Guest blog by Rob Maroney, co-author of Hope After Hurt
I remember the first Valentine’s Day after we were married. We were staying in a hotel at a ski resort in Colorado when I woke up and realized it was Valentine’s Day. I scrambled to come up with an excuse to leave the room and made my way into the village to find a gift from the souvenir shop that said “I love you.” It was a feeble attempt to express my feelings.
For many (like me), the flowers, dinner, jewelry, a romantic card, and candy represent a once-a-year attempt at romance, but the next morning, life goes back to “normal.”
Intimacy Ignorance or Intimacy Intelligence
I first met Dr. Larry Crabb 17 years ago. At that time, Larry had already written over 30 books and was a well-respected author, teacher, and counselor. I knew by his reputation and skill with people it was unlikely I would fool him. He would see right through me, like he had X-ray vision for guys like me who were hiding behind a mask. I felt I was wearing a sweatshirt that said “Clueless” on the front and had flashing Christmas lights around it. Having worked with hundreds of couples just like us for years, as he got closer to me, my insecurity started to rise. But he was a pro, and with the skill of a well-trained surgeon he peeled away the layers of what was really going on with us.
At our first meeting my wife started to cry. Larry quickly recognized, and acknowledged, how she felt invisible, lonely, and abandoned. Although she minimized these feelings, he saw what was underneath the emotions she expressed … something I had not done very well over the years.
That was the start of a relationship with Larry Crabb that lasted several years. As I met with him privately over the next several days, even months and years, we talked about what it looks like to love well … what happens when I don’t listen … how to care for her emotionally … and how our relationship suffers when I’m not present or available. We also talked about what I desired in the marriage, and what happens within me when I don’t get it. We talked about how intimacy goes both ways.
Longing for Intimacy
Larry was teaching me the real meaning of intimacy and this became a turning point for us. A man’s heart longs for true intimacy. He deeply desires to know a woman, and his closest friends for that matter, truly intimately. The problem is, most men don’t have a clue what real intimacy looks like. The men in his life – the fathers, uncles, coaches, grandparents, others – never modeled it for him, abandoning him to his own self-guided journey to understand manhood and masculinity.
Sadly, most of what is understood as intimacy has been “caught” rather than “taught” and he settles for counterfeit intimacy … which never satisfies. Without good role models in life who understand true intimacy and masculinity, men are left watching, waiting, and hoping something will make sense someday, or at least create the illusion of intimacy.
Try this to deepen your intimacy
If Valentine’s Day has become your one big shot to inject a little intimacy into your relationship, try something different. Are you willing to go beyond flowers, dinner and chocolate for Valentine’s Day? How about giving a different gift? The gift of intimacy. It will last longer than a box of chocolates, a bouquet of flowers, and an expensive dinner.
- Make it emotionally safe to bring up difficult subjects.
- Listen with openness and curiosity.
- Listen without comment during disagreements, despite strong feelings being stirred.
- Be honest with yourself. True intimacy with another can’t really happen until we are honest and compassionate with ourselves. Don’t hide.
- Dare to expose your imperfections and fears. This is especially difficult since it goes against the instinct for self-protection.
Happy Valentine’s Day
Flowers, Dinner, Chocolates = $125
The Gift of Acceptance & Understanding = Priceless
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