At the core of a relationship at any stage of its development is emotional intimacy. It is what glues a husband and wife together and enables them to feel the vibrancy and vitality of a deep and meaningful bond. But, it must be emphasized, it is by no means automatically created, but requires active thought and investment. Over time, the emotionally intimate relationship finds a routine and flow; yet it will always necessitate conscious effort, energy and attention. Dullness and monotony will quickly and easily set in if your marriage becomes secondary and less devoted to. How can you achieve this? There are three very practical and effective ways of doing so, and they all revolve around sharing. One way is through sharing your day’s experiences with your spouse. Seldom do a husband and wife spend twenty-four hours of a day and night together. Their day begins together, after which they part ways to work, school or learning. As such, generally speaking, their time spent together will be primarily after a whole day of being apart. This, though, provides a fantastic opportunity to become even closer, for it forces a husband and wife to make the extra effort to share each other’s lives spent away from each other with each other. Tell your husband or wife about the interactions, accomplishments and events of the day. Express and relive the excitement you felt when you learned something that had eluded you for so long. Convey how happy you were that your student who was struggling did well on their test. Special time spent together at the end of the day can become a magnificent opportunity, especially for a newly-married couple, to become even closer than had they been with each other an entire day. Capitalize on it to bring your husband or wife into your life and make them feel a part of it.
The challenge of this level of sharing, however, is two-fold. For one, it can become quite easy to be out of touch with our experiences, and have nothing to share. We cruise throughout our daily routine and schedule, and feel as though we experience nothing special. Yet by pushing ourselves to tell our spouse how our day went, we are making the concerted effort to focus on otherwise unnoticed aspects of our life, which afford us the opportunity to deeply connect with each other. Imagine you, as the wife, remember holding the door open for the principal of the school, and she lent you a nice compliment. Had you glossed over this and not mentioned it to your husband, it would have been an incident that came and went. But now, it allows for you to appreciate yourself and for your husband to feel grateful for having a caring and kind wife. This seeming trivial event actually brings the both of you together in emotional intimacy.
The other challenge and benefit of this level of sharing, is that it demands of us to express ourselves, especially emotionally. It creates vulnerability, transparency and safety. Imagine you had a long, hard and upsetting day. You have a large degree of pent-up frustration, but don’t know how to convey it. Sensing this, your spouse creates a safe place for you to cry, yell, laugh or express whatever emotion you may be feeling. Sharing your day’s events then becomes not only cathartic for yourself, but allows for you and your spouse to experience each other’s raw emotion. You feel comfortable being hurt or unhappy because you feel your spouse’s support and shoulder. This once again enhances emotional intimacy. A second method of sharing comes not at the end of the day, but some time in the middle.
Spontaneously call your spouse and check in with them. Ideally, this is done through actually calling them and not texting, although texting is better than nothing. Tell them something that has already happened so far in your day (perhaps they knew it was on your schedule and they are anticipating hearing about it), and let them know that you will share more with them later that night. Or, if you don’t have anything to relate at the moment, tell them that you are looking forward to seeing them later on. Create moments of present excitement (if something good has happened) and anticipatory excitement (of seeing them later). When you return home later that day, connect your day with the present moment by telling them, “I couldn’t wait to come home and share this with you!” This conveys to your spouse that they are on your mind during the day and not just when you see them at home in person. When home together after a full day, try as much as possible to be positive. There will certainly be times when something arises which calls for feeling mad or sad; but the more positive energy that flows throughout the home, the more conducive it will be for growth, happiness and closeness. The third and last aspect of sharing relates to sharing in your spouse’s success. Aside from exchanging words during the day and sharing experiences at the end of the day, this sharing is a constant and unremitting backbone of the relationship. As R’ Akiva said of his wife, “What is mine and yours is hers.” Always remember and remind your spouse how your success is never just your personal success, but theirs too. Your accomplishments have only been facilitated by their love, support and encouragement. Putting aside the situations when investment in an interest, project or job unhealthily interferes with the welfare of the marriage, your spouse is your greatest support, and should always feel that way. Your husband or wife facilitated you becoming a greater teacher, accountant or doctor. To feel otherwise reflects a shallow understanding of how one becomes successful. Ask yourself the following question: who has contributed to me becoming who I am today? Quite likely, you will point to your parents, extended family, friends and teachers. Your core surrounding forms your core support system and lastingly shapes your development. But what about the people who stand in the distance and don’t seem as present in your day-to-day life? What about the people who prepared hot lunch for you at school? Or your roommate who quietly tiptoed into the room late at night, as to avoid awakening you, and allowed you to get enough rest that night? Or the security guard at school who always smiles and wishes you a “good morning” and puts you in a good mood? Or your parents who are overseas and have not seen you in a couple of years, yet pay your tuition and make known to you their love and support?
All of these individuals may stand in the background, yet have all had some degree of influence and impact on you. Your spouse is no different, and in fact, is even greater. If we would take the time to look beyond the immediate and obvious words and actions conveyed by them, we would find that there is much more to our success than it may seem. If a wife prepares her husband a sandwich for his day’s work, thereby enabling him to maximize his lunch break instead of spending time finding food elsewhere, she is a part of his success.
Or, if you arrived home after a long and stressful day and your husband or wife created a peaceful and relaxed atmosphere, they are a part of your success. They may have cleaned the carpet, prepared your favorite supper or simply facilitated easygoing, humorous conversation. This may then lead into getting a calm and good night’s sleep and feeling refreshed for the next day. The point to always remember is that who you are is never just who you are; it is who your spouse helps and builds you to be. Appreciating every effort expended by your spouse into easing your day and telling them how thankful you are is no simple gesture. Sharing with them your gratitude and letting them know that your life’s success is theirs too will certainly bring you closer together and create that emotional intimacy you are seeking.