Sadly, for most of my marriage, my husband and I were living in isolation from each other due to the effects of pornography. Pornography was a topic that was not mentioned in my home unless we were arguing. Usually he was defending himself and making up lies while I was trying desperately to see through his lies and control his every move. For us, pornography was the white elephant in the room that no one dared to mention because if we did we would have to face reality of our hurt and loneliness. Unfortunately we did not realize this white elephant was the one thing causing us division and successfully separating what God had joined together. Living apart seemed much simpler than facing our reality. Simple… except living apart was a very lonely world.
I have come to realize that while I was living in my lonely world I was also living in denial. God eventually woke me up out of my denial state and I was forced to deal with the white elephant. Pornography was thrown in my face yet once again and I could not bear to continue living in isolation from my husband any longer. I wanted more... I wanted a husband that would be open and honest with me about everything; a husband whose heart I knew inside and out. I wanted true intimacy and not the false intimacy we had always experienced. Thank God, we are finally developing true intimacy in our relationship and learning new communication skills that keep us joined together. It’s not always easy but the work is well worth it!
For us, the work involved making a decision to be open and honest with each other no matter what. We chose to daily allow the other person to have their own feelings and to not be judgmental of one another. I have come to accept that no matter how my husband responds to my feelings, I just have to speak them and relate them to him openly so that intimacy can be nurtured. I must say, at the beginning I couldn’t trust what my husband was telling me. However, I chose to trust the process of developing true intimacy and in time I have been able to trust again.
Here are a few suggestions to help develop your intimate relationship with your spouse and help you both move into conversation and throw out the white elephant in the room!
- Be honest with your feelings and emotions without an explosion. Try using, “When you __________ I feel _______________ because _____________.”
- Listen to your spouse without judgment.
- Plan a date night without talking about the kids. Just spend time together in each other’s company.
- Take a walk together.
- Spend time holding each other while talking about your day.
- Spend time working through the Couples Recovery Workbook together. This is a great workbook that gives exercises to help you build true intimacy.
- Plan a weekend or a one night getaway for only the two of you.
- Remember to just have fun together!
These are just a few suggestions to help you move from isolation into conversation with each other to build intimacy. Remember that relationships involve time and emotional energy. What you put into it is what you get out of it!