…is often a reflection of a couple’s relationship. Typically, if a relationship is open and honest, their intimate relationship is also open and honest. This doesn’t mean that couples who are struggling can’t be intimate or aren’t intimate, but the intimate relationship is sort of a “by chance” situation rather than something that is consistent and agreed upon. When a relationship is struggling, intimacy can also cause confused feelings or misunderstandings. When a relationship is doing well, physical intimacy deepens emotional bonds and it simply makes the couple relationship more special than any other relationship.
I like to compare physical intimacy to baking a cake. In order to make a delicious cake, it takes a particular recipe that is followed pretty closely. You have to prepare the batter, bake the cake for the appropriate time, and let the cake cool before icing it. Without this pattern, you won’t ever get a satisfying cake. The recipe must be followed, the cake must be cooled, and only then comes the icing.
Physical intimacy is the icing on the cake. And the cake with the icing is the relationship as a whole. Without good ingredients, or following the recipe, you don’t get the masterpiece. Baking a cake, or building and maintaining a relationship, requires patience and diligence. It requires skills to talk not only about what is said in the relationship, but how it’s said. It is the ability to be vulnerable and hold pain and hurt for your partner. It is the willingness to problem solve in effective ways and strive to solve the problems that are difficult to solve. It is being able to apologize and seek for your own change even when change is hard. It is meaningful validation and unconditional support. It is always giving to the relationship and seeking understanding the dynamics of the relationship. When these elements are in place, physical intimacy is a beautiful and enjoyable experience that drives wanting to continue to work on the relationship.
Sometimes when couples are struggling, they try to force intimacy in order to get the relationship back on track. You can never force a cake to be baked quicker or go without the correct ingredients. Relationship repair doesn’t come in the intimate relationship, relationship repair comes in the day to day conversations, the talking about what is hard to talk about, the loving each other for strengths and weaknesses. When these repairs occur, trust is strengthened and love is increased making way for the icing on the cake.
Take some inventory. If your intimate life is lacking, try asking yourself what may be missing from your day to day relationship. And, start there. The icing on the cake will come.