Byline: Julie Baumgardner, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES
It seems like every time I turn around, someone is talking with me about how much they crave intimacy in their marriage, but they have no earthly idea how to go about getting what they want and need.
I recently heard Sue Johnson, author of Hold Me Tight, speak on this very topic. Her words were profound and thought-provoking.
According to Mrs. Johnson, the director of the Ottawa Couple and Family Institute and professor of clinical psychology at the University of Ottawa, intimacy - the need to be held and to be soothed while staying in the loving arms of another - goes from the cradle to the grave. We are all born with this vulnerability, and one of the very real issues of your most meaningful love relationships is how you deal with it. Do you deal with it in a way that pulls people close or pushes them away?
Interestingly, one of the most distressing things Mrs. Johnson said she sees as a therapist is when she asks a client if they could imagine asking their partner for the deep reassurance they need. The response is usually, No I couldn't do that because I am not supposed to feel that way. That means I am not acting like an adult, that I am immature, weak and have some kind of problem.
How sad. Based on the latest research, this statement could not be further from the truth. How in the world are we to connect and create intimacy with the person we love if we can't talk about what we need?
Whether it is out loud or only to themselves, people young and old alike are constantly asking questions such as:
Do you love me?
Do I matter to you?
Will you come when I call?
Am I valued and accepted by you?
Of great concern to Mrs. Johnson is the fact that more and more people are living in couple relationships in isolation, putting enormous pressure on the spouse to meet all these emotional needs. As emotional isolation is more the order of the day, we are building societies in a way that has nothing to do with how we are wired.
Over time, society has sent the message that there is something wrong with needing other people. Yet Mrs. Johnson says research consistently shows it is in our DNA to need someone to depend on, a lover, one who can offer reliable emotional comfort. …