Literally, in the bedroom—dogs, children, and technology are the main external “excuses” I hear for lack of marital intimacy. Metaphorically, there are several factors that all crowd the room and sow impediments and disappointments. These include attitudes and behaviors of one or both partner’s parents, cultural and religious taboos, past sexual experiences (particularly traumatic ones), and self-consciousness/criticism. Ultimately, running all these intruders out is critical to the creation of true intimacy—sexual or otherwise.
Setting Relational Boundaries for Marital Intimacy
Elsewhere in the house, the difficult behaviors of one or both partners, along with disobedient and uncooperative children call for boundaries. Also, the unreasonable imposition of work demands and the pressure of social obligations also call for limits. Add to that addiction to alcohol, drugs, and social media, all call out for the same solution: BOUNDARIES, BOUNDARIES, BOUNDARIES.
“But I have boundaries—its just that no one pays attention to them. They don’t work!”. Well then, you don’t have boundaries—you have wishful thinking and failed expectations. And it is counterproductive to your romantic involvements and marital intimacy. If you wanna jumpstart your marital intimacy journey, book a FREE 15-minute consultation with me.
Creating Consequences that Actually WORK
There is one essential element that every boundary must have firmly attached to it: CONSEQUENCES THAT WORK. Consequences for pets and kids are easier to implement (in theory) than they are for your adult partner. It probably won’t work to shut them outside, take away their phone, or confiscate their car keys. So, what’s the answer? In a loving relationship, this is what the best possible consequences should be for your partner’s behavior:
You: “I felt really ___________ (bad, disrespected, sad, foolish, etc,.) when I heard/saw that ____________.” Your partner: (to themself) “ I love this person. I don’t want them to feel that way. I’m not going to do that again”. (out loud) “I’m sorry. I didn’t want to make you feel________”. Unfortunately there is often a more common response. The aggrieved person: (to themself) “I’ll fix you. I’ll nag, withdraw, criticize, refuse to have sex, or shutdown. I will be uncooperative to make your life miserable when you do (or don’t do) that!”
That always leads to conflict and resentment for both partners. Setting BOUNDARIES and creating CONSEQUENCES THAT WORK is another one of those essential skills for a successful relationship. It is necessary to create and maintain marital intimacy. Like any skill, it can take commitment, coaching, practice, and discipline. In the long run, you’ll find it well worth the effort.