Contributed by Suzanne Phillips
It takes more than just showing up to reclaim or renew a good sexual relationship. Would you just show up on the dance floor to dance the tango together? Probably not. To really dance, you need a plan. When two people make a plan and share a goal to connect - it usually happens. Yes, at first your timing will be off, the pace may seem wrong and you will step on your partner’s feet, but if you want to dance together you will hang in until it becomes smooth – until you know and trust each others’ moves as only partners can.
The chronic stresses of daily life as well as the assault of unexpected trauma and loss can create enough stress and distrust to make partners feel like strangers. The touch, the trust, and intimate knowing that couples can share become an invaluable emotional and physical source of transforming, healing, and renewing.
How Do You Find A Way Back? Too often couples feel that so much has happened, so much has been said or unsaid, so much time has passed that they give up on reclaiming intimacy. Some partners get stuck in the face of sudden changes and want to wait until it is the “way it was.” Many believe they have to “feel” the urge to even consider a plan.
It Is Only Too Late To Start If You Don’t Start. Often I ask people to consider that any intimate reconnection even just holding hands changes their feeling state and the state of the person they touch. It is the nonverbal validation of a connection. If they physically connect they will feel differently about who they are and the bond they share.
Embrace What Is New. In life and certainly in the aftermath of trauma, it is impossible for things to stay the same. To insist that things be the same is often to stay focused on what has been lost. It will keep you and your partner from taking the best of what you can into a new connection in the future.
Instead Of Waiting “To Feel” – Start Dancing And You Will Start Feeling. The relationship of thoughts, feelings and behaviors is complex and interrelated. Movement in one domain affects the other domains. Often we can feel so disorganized by grief or stress that we are trying to feel better before taking a step – sometimes the step is crucial to feeling better.
Pillow Talk. A real step toward intimacy is being present to each other in the moment and not letting the world in. There is something about “pillow talk” -side by side relaxing, confiding and sharing between two people in the dark that helps define them as intimates. This is not about having the perfect movie set – this could mean that he sits on the bed for a few minutes before she falls asleep, she stays in the room in the morning while he gets dressed, or they both fall down on the bed between car pools. Pillow Talk is about having something that is personal, predictable, and private in a way that you have with no one else.