If you want the most fulfilling, deepest relationship, you need to start with open, honest communication and mutual trust. That creates intimacy, the longed for closeness that connects you and your mate’s truest selves. Intimacy is being emotionally naked. It means revealing and being seen and accepted for who you really are. Intimacy doesn’t necessarily mean sex. As you know, sex can be very intimate or not intimate at all.

How intimate you get depends on how genuinely you make yourself known to your partner. Although you may fervently want to be seen and heard, you might be afraid of how your partner will react. And with good reason. How many of us have opened up to someone who attacked, withdrew or used our confidences as ammunition later on? That’s where developing trust comes in. Do you and your mate make it safe to share your innermost thoughts and emotions? Do you both listen and understand without judgment and criticism, like true friends?

This may not be an easy place to get to if you came from a dysfunctional family, where the rules were: “don’t talk about it, don’t feel, and don’t trust anyone else, especially someone outside the family.” You can also be terrified of expressing yourself if someone in your family mocked or shamed you when you did. Sadly, negative conditioning can teach you to hurt and invalidate others when they reveal themselves. Cultural beliefs, marriages that are poor role models and emotional immaturity tend to reinforce these dysfunctional practices and keep us from looking at new ways of being. But if you want that loving, lasting relationship of your dreams, you and your mate have to have the courage and the commitment to creating intimacy.

Some things you want your partner to know about you and that you want to know about him or her are:

INTIMACY AWARENESS CHECKLIST

• Feelings that are hard to express
• When you feel hurt
• Past painful events
• When you lack confidence
• What makes you vulnerable
• What means the most to you
• Past joyful events
• Your hopes and dreams
• What opens your heart and what closes it
• What your vision for yourself is
• What you want as a vision for your relationship
• What you each are working on in your lives
• Anything that is stressing either of you
• How can you each be supportive and helpful to the other

INTIMACY EXERCISE

Set up a time for you and your partner to share. Make an agreement before you start that there will be no judgment or criticism. Then each choose one thing on the list to talk about. If all goes well, keep doing it and experience the wonders of soul to soul bonding, deep understanding, tolerance and love that intimacy brings.

If there are problems, discuss them and see if they can be resolved. If not, seek outside help to enable you to be safe for each other. It doesn’t make any sense to have to hide your most personal truths from the person you love and are committed to and with whom you are having a family and building a life. Not being able to be yourself with your partner makes unhappy relationships and marriages. We know. These couples arrive in counseling, feeling angry, misunderstood, and if they have kids, tortured about the impact a divorce will have on them.

The stakes are high and worth fighting for. Start now from wherever you are, keep your eye on the ball and go for it. You and your beloved deserve all the love, joy and power intimacy brings.

Happy Landings.