commitment and responsibility for your children, it is worth it!