Emotional intimacy with our spouse was the number one topic Bob and I were asked to speak on back in the days when there were live events. It was the number one topic requested for blog posts. Always. I think we all long to be fully known—nothing hidden—fully accepted. We want our spouse to relish getting to know us more. To be intentional about knowing us fully.
A number of years ago, a dear friend wrote this poem about the current state of her marriage. Sadly, it is true of the lack of emotional intimacy in many marriages. She has graciously given me permission to use it here.
I Wanted You To Know Me
Osmosis does not make a marriage I wanted us to cleave
My disappointment envelops Too often, I want to leave.
Do you know my quirks; Apprehension, fears?
Do you know How often I shed tears?
Do you know me inside out, Or outside in?
Do you know how often I fantasize of sin?
To dream of one who wants me, To know me to the core, One who searches me
And still says, “more.”
Do you know my wishes, My “someday I would like . . .”?
I want to dance in a purple dress
In the soft moonlight.
I am a romantic Did you know?
Soft words, soft touches Keep my flame aglow.
I want to read a million books And strike the ivory keys
I want to paint pictures And mediate mysteries.
I want to chat, throw out ideas Contemplate anew
But you get angry
When thoughts don’t fit your view.
I’m encased inside a box The funeral already happened.
I didn’t know death had knocked.
Death. The death of a marriage. The hope of soul mates gone. You didn’t want to know me. I’ve been missing far too long.
Which words or phrases stood out for you? There were many that grabbed me.
She opens with a profound warning: Osmosis does not make a marriage: If we want emotional intimacy, we have to be intentional. We have to pay attention to our spouse and not be gobbled up with our own concerns. We must set aside time—whether it’s a date night or a weekend away or 30 minutes after the kids are tucked in—to sit and connect. Have some conversation starters ready: “Tell me something that delighted your heart today.” “Why was that so special to you?” “You’ve seemed deep in thought all evening. What’s on your mind?” Emotional intimacy involves knowing your mate “inside out, or outside in.”
She accuses her spouse of not really wanting to know her. “Do you know my quirks, apprehension, fears. Do you know how often I shed tears?” In fact, he may not have even taken the time to know her simple likes and dislikes: “I want to dance in a purple dress in the soft moonlight.” She mourns the fact that she likes to “contemplate anew” while her husband gets mad if her views don’t mesh with his. Anger shuts your spouse down; it doesn’t bring them out.
She expresses the desire all of us have: “One who wants me, to know me to the core. One who searches me and still says, ‘more.’” In emotionally intimate relationships, there is always a desire to know the other person better. There must be constant pursuit. Consistent time set aside. Constant effort on behalf of the other. Daily blessings being spoken to them. Regular gifts of serving and listening and tangible items to delight them. There is never a time when we say, “Okay. That’s good enough.”
She concludes with the danger of not pursuing: “I’m encased inside a box. The funeral already happened. I didn’t know death had knocked. . . You didn’t want to know me. I’ve been missing far too long.”
Time for a check-up: How good is the emotional intimacy level of your marriage? What are you currently doing to pursue your mate? What hinders you from pursuing emotional intimacy? How will you get past it?