Tough as it can be, geographical distance is an opportunity to build a stronger foundation for love.
In today’s mobile world there is likely to be at least one long distance relationship in your life.
Two years after the end of my first marriage I met the woman who is now my wife — and love of my life. Shortly after we met, her mother in Florida was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and she had to move in with her to care for and nurture her as she underwent treatments and, sooner than thought, hospice.
During that time we communicated via long phone calls, letters, and old fashioned greeting cards. Given the fact that her mom was dying, she really longed for our conversations and for my listening ear.
I came to realize that those many months of that frequent, even though long distance, communication helped build up our intimacy at rocket speed.
When she did move back to my state of Colorado, we knew each other much better than if we had dated normally in the same town.
If you are in a long distance relationship, it may just be the perfect opportunity to set the stage for a relationship full of honest and ‘naked’ conversations.
These conversations — away from the everyday distractions of living together — can enhance your connection by allowing you to practice the same kind of committed listening and sharing you should be doing when you are together in the same place and time.
“How much we know and understand ourselves is critically important, but there is something that is even more essential to living a wholehearted life: loving ourselves.” — Brené Brown
Let’s face it. Relationships are tough, especially those of marriage or committed partners.
We often get out of sync, pulled by the duties of our job, children, health, wealth, friends, family, and so on. But living alone is not what humans are meant to experience either.
So the challenge becomes finding ways to be naked emotionally in safe places, and to do it before the layers of armor grow too thick and therefore impenetrable.
In romantic relationships, for sexual intimacy, you eventually have to shed your clothes together and make love, but I have often found that phrase curious.
We don’t make anything.
We experience love, connection, and sexual pleasure. As Paul McCartney wrote, “The love you take is equal to the love you make.”
Lovers are also naked together at other times, such as when they get into bed together, take showers, or change clothes. Yet everyone has a different need for privacy.
Some don’t mind walking from the closet naked to grab a new shirt, while others prefer the lights out and like wearing pajamas to bed.
What matters most is how comfortable you feel being emotionally naked with your lover, partner, or spouse.
When we take off our clothes from a day at work or a night out to dinner, we feel ourselves becoming free from the constraints and constrictions that clothes sometimes cause. That feeling of comfort we experience as we release our bodies from constrictive clothing is the same feeling we can achieve when we speak truthfully and authentically to a partner who listens well.
This emotional nakedness and authentic communication cannot be realized without clear intentions and safety of circumstances.
Just like we don’t show up physically naked at all times, we likewise don’t reveal ourselves in our complete emotional nakedness at all times. Yet there must be some room to experience that, or the burden and constriction grow unbearably uncomfortable.
Dr. Pat is an internationally acclaimed coach and speaker. His recently released book, 'Getting Naked: On Emotional Transparency At The Right Time, In The Right Place, With The Right Person' is available on www.drpatwilliams.com. Please sign up for his newsletter and let him know how you like the book!