Marital matters are becoming eminent in most parts of the world due to increased rates of divorce. Marital issues also have a great impact on the social part of a community; the social problems that come as a result are not limited to children or the parents but they are common to everyone.
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The marital problems that occur at times are associated with lack of commitment of intimacy between them or at times insufficient marital skills that the couples have. Other attributing factors include inability to cope with conflict, lack of positive attitude towards each other and finally the degree of forgiveness which at times goes as low as being interpreted as un forgiveness (Everett, 2007:1).
Intimacy has been viewed as the heart of every relationship and if not the heart it is a very essential part of the same. It is an integral part of complete love which entails zeal and dedication.
Intimacy is in real sense a very hard word to define, no much consensus has been gained in its definition and there are so many components involved in its makeup. According to Harper & Elliot (1988), intimacy can be defined as attending and responding to both self and others. It is also argued just like love, intimacy is mutual meaning it is a mutual interaction.
Self disclosure which enables one to share self with each other enhances growth in the feeling of closeness and therefore intimacy is increased. Sharing of personal experiences and exchanging cognitive and emotional information is one way of self disclosure for couples which help them to share themselves out to each other. Closeness which replicates a lot on intimacy is a matter of awareness.
Successful marriage is enhanced through self disclosure, emotional intimacy, and understanding and caring. The above named elements are attained through trainings which will help the couples attain them. The most vital and acceptable training is the training of good communication skills.
Communication skills are very important for they are a key element of increasing intimacy in a family. Though these skills are offered, personal maturity is seen to be a fundamental element for attaining an intimate relationship. Maturity in this sense is attained through the use of virtues that enhance human well being like honesty, trust and generosity among others (Natalie, 2005: 34).
The key elements of intimacy
Intimacy can be broken down into four domains namely emotional, intellectual, physical and shared activities. These are the factors that determine the health of marital intimacy. Where these factors are ensured, there is successful marriage and healthy marital intimacy. The above elements are meant to tie the relating people together out of will and love and work in the individual to enhance their intimacy. Intimacy is about communication and the varying levels of connections the people in love share.
Intellectual connection revolves around sharing of morals and set goals which at times people think is the key element of an intimacy. The intellectual intimacy or connection is involved with a lot of disagreement and agreement which when resolved enables one to develop skills in effective communication.
A strong couple has the abilities to teach and learn from each other. Care is the other most searched for and desired aspect of an intimate relationship. It is therefore a pertinent issue for an intimacy. Many times emotionalism overshadows rationality. Trust is one of the instinct that without in a relationship it as well as crippled. In a relationship one seeks for genuine emotional support for love is evidence that emotional ties really exists.
The four main element of intimacy are truthfulness, loyalty, honesty and commitment. Intimacy for a couple has different intimacy which include verbal, sexual, psychological, spiritual, intellectual and emotional.
All are in the same package and of the same importance if the couple has to win the game of intimacy for one another. When these six types are learnt and implemented in one life the relationship grows and there is a deeper way of satisfaction for each one of them. As the partners strive to meet the six domains of intimacy conflict finds its way.
A relationship which predicts out intimacy also spells out conflict
In an intimate relationship frustration, anger and conflict are inescapable. This is because they are the uniting fibers of human relationships. Marriage is an intimate relationship which demands a lot and has many challenges as compared to other human relationships. This is due to the fact that is the most intimate relationship of all the human relationship. Conflict is a hindrance to intimacy. People with great attachments are the people are exposed to fights and conflicts depth more often.
Learning the value of the conflicts which occur in a family is the genesis of building a good communication strategy in a marriage. Intimacy is known to get deeper when conflict arises and they are handled, though the process most of the times is painful but it is very fulfilling. In deed love tends to deepen after a quarrel (Howard & Clinebell, 1965:1).
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Conflicts are brought about by the differences we carry along from our families and also by failure of the partners to detach themselves from their original offspring. Conflict may also rise from differences in ideas and way of doing things. Therefore skills to handle all this differences are required by both parties which will help them handle their issues peaceful and maintain and enhance their intimacy. Communication in conflict resolution is another major area that needs skills which should be taught and learnt (Waring, 1988:65).
Communication as a key to closeness or intimacy
Relating which is the genesis of intimacy is all about communication. The depth of a relationship can be established in the confines of the quality of communication. Good communication is how well one can pass and receive messages and meanings; it’s therefore a key tool to achieve mutuality in a relationship. The heart of a marital intimacy understands each other. Communication is not limited to verbal styles it is not only done through words.
For example a wife who coldly responds to the husbands greeting after tough day’s work conveys a lot of information to him. This is equaled to have used a loud outburst full of anger. Communication is a combination of many aspects and it is simultaneously in that when you are speaking to your spouse you give different facial expressions and also tones which in themselves convey some messages (Howard & Clinebell, 1965:1).
The extent unto which a couple can be able to communicate is one of the ways to measure how your relationship is established. The modes of communication that one desire varies; others love it done through feeling others through colors and others like it dictated through scenes. A single statement may have different meaning depending on what accompanies it.
Tough words spoken followed by caress or a soft touch reflect a lot of love though the statement may be powerful depressing. The same statement from the mouth of a boss will sound awkward like, ‘I never thought you would ever come back’. The statements we use may cause our spouse or partners get away from us or draw them close to us. The statement, ‘I thought you would never come back’, with a tone that is soothing implies acceptance but if done with other tones it may reflect denial.
Communication is a two way traffic affair. In a marital relationship the information received is interpreted in the context of what happened between them earlier. When one is able to communicate with both parties agreeing to it, is a very important skill for the growth of marital intimacy.
Marriage is one relationship which gives chances for multilevel passing of messages and meanings. For a couple to achieve this they need to learn some few aspects of communication and very important statements which enhance good communication (Howard & Clinebell, 1965:1).
To enhance intimacy in a relationship, non verbal communication is very important to spice up the relationship. You don’t have to always use the word I love you they may seem obvious, a romantic glance or a kiss with affection like at the back of the neck, a playful touch in an apt spot are some of the ways you convey that message.
Giving a gift, listening keenly, giving flowers and many other are ways of communicating your affection and showing intimacy through communication. The satisfaction and joy yielded in marriage comes with the ability to invent news of communicating as a means of showing intimacy. Lack of communication both in sending messages and improper listening in many of the marital relationships is interpreted for neglect.
Can intimacy skills be learnt?
In a view of trying to understand marital intimacy skills, they are the skills that enable people relating with each other intimately, manage to live in harmony and grow together. They therefore precisely include conflict resolution skills, good communication skills, and other virtues like honesty, generosity among others.
The analysis shows more than half of the people who get into marriage never have in mind these virtues and neither think about them before. This implies though they thought they would handle these issues they finally overwhelm them hence the best way to help them or resolve is getting advice which is way of being trained. Learning of the vital marital intimacy skills helps build up the desired relationship between the two partners.
Intimacy can be defined as the ability to blend with your partner emotional, physically, in spiritual matters and also in the sexual communion. It is also the ability to understand the difficulties of living and sleeping with a stranger after the wedding. Marital intimacy is the process of the couple to honestly disclose themselves to each other of who they are and how satisfied they are with their marital relationship (Clinton & Sibcy, 2006).
Intimacy skills are taught and can be learned through the marital enrichment programs. Like any other skill, the marital intimacy skills can be acquired trough learning when one goes through the marital enrichment programs. Professionalism in counseling can be utilized to effectively design sessions which will help the couples develop intimacy and other skills.
Intimacy is a very key factor or element for a lasting relationship. Intimacy skills are not independent in that they must be learnt in conjunction with other skills which would enhance a stable and long lived relationship. The skills are learnt at different paces by different couples and they are useful for resolving marital issues.
Programs set for marital counseling according to some theories are known to clearly evident that intimacy skills can be learnt and taught with the goal idea of making a stable lasting relationship.
This is said to be specific to circumstances and groups. The cream of a good marriage has been identified to revolve around the confines of good communication, conflict resolution, positive behaviors and intimacy. This makes in clear in the minds of everyone how intimacy is vital in a marriage and how much influence it has in marriage life (Hickmon et al, 1998: 589).
Self disclosure is the center bolt of intimacy. Self disclosure is affected by different factors including commitment to the relationship, meaning and the frequency of disclosure. Undiscriminating disclosure, which entails sharing only the negative information about one’s spouse, is a leading killer to intimacy. Enhancement of intimacy starts with what is in the mind. The marital intimacy skills which revolve around conflict management, communication and commitment are skills that can be learnt.
Intimacy is maintained by balancing the six types of intimacy. For if that is not done it leaves one of the partners without being satisfied. In deed if one is valued than the rest it implicates negatively on the intimacy level of the family. Intimacy builds up on values and virtues which are a good platform for the growth and expansion of an intimate relationship.
Commitment affects intimacy in real sense is referred to as the foundation and it’s also vital for the growth of intimacy. The virtues which are the baseline of intimacy are learnt and developed and it is unless the people involved understand the importance of this virtues they are able to guard them and also implement them (Natalie, 2005: 34).
Sexual intimacy is what comes to the mind of many when marital intimacy is mentioned. It is an area of great importance in a marital relationship; myths have it that this area is naturally learnt and come automatically. This may be true but learning on the matters of how to satisfy your husband or wife sexually is one vital aspect of a marital relationship.
Training on this key element helps one overcome the barriers of sexual satisfaction and also learn new ways of engaging in sex which would help one enjoy more in this area. Being one reason why most people get into marriage to avoid multiple partners being taught how to prepare yourself and your partners for this task is very important. This skill does not come from nowhere it calls for one to sit under skilled individual or trained personnel to get this information (Eggerichs, 2005:1).
Intimacy so much calls for values and virtues to grow and develop. From much of what we have seen is that intimacy develops after identifying some values you admire in an individual hence they play a key role in the development and maintenance of intimacy.
The best of the marriages that have enjoyed complete intimacy in the relationships are those who have managed to working on their skills in commitment, communication and conflict resolution. The above discussions were to help you understand the integral role communication and conflict play in intimacy. These three elements are best achieved through programs which enable the spouses to learn from each other (Natalie, 2005: 34).
Most of these factors are learnt in the primary level of pre-marital counseling and through marriage enrichment program. This is an activity which has helped promote mutual commitment to each other. The people who enroll are helped to develop good communication skills and listening skills, in this they also get to acquit themselves with conflict solving ways. The couple is able to share their feelings, developing interactions skills and a desire for an intimate relationship.
This training is consent of the couple who value their marriage. Meaning they are deliberate and willing to make an impact on their marital growth. This means those who are willing to do something about their relationships should be helped during their pre-marital counseling. The marital intimacy skills can be learnt through interaction with each other and also from a caring couple (Eggerichs, 2005:1).
Communication skills have been of great influence to the intimacy of couples. Many couples are suffering from communication breakdown in their marriage which means the solutions in their families is communication build up. They therefore need to be helped to learn how to communicate to each other in the view to build up their intimacy once again. Proper communication in marriage creates understanding between the two parties. This is vital in making them closer to each other and be able to share with each other.
Where there is communication failure, parties do not even get to know each other as is expected in any kind of marriage setup. Communication skills cannot be developed or gained they can only be taught. For example there are couples who can rarely talk about their sexual lives and cannot be able to make meaning about their desires, leaving them wounded hence no desire for sexual intimacy making the general outcome of intimacy incomplete (Natalie, 2005: 45).
One of the leading healers of intimacy in families is the learning of conflict resolution skills and communication skills. How one handles the conflict is a skill you learnt from other and from past experiences. This calls for one to be taught interpersonal skills in this particular area.
These are better learnt using technical examples which help the couples internalize their situations in the view of the example offered to learn better. Sharing is dreaded by many but so far it is the leading way of off-loading the burdens of our hearts and also learning from each other.
Self-disclosure is a major element of intimacy but it should not be done without learning how best to do it. For it can kill the intimacy in a family due to the manner it is done or when. During conflicts is not the best time to disclose your partners weaknesses actually it’s the time to learn by watching and listening carefully. Skills in this are very important to retain the intimacy of the relationship at its cream.
Skills are central part of a successful marriage, many people get into marriage for a couple of reasons but it does not hit them the need to acquire intimacy skills needed to make their marriage a success. Most people have been known to enter into marriage without any knowledge of intimacy skills. Ephesians 5:31, talks about a union where a man will be joined to his wife and becomes one flesh this shows how much disclosure is expected between the two parties.
Marital intimacy skills are very vital for every relationship. Lack of these skills means destructive antagonism and blame games in the relationship. These skills are not in borne they are learnt through experiences but more they are taught by professionals who include the trained church pastors and other professionals in this particular domain.
Having in mind many people get into marriage for a couple of reasons but it does hit them the need to acquire intimacy skills needed to make their marriage a success. Most people have been known to enter into marriage without any knowledge of intimacy skills. This has caused these people to have a lot of challenges in their marriage. Many marriages have been Brocken because the parties do not know how to relate with their spouses.
The learning o the marital intimacy skills are very vital because it enable people to be able to solve the challenges that come their way. Most of the marital issues and problems are ascribable to ignorance or lack of these skills. People need to be advised to attend counseling on marital intimacy skills. This would save many marriages from breaking and from other related issues like domestic violence.
Marital intimacy skills are matters of values and virtues that people required to allow an honest disclosure to each other continually. They are therefore attributes that can be learnt and people should willingly open up to these teachings for them to be effect on their marriages and relationships.
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Harper, J. M & Elliot, R. M. (1988). Can there be too much of a good thing? The relationship between desired level of intimacy and marital adjustment. American Journal of family therapy, 16(44), 351-360.
Hickmon, W. A, Protinsky, H. O. & Singh, K. (1998). Increasing Marital Intimacy: Lessons from Marital Enrichment. Contemporary Family Therapy. Volume 19, Number 4, 581-589.
Howard, J. & Clinebell, C. H. (1965). The Intimate Marriage. Chicago: religion-online.org. Web.
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