The New Intimacy
Archive 01

Menstuff® has compiled information and books on the issue of Relationships. This section is an archive of a weekly column featured daily on our homepage by husband and wife psychology team, Judith Sherven and Jim Sniechowski. They live in Windham, NY and can be heard M-F 4-5 PM and Saturdays 9-Noon on www.wisdomradio.com. They are the bestselling authors of "The New Intimacy" and "Opening to Love 365 Days a Year." Their latest book is Be Loved for Who You Really Are: How the differences between men and women can be turned into the source of the very best romance you'll ever know. Visit their website at www.thenewintimacy.com For their free weekly email newsletter, send email to thenewintimacy-on@mail-list.com You can write us with questions about your personal relationship. We print one letter a week with our answer. You can reach us at: thenewintimacy-list-owner@mail-list.com Archive 2001, Archive 2000.

December 24-30
December 17-23
December 10-16
December 3-9
November 26-December 2
November 19-25
November 12-18
November 5-11
October 29 - November 4
October 22-28
October 15-21
October 8-14
October 1-7
September 24-30
September 17-23
September 10-16
September 3-9
August 27-September 2
August 20-26
August 13-19
August 6-12
July 30-August 5

See Books, Issues

More 2

December 24-30


Quote of the Week

If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we would find sorrow and suffering enough to dispel all hostility. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1857)

Loving Endearments

Write a love letter to your special someone and put it in a gift box. Then wrap it up like a regular present and add it to any other gift(s) you're giving to your spouse/lover.

Make sure to describe all the wonderful ways this person blesses your life. Be romantic, be generous, be heartfelt!

If money is tight this year, the two of you might agree that you'll both do this instead of buy things.

And what a joy your children will have, hearing how much mom and dad love one another, when they hear you read your letters out loud.

The New Intimacy

One year when we were first married, we had no plans for Christmas Eve and wanted to do something fun and romantic. Since we'd already purchased gifts for one another and they were wrapped and under the tree, shopping didn't seem to be on the agenda.

But we hit on an adventure that we still recall with warm affection. Neither of us had ever explored the wacky and wild stores on Melrose Blvd in Los Angeles So we set out in our rain gear to walk up one side and down the other of that uncharted territory.

People of all sorts were doing their last minute shopping so the urge to buy things was pretty compelling. Here's how we solved our desire to not overspend and yet embrace the romance of the moment.

We set a $5 maximum on what we could spend on one another during this auxiliary shopping spree and we agreed to leave any store when told to do so by the other so surprises could be bought in private.

We must have shopped for a couple of hours from about 6-8 and then we found a cozy place for dinner. But before that we laughed and ran around hiding our treasures (bear shaped soap/50 cents for Jim, tiny movie clapper board photo frame/$1 for Judith, for example) truly filled with the spirit of the holidays and delighting in the free form romance we were creating out of impulse and imagination.

What zany idea comes to mind that would bring new intimacy and romance into your life this holiday season? Traditional celebrations can be lovely, but the ones you invent yourselves are the best!

Ask Judith & Jim

Dear Judith & Jim,

JIM

I am 26 and am in love with a man who is 50. He is my soul mate, the love of my life, I honestly feel we were meant to be with one another. I have one issue though. One of which USED to be a HUGE issue, but have dealt with it and has minimized itself. He and I have been together for a few years. We live together and he has a daughter older than I. So for the obvious reasons, he has no desire to have more children. I used to want children. But now that I found him, children will not exist. In the beginning, this was a blow for me.

I wanted children. I wish I could have met him years ago to have children with him. He is such a wonderful Father and a strong hearted and headed man. And more and more, as the time goes by, having children really became something that was not a "want" for me like it used to be. I think that that was because I realized the fact that there is only one person out there for each of us and he is the one for me. No matter what goes with it. Or in this case, doesn't go with it. So for whatever reason, having children really never was in my future.

Does this seem possible? Or am I trying to make myself comfortable with this theory, to accept that I will never be a Mom, because I am so in love with him? I have always been a firm believer in Fate. And I feel that Fate has brought me here today, in this relationship I am in. To be in love with this man who is the best thing that has ever happened to me. So, is it possible for my theory to be truthful? That there is only one person for everyone and that He is mine, therefore children will not be? I had accepted this entirely, but then when I moved in with him, my mom brought back a lot of feelings that I had buried. I just want to be sure......... I could never imagine my life without him. Sincerely,

The Fate Within.....

Dear Fate Within,

We would suggest you examine your need to have "Fate" be the responsible party for your choice to be with this man. You could be with other men for their positive and wonderful attributes, feel deeply loved and love them in return. There is no one-and-only for each of us.

You've found a terrific guy and feel blessed to be with him -- and have chosen to stay. Any time we marry or give our long-term commitment to a relationship we will never have everything we want. That is one of the tests of love.

So, the question to you is: Do you love your man enough to be with him - as is. And that means you choose not to have children. That is your question to. And, by the way you write about your relationship, you seem to have answered it.

Congratulations on being available for such a wonderful love!

© 2001 The New Intimacy

December 17-23


Quote of the Week

A good relationship has a pattern like a dance and is built on some of the same rules. The partners do not need to hold on tightly, because they move confidently in the same pattern, intricate but happy, swift and free. Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Loving Endearments

Why wait until your beloved's funeral to gather everyone together for the purpose of honoring his or her life?

Why not do it while the Honoree is still alive!

We're suggesting a new celebration: The Sweet Sixty-five Party.

Not just any regular birthday celebration, but a time to pay special respect to the guest of honor.

Hold the event at a place that is special to the birthday person. That might mean holding the party in a bowling alley, at the beach, in a movie theater (off hours), out in a garden, on a boat, or perhaps even in a boardroom.

Then make sure to have all the Honoree's favorite refreshments. That might mean waffles, pineapple pizza, and banana bread for dinner. Or perhaps it would be mini-tacos, M & Ms, and corn fritters for nibbles before the giant butter pecan ice cream cake for dessert. Show the person you love that you really know what they love to eat.

And tell your guests ahead of time to prepare the eulogy they would ordinarily deliver only after the person is gone. After everyone has arrived, and at a time that fits well with all you've planned for the party, seat your beloved in the place of honor. Then one-by-one, introduce each guest and explain the special relationship each has to the birthday person, followed by that person's Living Eulogy.

Now the main point of the Sweet Sixty-five Party is for the very alive person to receive all that praise and love when he or she can hear it!!! (You may want to tape record and/or video this love-praise celebration as an additional gift for future enjoyment.)

And there's no need to wait until a 65th birthday to turn a special celebration into a large group loving endearment.

The New Intimacy

This edition of The New Intimacy is in response to an email we received from our subscriber Isobel Phillips who live in Kent England, who commented on our new book,"Be Loved for Who You Really Are." She wrote "Your book is awesome and has become my road-map out of The Clash! "

It is critical to understand that when people clash, whether they are in a romantic relationship or they are two countries fighting a war, the process is the same. They become entrenched in their own point of view, are unwilling to be changed by the other person, and are insisting that their way is the only way. No matter how seemingly insignificant the clash, the elements are the same.

For a relationship to thrive, we have to be open to the reality that the other person will be different in many ways, AND those differences are what make us who we are. When we insist that the other be what we want them to be, we are inflicting emotional and spiritual violence. We are saying that who the other person is is not acceptable and, in so doing, we deny the other person's right to be. That is, at basis, what the clash is all about. Not about the content but about having been denied the right to be.

Isobel Phillips continues: My situation is a little unusual in that I'm in the UK and my significant other is in the US. We met online nearly 3 years ago, we talk on the phone just about every day and we've had two visits. He's 51 and I'm 48 and we're working on being together as soon as we can (which means I'll be moving to the US). He's a psychologist who followed his dream of being in a rock band until recently and I'm a Software Development manager for an IT solutions company. Neither of us has been married before and we're both VERY independent and strong-willed. Add to that the frustration of a long distance relationship and maybe it's not too surprising that "Clash" describes our communication style only too often!

I'm more controlling and judgmental than he is, but he's pretty good at resisting my attempts! :) I'm learning that it's ok for him to think differently from me, or to do things on his time frame rather than mine - and "Be Loved" is really helping me to let him be who he is.

Bravo Isobel and thanks again for sharing your love story with us all.

Yes, we must help each other allow one another to be who we are. When we do, that is a loving challenge to our partner and to ourselves. Because for any love to be trustworthy it must be for who we are, otherwise we can never be truly loved or secure in our relationship.

Ask Judith & Jim

Dear Judith & Jim,

I have been with the love of my life for almost 12 years. But we are not married. We have two children 8 and 3. He has often asked me about my views on marriage. I have told him that really I don't feel you have to be married to someone to make a commitment that I feel that true commitment comes straight from the heart and from within that person. Not a ring or a fancy wedding. I guess my views are like this due to my family's history of marriage. I am kind of scared to get married afraid that I too will lose what is so precious to me and what I have had for so many years. Our relationship has been great and has grown so much everyday that it doesn't even feel like its been 12 years. I don't know what I will do if he does ask. Do you think that getting married will bring anymore love or commitment to this relationship.

Scared and in love

Dear Scared,

You clearly have a view of marriage that threatens you. So, if you marry with that view in your unconscious, it will surface directly or indirectly and, if you are not aware of it when it does, it will sabotage you. Now, this doesn't have to happen. Should you get married, talk with him beforehand about your apprehension. Tell him all the images and feelings you have about what marriage was like in your family. Enlist him as an ally to help you see clearly whenever your unconscious wants to rule. Let him help you leave your family behind and continue to create the life you have together.

Marriage is a public ceremony that announces to the world the intentions of the couple to be together. Some people live long together without ever marrying. However, we believe that marriage adds a dimension that cannot otherwise be achieved.

Whenever any of us is strong enough in our commitment to make it public, we automatically add a level of responsibility beyond our self and beyond just the two people. That commitment binds us as a couple to the community.

As much as we pride individualism in the United States, the dimension of community is foundational to society as well as to marriage itself. We are no longer responsible only to our personal feelings and intentions, we enter into an alliance with those around us, beginning with family, then neighborhood, all the way to the larger society itself. In that way, marriage is an institution that transcends self and connects us to the larger world.

Having been together for 12 years, you are demonstrating the depth of your commitment to one another. Do your children know? If not, why not? If so, have you thought about what will happen should your children's friends discover that you are not married? What would the impact of that be?

More importantly, you are trapped by your own fears. And, even though you've been together for 12 years, the issue of marriage doesn't seem to be going away. So, first, for your own personal sake, we suggest you look into those fears and try to resolve them, just for your own peace of mind. Then you can re-visit the idea of marrying your man from a sense of security. And then, whatever decision you make, it will no longer haunt you as it is doing now.

© 2001 The New Intimacy

December 10-16


Quote of the Week

People respect wisdom, but obey pain. - Michael Levine

Loving Endearments

The other day Jim announced that he was making breakfast, including eggs and bacon. He asked Judith if she wanted some and she said no.

But once the cooking began, Judith was entranced by the succulent aromas of bacon, frying crisp, wafting up to my second floor office. She was being seduced by the crackling bacon.

Jim finished cooking and set about to enjoy his breakfast. Just then Judith came downstairs into the kitchen, and asked "Is there any extra bacon?"

Jim was struck by how sheepish she was abd how coy she was being. So to protect his precious bacon he firmly said, "No, there's none left" without glancing up from the newspaper.

Judith sighed. She looked like a puppy who'd been told to go back outside in the rain. "That's okay," she sighed again, trying to assureherself that she didn't really want any bacon.

Rethinking his position, Jim put his arm around Judith's shoulder. "Hey, Judith," he whispered, "would this half piece right here on the corner of my plate, would it do?" Judith's eyes shot open wide. "Really?" she smiled. "It would do just fine."

"Well," Jim said, "it's all yours."

Judith giggled and grabbed the crispy morsel. "You're the best." And then she gave Jim a huge hug.

That piece of bacon was one of the tastiest we'ed ever shared.. Remember, even a small piece of bacon can feel just like a Valentine.

The New Intimacy

It has been long accepted that love and pain are inextricably linked. You can't have one without the other. That pain takes many forms including unfulfilled longing, sexual frustration, fears of rejection, and jealousy. In many cultures, even today, passionate love, what is thought only to exist in what we call The First Passage of Love, that blissful, swept away feeling that brings transcendent experience, is condemned as madness and thought to be poor ground upon which to build a future. In several states in the U.S. some religious leaders are calling for a return to more controlled and constrained forms of courtship to avoid these early passions in an attempt to insure that marriages last a lifetime. And, let's be honest, love, whether passionate or not, brings with it its own set of problems and its own heartaches, even in the best of relationships, so much so that many believe that sorrow is an essential part of love. . .for example, the beloved will age and die. But is that love's fault? Or are we using love, manipulating it, contorting it, for other purposes than what love can offer?

However, the foundation of genuine emotional and spiritual maturity is a full acceptance and surrender to the reality that we live in on this earth and it is here that we must learn to love.

Whatever you believe about how and why we are here, the fact is that while we are here we must face into and deal with the pain and suffering that is part of this experience. We cannot get through this life without tests and trials and without plunging, sometimes, into the an emotional desert. It is well know that those who do not run from the obstacles and the dark moments learn from them and grow toward wisdom and personal integrity.

But, if there is pain with love, is that love's fault?

Well, yes and no. To the extent that love is part of the human, earthly experience, it too will bring trails and tests. But, to the extent that we refuse to accept that we are here on earth and we strive to deny the reality of what happens here, then we set up barriers to life and love and our self-imposed barriers bring the deepest and most excruciating pain.

For example, one universal romantic notion is that lovers intensely desire to merge with one another. Two become one. And then lovers cry out because they cannot help but fall short of such a union. But, is that the fault of love?

Why would two people want to become one? Why would someone want to lose themselves in another person and then claim that as the highest achievement of love? If they are successful in disappearing themselves into one another, who is left to love and be loved?

The deepest wisdom we can reach is to fully be where we are. To do that we must accept the conditions of where we are, honor and respect them and then build our lives accordingly. In other words, love. That will present enough problems without layering over it refusal, denial, and fantasy. So often we fail to take responsibility for our intentions and decisions, and then project responsibility onto anything that will help us not see what we are doing.

Love is not always easy. But love is not the enemy. And passionate love can be sustained when we cease clinging to adolescent notions of what love is supposed to be like over time (eternal skyrockets).

Let love lead you through the challenges and celebrations it has to offer until you grow in wisdom and respect for the earthly experience you are in. Embrace it with whatever it brings to you, and deepen the connection you feel to life and to one another.

Ask Judith & Jim

Dear Judith & Jim,

I writing in hopes that you may be able to shed some light on what has been happening in my relationship. My husband and I seem to be having some difficulty in connecting intimately.

We have known each other for approximately eight years, we dated for about 6 of those years and have been married for almost 1 year. At the beginning of our relationship we were very intimate and could connect sexually with no problem (lust). We continued to grow in our relationship and had no problem for the first 4 1/2 years, during which I was living at home and going to college.

My mother discovered our relationship and was quite upset, she proceeded to tell his mother. I was upset on how she handled the situation and I felt that the best thing for me to do was to move out of the house and get my own apartment. Once I moved in to my apartment the problems began. Making love was something that we didn't do like we used to, it happened once every three weeks or once a month. I tried to talk to him to see what the problem was but never did I get an answer. I was upset and confused. I think it may have been because of his mother and the fact that she does not believe in sex before marriage. I still do not know why we have this problem.

It has been going on for about 2 1/2 years now and I was hoping that upon marriage things would change. I used to bother him about it, but now I just wait. Sometimes I can wait a month, after awhile I can't help but drop hints here and there. I have tried wearing sexy night gowns and planing romantic evenings, but nothing seems to work.

Also, I have noticed that he enjoys getting on the internet to look at porno sites and watching our small collection of porno movies without me. I don't know why he does not feel the urge to connect with me like he used to.

He is still very affectionate with me and enjoys holding me but anything more just doesn't interest him. Does it have to do with his mother?

Please help. Frustrated

Dear Frustrated,

You were making love for the 4 1/2 years that your mother did not know about the relationship. So there was a quality of hiding and a quality of being illicit about what you were doing. So then you moved into your own apartment and began to conduct an above-board life and the sex faded.

Now he is enjoying pornography and does so alone. Regardless of whether or not porn is legally available on film and on the net, there is still an illicit quality about watching it. It requires one to enjoy being a voyeur, to "snoop" unnoticed on what are supposed to be private acts. That is what, in part, adds to the excitement of watching porn. In fact, after you've seen one porn film there's nothing left to see, except that some films become truly degenerate as the way to hook the buyer.

Also, before your relationship was known to her world, he was making love and breaking the law...the law of his mother. So again there was a quality of being a bad boy and getting away with it.

Because he is still affectionate and you are still otherwise close, we suggest therapy for him, preferably in the form of couples counseling at first to bring to consciousness the issues we've just pointed out. This is not about sex but about sneaking, about getting away with something, about rebelling and breaking the law, whose ever law is relevant. . . society's, his mother's, or his own internal constraints.

We wish you the best.

© 2001 The New Intimacy

December 3-9


Quote of the Week

Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. The friends who listen to us are the ones we move toward. When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand. Dr. Karl Menninger

Loving Endearments

Challenging your partner can be a loving endearment.

Most people think that a challenge is about competition or even worse about win/lose. But if you love someone and you truly care for their well being, then you may have to challenge them when you see them doing something you know, and perhaps even they know, is not for their own good.

Judith does not react well to processed or refined foods. But she enjoys an occasional treat of ice cream which is usually made with refined sugar.

JIM: I not only feel no concern, but feel it is my loving obligation to remind Judith, when she says she wants a single scoop of vanilla chocolate chip, her favorite, that she will not have a pleasant reaction. More so, she is making a choice that goes against her own well being. If she insists, I will raise the stakes by challenging her to stay true to her word, that she doesn't really want the ice-cream but has been taken over by a momentary craving, usually an indication that she's feeling put-upon or victimized and wants comfort in the form of a sweet.

JUDITH: If I persist, Jim backs off because we both know that my reaction will not be long-lasting and physically it will be little more than unpleasant. But I respect and cherish his commitment to bring my behavior to my attention. And there are many times when the situation is reversed and I have to challenge him.

Those are loving challenges intended to keep us conscious.

Don't be afraid to challenge your partner's behaviors. If you really care about her/him, you will be expressing your love in a very direct and determined manner. And, by the way, that is real love, a love the two of you can trust for the long run.

The New Intimacy

Co-Created Means Equal Input

From the very first minute you meet, you begin teaching each other who you are. What you want or don't. What you'll accept or won't. What you're interested in or not. This happens consciously or unconsciously, directly or indirectly. And each of you has equal input as to how the relationship takes form and expression. This fact is so often misunderstood, it bears repeating: Each of you has equal input on how the relationship takes form and expression. You are not powerless, regardless of how it may feel.

Marsha and Stan had been married for eight years. He was a plant foreman for a tire manufacturing company. She kept house and raised their two children. They had adopted their gender stereotypes without question. When they came to us, he was fed up with his work and she felt imprisoned in the house, and they were blaming each other.

"He thinks all I'm good for is cleaning, washing, and cooking."

"When did I say that? When?"

"Never. Okay. Never. But I can feel it from you."

"It doesn't matter what I say. You can feel it, so that must be the way it is, huh?" But they hadn't always been at each other. To their friends they seemed like a normal couple. And given the area in which they lived, they were. He did the man things. She did the woman things, just like everybody else in the neighborhood.

"I'm feelin' suffocated, ya know?" Stan was weary. "I go to this damn job every day and come home to . . ." He turned to Marsha. "When did it go bad? For you, I mean. What did I do?" His openness and vulnerability filled the room. Marsha softened.

"He was the man, ya know," Marsha said. "I was raised to listen. I never said nothin'. I did what he said."

"How many times did I ask for your opinion? Huh?" Stan sighed. "You left it to me. So I did what I thought was best. Now she tells me I act like her boss. I can't win no way."

We were able to show them how they were collaborators in the disappointment and repression they were feeling. It was more difficult with Marsha because, on the surface, it appeared that she was powerless. But every time she deferred to Stan she was unwittingly teaching him to take charge. When he did, he unknowingly affirmed her choice to submit. They were a team, right from the start, stuck in the ways they were raised to believe men and women were supposed to behave.

As your relationship evolves, at times you are either actively influential suggesting, requesting, pretending, planning, negating, and initiating behaviors and activities or, at other times, you are passive going along, putting up with, perhaps pouting and hiding your feelings. Whichever approach you take, you are as powerful as your partner in influencing your relationship, for better or worse.

Ask Judith & Jim

Dear Judith & Jim,

I receive your ezine every week since I have been going thru separation after twenty-one years of marriage.

My husband was gone for a year to college, work related and in the last months of school had an affair. It is still going on. He left the house but since we have two kids (young age) he continues to come as he pleases. The dilemma is that he continues to say that he loves me very much but that he got into this problem and wants to get out on his own without hurting more people. He wants to work things out but continues to see the other woman and spends evenings together as well as week-ends on vacation. I have been very patient because I love him and because of all this problem he is being followed for depression and goes to counseling. He is on medication and his behavior is better with less verbal abuse towards the kids and I. However my question is : Since I know that he continues with her but says that he wants to work things out with me and his family, should I continue to be patient or keep on with my life since I can't trust him at the present? I know I could work things out and start again, putting the past to the past. We have been talking and intimate conversations have been part of it but he still continues with his game. He says that that feeling of being alive again is good. I understand that the passion of an affair will not last, I don't think he understands this but it's not up to me to make his decision. This is a short version of the problem since it has been very complicated but I would appreciate an answer.

Still Waiting,

Dear Still Waiting,

Thanks for the opportunity to yet again talk about what love is, . . . one of the most misunderstood experiences and without doubt one of the most misused words in our human vocabulary.

He says he loves you. Given his behavior, what exactly does that mean? Does feeling love give him license to completely disrupt the life of your family and your marriage? Does saying "I love you," override his actions and allow him to wallow in confusion about what he wants? If he does as he pleases, coming and going at his own whim, in what way does the love he claims to have for you and the kids take you and them into consideration? Saying "I love you," is less than cheap when it is used as a protection for wanton disregard.

And you say you love him. Yes, after twenty-one years, you have history, attachments, familiarity, rituals, habits, and forgiveness. That create an aura of comfort, identity as a couple, emotional and sexual intimacy, a sense of understanding and being understood, and a personal treasury of memories and feelings and we fear that when you say you love him you are focusing on what has been and not giving due attention to what is happening now.

Love can only take root is what is real and can only be sustained by what is real. Anything else is fantasy and is, at best, adolescent, and, at worst, a dangerous denial that is not merely heartbreaking, but humiliating and personally demeaning..

In most cases, love is about feelings at the outset and that's okay, because there is little else to go on. But if love does not graduate to include actions that are based on personal responsibility and accountability and being as good as one's word, then love is not even a child's game but a manipulation of our tenderest of hopes and a mockery of our most vulnerable yearnings.

So, before you decide what you will do, please take love out of the equation. It will only cause you to underrate the facts and make choices based on smoke and mirrors.

Now, if he truly wants to work things out, you must insist, for your own self-esteem, that he stop seeing the other woman. Otherwise it will be impossible, to say nothing of a fraud. If he won't or can't -- you must move on -- developing a new life for yourself and your kids.

If you truly want to work things out, then you will have to find out what happened in your marriage that contributed to this situation and what in you is susceptible to "love" such that you are even confused as to what to do. Both of you have a lot of changing to do.

Salvaging your marriage is not out of the question. But the two of you are going to have to get your feet on the ground and deal with what is. That's your only chance.

We wish you the best.

© 2001 The New Intimacy

November 26-December 2


Loving Endearments

None of us ever know who may be watching when we are affectionate and caring with those we love. Yet we can have a real and life-changing impact without ever knowing about it.

As we finished an interview for a San Diego morning news television broadcast, we had to take two steps down in order to leave the set. Because of a torn retina, which, after surgery, is now almost completely healed, Judith has some lingering trouble with depth perception. Jim is always careful to assist her when it comes to walking down steps. So as we reached the two steps, he took Judith's hand. Just then the female newscaster squealed with delight at how romantic that was. For us it was so much a part of our life that we were pleasantly surprised to be made aware by the news-woman of what was a real loving endearment that we had taken for granted.

You never know what affect you may have on others, even from the slightest gesture of affection. That's how powerful real love can be. Because when we see it we know it, we feel it, we are moved by it, and if even for a moment, the world is a better place.

The New Intimacy

(This is an excerpt from "Be Loved.")

Throughout history, our foremost spiritual teachers have understood that to expand your consciousness, you have to go through some kind of personal ordeal. An awakened vision comes only after you squarely face into a demanding challenge and then release and let go of whatever limiting beliefs hold you back, even if they are those you treasure. Then you open yourself to the new awareness that awaits on the other side of your trial. When you do that, you move into a larger and more encompassing consciousness, one that inspires more empathy, more compassion, more of a sense of unity with the diversity of life. You grow as you are able to embrace that which is different from you.

We're not suggesting that you have to become a mystic or a religious leader to experience the spiritual dimensions of your relationship. We are saying that when you embrace the challenge of differences -- which is at the coreof spiritual awakening -- you have the opportunity to grow each time youand your partner find yourselves in a conflict.

Spiritual change is not merely a change in appearance. It is a metamorphosis, like carbon becoming diamond. That kind of change cannot take place without struggle, without a spiritual workout. Sometimes it takes a serious struggle with a well-intentioned partner to wake us up.

When you avoid conflict, you pass up the chance to know yourself and your partner better. Since such knowledge is required for intimate love, conflict can be a special blessing. It's an adventure of practical spirituality compelling you to move beyond being self-centered. Yet, at the same time, you surely don't want to lose your independence. You like your own habits, attitudes and quirky ways of doing things. But here's the catch. Your partner feels exactly the same way about his or her habits, attitudes and quirky ways. So, t he point is to balance intimacy and the desire to love and be loved with your need for independence and autonomy.

Here's a question to think about. "What do you do with the ways the two of you are different, especially when those differences spark anger and conflict?" This question applies to those of you who are dating and those who've been long married.

Ask Judith & Jim

Dear Judith & Jim,

Ok, I have been dating the same man for 18 months, he has been through a very difficult divorce with me and was my backbone in a lot of ways. He has been there for me to hear my sorrows and to laugh with me, but there is one thing that continues to trouble me. He has this habit of having me pay for things that I don't feel I should. We had this problem back close to a year ago and we ended up breaking up over it and he said he would get better and to some extent he has, but here lately it is getting back to old habits again. For example, this one evening he asked me to go to dinner with him and he flat out said he was buying and I said sure it would be nice to get out, well, the place we went to only excepted cash and he knew this, we had been there before. Well, after we order our drinks he turns to me and says, "oh no you know what?" and I was like, "You don't have any cash." and sure enough he only had his debit card.

So, I was like fine I will take care of it and he said he would pay me back when we left. Now, granted I do not have a problem paying for dinner but if he asks me I think he should pay and if I ask him I feel that I should pay. So, after dinner was over we went to the ATM so he could draw out the money. Dinner was $25.00 approximately. We get to the ATM and he drew out $30.00 and then hands me a $10.00 bill and says that should be my portion. I was dumfounded I did not know how to react and me speaking from my mouth not my mind I said, "Oh now I see how it is you ask ME to dinner and we go dutch but if I ask YOU to dinner I pay..hmmm who is getting shafted here." and he just looked at me. I could even understand this more if I made more money than him to some degree, but he makes nearly twice what I do.

So is it right for me to feel discouraged in letting this man move in with me?

I have spoken to him about it and he even offered me another $10.00, but that isn't the point, in my opinion he should have given it to me without me having to say anything about it due to consideration. Can I have another opinion on this please?

Thank you,

Feeling Shafted in IL

Dear Feeling Shafted,

Be careful. You are shoulding on yourself and him. By that we mean that whenever the world "should" comes up, it is a real danger signal. In your case you say "in my opinion he should have given it to me without me having to say anything about it." That means he was supposed to know what to do to satisfy you. But it sounds like you never gave him the instructions. You just expected that he would know, that he should know and so you "should" on him.

This does not take him off the hook. He was not clear with you either when he said he would repay you, suggesting he would pay for the entire dinner, and what he meant was he would pay for his half. And yes, social etiquette says that the person who invites, pays. That's just a way of avoiding awkward situations when the check arrives.

Then you ask . . . "is it right for me to feel discouraged in letting this man move in with me?" Again you are setting yourself up for heartache. Why? Because you are concerned in your letter to us only about his moving in you are giving yourself away to this situation without taking care of yourself.

You are disempowering yourself. How?

You are not asking how you might talk with him about what irritates you and looking for a way to resolve this difficulty. You are skipping by the problem your present and leaping to another consideration. Moving in. What in you is not looking at what is at hand? Can you live with him? Do you want to? Is it good for you now? Yes he's been there for you, but beware of being caught up in a rebound-infatuation. You needed someone. He fulfilled your need. But is he someone foe the long-haul or someone who was perfect in a crisis?

Finally, beware the "shoulds." He can't read your mind. Tell him what you want and see how he responds. We know it's been 18 months, but all of them spent during a crisis. Do you really know each other? And how do two people get to know each other? By revealing themselves. By asking for what they want. By speaking up when they feel hurt'

Stop the shoulds. Tell him how you feel. See what se says and does and then ecide.

© 2001 The New Intimacy

November 19-25


Loving Endearments

This endearment was submitted by our subscriber Amy

Last summer I was in my last trimester with our third boy.I can't stand Kansas heat and humidity when I am not pregnant and being so far along only made me more miserable.

We had the air conditioning fixed in our car, but then it went kapput. Once again repaired; kapput. So we were driving around in our old clinker van as it had better air flow and was at least a little cooler. The only problem was my window was VERY difficult to roll up once we got home for the evening.

I griped and moaned as I was rolling it up and finally stopped rolling it down when we went anywhere.

My husband noticed what I was doing and he said what still seems like the sweetest thing. "Anytime you want to roll the window down you can just leave it and I will roll it back up when we stop."

It was so truly sweet!! To this day, it just makes me realize how the small things make love so precious! It's not about passion or fire, it's the small things that keep me in love!

We just celebrated our 7 yr anniversary!

P.S. I love this newsletter! Thank you so much for putting out something for real people!!!

The New Intimacy

We hear so many complaints from women of all ages that the man they love, whether boyfriend or husband, never thinks to be romantic. Never sends flowers to them at their office. Never brings home a great bouquet to help set the scene for a big dinner party she's worked so hard to prepare. And never gives her a single long-stem rose "just because."

Why is this complaint so common?

After all, florists are all too happy to help people select something. So ignorance about flowers can't be the problem. And the lack of money isn't the problem in the multitude of complaints we've listened to.

However, one of the noticeable roadblocks we've seen too many times to call it chance, is women's difficulty in receiving love gifts, in this case flowers.

In one instance, the boyfriend brought her a gorgeous bouquet for her birthday, yet all she could do was complain that she was allergic to one of the lilies in the mix, as if he should have known that ahead of time. Then there's the time that the husband had to be out of town for their anniversary so he ordered flowers to be delivered to his wife by a local florist on their special day. While the wife thanked him for his thoughtfulness, he was deeply disappointed that she focused more on how that particular florist overcharged for everything. One woman pitched a fit at her fiancé when he had Valentine's flowers delivered to her home rather than to the office where she could show them off to her office mates.

Men have no easier time receiving love gifts, flowers or otherwise. Make no doubt about it. And many men would love to receive the romance of flowers from their wife or girlfriend. But for this limited space we've focused on women to make our point.

The point is that in the new intimacy, receiving the love that is given to you, even and especially when it arrives in an unfamiliar form, is one of the most romantic and intimate behaviors you can offer to your beloved, your relationship, and yourself.. And you can do that consciously for the rest of your life!

Certainly you may need to educate about allergies, overcharging, and a preference for office deliveries, but don't sabotage the love moment by complaining and criticizing instead of receiving. Save the request for change for another time.

When love comes to call on you, whether it's in the form of flowers, hugs, chores done around the house, and so many other ways, surrender to receiving, open your heart to receiving, make love out of bed by receiving the love that is given to you! 

Ask Judith & Jim

Dear Judith & Jim,

I just discovered your newsletter and am enjoying it immensely. I have just begun a relationship and am troubled over the nature of chemistry and passion.

After a 5-hour first date for dinner during which we had a wonderful time, my new friend told me he was not feeling great physical chemistry. This, despite saying he found me very attractive, bright, funny, and an amazing woman with the qualities he's looking for. This man was divorced 3 years ago, after a marriage that lacked true sexual passion, although they did engage in purely sexual encounters without emotional engagement.

My friend has said he expected to feel a powerful surge of attraction immediately, otherwise he would feel he would be repeating the attern with his wife. Although he enjoys kissing, touching, holding, and caressing me, and even enjoys strong arousal from our contact, he maintains his feelings of passion are not as strong as he feels they should be.

We've known each other for ONLY 9 days, and we have both shared that we already have feelings of love, as well as deep respect and admiration for the other, based on our understanding of each other's character, qualities, and our mutual desire for a long-term, committed relationship. He has acknowledged he feels that perhaps he is not ABLE to give himself over to reckless passion, or to kiss with abandonment. He also says that for him, sex is either very gentle and tender, or blatantly sexual.

Help! I'm now so confused. Is it realistic for him to expect to feel such strong passion so soon? He has said I'm the type of woman he's always dreamed of and can envision a life with me, even having another child together. Any light you can shed on this would a great help. Thanks so much.

K

Dear K,

Your new love seems to be caught in the psychological madonna-whore split in the way he views women. Either he has blatantly sexual sex with a "whore" and has no feelings of care or tenderness or he loves someone but unconsciously sees her as a "madonna" and cannot surrender to abandoned passion. This split is not uncommon among men.

He also is not acknowledging the fear he may be feeling at being so attracted to you and finding you so desirable in all other ways. That too is common, for both men and women. It is the fear of intimacy, not just of being exposed but of experiencing a depth of feeling that takes us beyond anything we've ever imagined. As much as we all desire intimacy, it comes with a price, the price of depth and awe and surrender.

We applaud his open discussions with you about his concerns and lack of wild arousal. However, he seems to not understand that sexual passion is something that has to be learned about and developed between two people. If not at first, certainly after the relationship is secure and committed. Then both people have to bring more of their vulnerability to their lovemaking in order to keep it meaningful, romantic, and exciting.

To think that instant chemistry will take over and be the harbinger of deep love is naive. Chemistry can take over, most often when someone is young (although not always). However, as delicious as chemistry can be, it is impersonal. That's why we call it "chemistry." Our biology takes over and we're along for the ride whether we like it or not.

Full and meaningful lovemaking is the result of trust, exploration, desire, humility, excitement, gratitude, passion, and the flow if the heart. That doesn't happen overnight and it can only happen through a conscious and willing commitment to be present for one another over time.

Please discuss these issues with your man. And be sure to ask him how he has come to believe that he cannot give himself over to strong passion and abandoned love-making. Why is he in hiding? Where did he learn to dampen his sexuality and then demand that high arousal be the test of a relationship? And, most important, is he willing to engage in the creative, romantic, and highly intimate lovework of developing a mutually satisfying sex life with you?

We wish you the best. It sounds like you have the start of something that could be quite wonderful, as long as he doesn't use his "instant lust" criteria to sabotage your relationship.

Quote of the Week

There is nothing like a dream to create the future. Victor Hugo

© 2001 The New Intimacy

November 12-18


From Judith & Jim

As you all know, we take the experience of love, intimacy and relationship very seriously. In fact all three have been so trivialized in recent years through sitcoms, superficial movies, and a tragic lack of understanding for what it takes to co-create and keep a long-term, supportive, and loving relationship growing and ever romantic. Yet at the same time, the expectations of what a relationship can deliver have never been higher. So most people are pulled in opposite directions.

On the one hand they want a great deal from their relationships; while at the same time they assume that what they want will somehow just happen and that they don't have to do much to get what they want. The result is terrible .heartache, resentment, and anger with the other gender and often a sense of hopelessness with love and a feeling of having been deceived.

That's why we write what we write and that's why we are so determined to get our message out there.

Quote of the Week

The truth is that every human being deserves to be looked at in this way at least once in a lifetime. . . loved and venerated for what is authentically divine in him or her. Suzanne Lilar

The New Intimacy

How many times have you been upset about something and your spouse or date didn't take you seriously? They might've even been trying to make you feel better, but instead, you felt overlooked or ignored and, instead of feeling better, you felt invisible!

Well, given the temperatures in the teens and below, we're in the season for indoor mice. The little guys need to burrow in somewhere warm and cozy with a good food supply, sort of like our kitchen. Judith can't stand the mice and the tell tale evidence of their visitations. Jim accepts them as part of country life and though he'd rather they not come in, when they do he doesn't get as upset.

We'd heard from a radio host who lives in an old farmhouse in Minnesota that mice hate the smell of Bounce, the fabric softener people put in the dryer. The other day while Judith was cooking dinner, Jim put sheets of Bounce all around and especially in the kitchen drawers where the mice love it best. He knew and respected Judith's concerns. If he'd been living alone, he might or might not have bothered to put Bounce in the drawers. But Judith is part of his consciousness and her concern with the mice made it his concern as well.

What gesture can you offer to your partner that honors his or her concerns -- especially when they are not what you might consider important. It just takes making the other person's needs as meaningful to them as yours are to you. Then, doing something for them is not an effort but a pleasure -- for both of you!

© 2001 The New Intimacy

November 5-11


One of the markers of childhood is the need to have the environment - family, neighborhood, etc. - provide a sense of being alive. For example, mothers are constantly creating things for their children to do to keep them busy. So children learn to rely on what's outside of them to be the source of their life. That's one way they learn to become intimate with what's around them. They are children, after all, and have little internal sense of self they can rely on.

But, as we grow up, chronologically, at least, our internal sense of self is supposed to emerge. But there's no guarantee of that happening. Many of us remain hooked to outside stimulation and cannot hear the whispered prodding of our own soul.

But intimacy is about sharing what we're like inside and receiving what our partner shows about his or her inside. How do we develop an inside, a sense of self from which we can have something to share, to be intimate?

By "inside" we don't mean ideas you've learned from books, or opinions you've snatched from someone else. And we don't just mean feelings, which are indisputably yours -- if you can recognize them, that is. A sense of self begins to grow when you consciously decide to shift from the habit of looking out to others to stimulate you and begin to rely on your inner Self.

To do that, at first you need to be quiet. Not just silent, but still. The craving for outside stimulation needs to cease being dominant.

Initially, it will feel like nothing's happening, like your life has just shut down. At that point, many people panic and go looking for an energy fix. What they get is just energy. Perhaps high energy, like loud music, but just energy.

When things shut down, that's the time to turn your attention inward and listen -- with your imagination, your intuition, your sense perception. Become intimate with your presence in the world. If you persist, the quiet deepens and you will become more and more secure with your own internal landscape. And then the sweetest intimacy will open itself to you, an intimacy with your Self, with others, with life, with God, with being. A sense of profound connectedness will emerge, a sense of the Eternal in the mundane, of the extraordinary in the simplest events of your day. And you will feel a closeness that only poetry can begin to convey - a deep quiet closeness that is always present.

Let go the habits of childhood and step into your own soul.

© 2001 The New Intimacy

October 29 - November 4


The other day we took a walk out to a nearby field. Behind several tall pines, hidden away from open view, a single, small flower spread its blossoms toward the sun. It was a deep red, vivid -- very strong and straight on its thin stem.

"Proud," Jim said.

"Proud and powerful," Judith answered.

We both knelt next to it, captivated, surrendering to an unexpected meditation.

So unseen this little red miracle was, so out of the way, and that didn't matter at all. Appreciated or not, it gave all it had to its life.

"Can we give everything," Jim whispered, "even if what we do goes unacknowledged?"

"Especially if it goes unacknowledged!" Judith smiled.

"I'd like that," Jim said, taking Judith by the hand. "To live for the sheer experience of being alive."

We felt small next to this giant flower and, although we hadn't said a word, we knew we were suddenly filled with deep longing.

Intimacy is like that, you know. When we allow ourselves to open and connect, intimacy can be an unexpected teacher, taking us into unacknowledged places in our self.

Whenever any of us stops long enough to open, to feel the tenderness that is at the core of being alive, the magic of the mystery appears - right there, wherever we are.

That little red flower became a portal, a threshold into the world of the ordinary and the sacred, into something completely expected and yet utterly surprising. That's the pleasure and the reward of real intimacy. It takes you through what you already know out beyond your imagination.

We stayed with that flower for some minutes, each in our own silence. And then, as though on cue, we rose, and walked hand in hand back to the house.

There are opportunities all around you, right now, in your daily life, for intimacy to carry you into yourself and out toward those you love.

Let it. Just say yes, open your eyes and let it.

© 2001 The New Intimacy

October 22-28


From Judith & Jim

Since September 11, we've all been thrust into a world filled with fear and uncertainty. Men and women are turning to their loved ones as a source of sanity and security. But can their relationships hold up under this new and intense need? Can marriages and families grow even closer when terrorists are trying to pull them apart?

These unprecedented times demand that we go beyond platitudes and superficial techniques and give men and women a strong and sure basis to support the love they have for one another and their children.

In our new book, "Be Loved for Who You Really Are," we show how to avoid the major pitfalls like emotional withdrawal, unwarranted anger, distrust, loss of faith in the future that can arise under these extraordinary pressures. And we make it clear how real romance and deepened intimacy can be yours even during such difficult times. Understanding how to unify your relationship and protect against the chaos that wants to divide you is one of the promises of "Be Loved."

Quote of the Week

If you want something you've never had, you better be willing to do something you've never done. Anonymous

Loving Endearments

Many people are finding that these difficult times are helping them put daily events into better perspective. What seemed like a tragedy before 9/11 now can look like just a blip on the ever-changing screen of life.

In fact, just a few days after the attack, when Judith started cooking dinner, she turned the electric stove on to High under the Brussels sprouts she'd cut up earlier in the afternoon. But she'd forgotten that there was no water in the pan.

Soon she smelled something burning and in a flash remembered she'd not put in the water. She grabbed the pan and in a kind of panic set it down on the old Formica counter. Then quickly picked it back up and put in water to cool it off and then set it down again, not realizing that the pan had burned two spots on the counter top.

When she had matters under control she realized what had happened and began to berate herself.

Just then Jim entered the kitchen. He immediately put his arms around her and said, "Look, we'll just tell people that there were aliens here and they left their fingerprints," pointing, of course, to the two brown burn marks.

We both laughed at how unimportant the old counter top was and decided that there was probably some kind of touch-up paint or something we could get to repair it. Then we discussed the importance of being compassionate and caring.After all, it's not everyday you get visited by aliens.

During these difficult times, please be sure to comfort one another when life is more than one or both of you can handle with grace. Even when you don't understand the other's experience, that difference is just an opportunity to get to know one another more intimately. And that's real romance!

The New Intimacy

Terrorism is having a profound effect on how men and women are relating to one another. Take a moment and consider this fact. Men and women are all we have. That's it. After us there is no one and nothing. How we treat each other and how we treat the differences between us is is the foundation of whatever future we will experience.

We are all undergoing a kind of pressure that most of us have never imagined as a result of being thrust into an unknown that even the toughest among us have never had to deal with. That's not an exaggeration. That's also not an excuse we can use to avoid responsibility for what we say and do.

But this new world we now live in has inspired many, many people to look within as never before. For example, there is a marked increase in divorce proceedings being stopped by the couples who have filed them. Not the judge, but the people involved are reconsidering.

Dating services are seeing a marked increase in activity as well as an increase in subscriptions. Those who are without someone are making a concerted effort to find a connection.

There has been an increase in marriages and those who are taking the vows have said that the attack and the world conditions have caused them to realize how precious a loving relationship is.

On the dark side, there has also been an increase in domestic violence and child abuse reports since September 11. The new pressures are inflaming a violence that was there to begin with.

So what do we do?

We must be alert. That means more than just watching out for someone who might be acting suspiciously. Because in fact, very few of us are ever going to be in the presence of someone who might have terrorist intentions.

We must become more conscious and that is now far more than just a new age platitude. Becoming more conscious actually is now a prescription for the future of our planet. And becoming more conscious is something everyone of us not only can do, we must.

  • Pay attention to the respect you feel for others. Respect contains a reverence that affirms life.
  • Be aware of any contempt you feel. Contempt kills, because you nullify the right of someone to be who they are, different from you.
  • Be sensitive to your own thoughts, because, at the very least, thoughts are energy and energy cannot be destroyed. So no matter how internal and private it may appear, a thought does send something, for good or for not, out into the world, and you are responsible for that transmission.
  • Make a commitment to become more discerning. Discernment can be understood as cutting through to the truth. Go beyond the surface toward what is implied and even hidden.. Don't settle for easy understanding. Easy understanding results is cliches and stereotypes which deny the magnificent uniqueness, the true specialness of everyone and everything you encounter.
  • And finally, do not allow your self to be put down, to be feel less than, either by someone else or by yourself. That's a guaranteed path to resentment, rage and ultimately violence.

Yes there are any number of pressures now, but remember, it is pressure that transforms carbon into diamond.

Ask Judith & Jim

Dear Judith & Jim,

My husband and I recently married, and ever since, things have been sour. I walk around the house yearning for him to say something, anything, to me.

A "hello, how was your day" would be wonderful. He says nothing to me. If I walk into the room where he is, he'll go in the bedroom to watch TV. It feels like he's avoiding me. I try to ignore it, but it's tearing me apart. He's so loving to our daughter. I don't understand. I sit alone crying because it hurts inside. He doesn't even notice. He never looks at me, touches me, says a word to me. I'm an attractive woman. 5'4", 115lbs, blonde hair. I recently had to have part of my cervix removed due to pre-cancer tissues, and have not been able to do any sexual activity. (Except some activities) He doesn't want that though. He is mad because I can't have sex with him. What is going on I can't take this anymore. Is he cheating on me, and is afraid to leave me for fear I will take his daughter away, or what?

Lost and Lonely

Dear Lost and Lonely,

We can't know why your husband is behaving the way he is -- you must ask him. And you must insist on an in-depth answer -- beyond anger at your surgery.

We've counseled a number of people who have had unexpected experiences, from simple surprise to major crises, impact upon their marriage. In every instance, because they were unprepared beforehand for the reality that life

might bring them very difficult challenges, and because they insisted on clinging to their fantasies of what a marriage was "supposed" to be like, their marriages were thrown into chaos.

Your husband is relating in a loving way to your daughter because that is doubtless a far less complicated relationship. With you he has to face the medical treatment you've had and the lack of intercourse, and the resulting feelings he probably had no idea he would feel, and through it all he has withdrawn. He is probably scared, which is understandable, but he is acting deprived which is hurting you terribly and providing no solace for him.

We don't believe he is cheating, although we can't be sure of that. And yes he probably is afraid of losing his daughter. We strongly suggest you both get into marital counseling. If he refuses, you must make it clear to him that your marriage is at stake as well as his daughter and that you cannot go on the way you are.

If you cannot do this for yourself, please do it for your daughter. Growing up in the unloving atmosphere that exists right now will damage her ability to love and/or be loved in the future. You must help your husband understand that it is not just for your marriage that you insist on change, but for the well being of the daughter he so obviously loves.

Let us know what happens.

© 2001 The New Intimacy

October 15-21


Loving Endearments

Sometimes we need to take a break from what we are so intent on accomplishing and open to let life flow through us.

Judith has an extraordinary capacity to sit at her computer and be non-stop productive. But no matter her capacity for endurance there is a danger that, if she doesn't now and then just set aside what's she's doing, her well can run dry.

Well, we are preparing for our upcoming book tour and Judith is immersed in taking care of details. At the same time, the leaves are changing color here in the northeast and the foliage is a miracle of red, green, yellow, violet, red-orange, purple, and pink.

So Jim decided that it was time for him to invite Judith our for a drive. She hadn't been out all day and the mountain fields are alive with change.

The drive was exhilarating. Judith gasped and sighed at the beauty She cried quietly and said, "Look where we live, Jim," and let the colors feed her to her toes.

Take the time to let life love you. Find what you need to feel that joy and awe. Pay attention to what lights up your partner and then invite them to fill up and be full-filled.

The New Intimacy

Many relationships suffer from being what we call a "relationship-of-one." In this case neither person has a solid sense of self. What they do is jostle back and forth in an overt or covert power struggle, each one trying to be the arbiter of reality for both of them. So in one moment one of them is dominant. Then the power balance shifts toward the other person who is dominant for a while. Neither has a center, only the unconscious sense that somehow a center has to be established so their relationship doesn't careen out of control.

Here's a simple example. We did a workshop in Florida a number of years ago. One woman complained about the way her dates were treating her. She felt taken for granted. Unseen. So Jim did a short exercise with her. He said:

"Imagine that a friend invites you to dinner and asks you what you would like to eat. What would you say?"

She had no problem telling us that she liked rotisserie chicken and gave us the name of her favorite place. In other words, she had a sense of herself and announced her preference without any trouble.

The Jim said, "Okay. Now imagine I'm a man you're interested in and we have a date. I call to ask you what you would like to have for dinner. What do you say?"

Without a moment's hesitation she said., "Oh I don't know. Whatever you prefer."

In that exchange she set up a relationship-of-one. She vanished and left it entirely up to her date. She later confessed that she resented men for being bossy and always felt like they had to be in charge. To get back at them, after she'd been dating someone for awhile she would manipulate for control by playing hard-to-get in order to have a sense of power. In other words, she covertly took back control yet unconsciously made it a relationship-of-one now based on her needs and wants rather than the man's..

Because not many of us have truly been encouraged to have a strong self, a self that we trust, enjoy, and are willing to express, many couples endure the very unsatisfying and deeply confusing relationship-of-one. They know something is wrong but are not sure what and end up blaming each other in a futile and desperate attempt to make things right.

In order for a relationship to succeed there have to be two people willing to show up and be who they are. That begins right from the first moment of the first date and carries through the life of two people being together.

For those of you who are dating, please be aware that the way you handle yourself is your way of telling your date how you want to be treated. That is very critical. If you put on a show, then you are a performance. If you are willing to put yourself out to see if you are liked and if you like who you are with, then you are telling your date who you are. That in itself sets up the precedent that you are someone who has a sense of self and you expect to be acknowledged and respected for it. By doing that you are saying right from the beginning that your want a relationship in which there are two people expressing and co-creating what you will have together.

Ask Judith & Jim

Dear Judith & Jim,

I've been dating a man for 1 1/2 months. We met through friends (they've known each of us for a long time). He wants to spend all his spare time with me. He says he loves me and has asked me to marry him. I'm pretty sure that I love him. He's wonderful. He's always doing something for me but, I'm not used to a man like this.

I'm 52 and love to be on the go all the time (so does he). He includes my kids and grandkids and seems to enjoy my family. I feel like I have known him forever and wouldn't mind sharing my life with him. In the last 1 1/2 years I've lost my best friend (8 years younger), my former boyfriend (4 years younger), my mom, my grandma and now a cousin (2 years younger). I don't want to rush things but, I'm afraid of what might happen next. I feel as if it is meant to be that it will be and if it is not meant to be God will stop it. Thank you for your help.

Confused

Dear Confused,

Your situation sounds lovely. There's no need to rush into marriage. Enjoy yourselves. Get to know each other better. Talk about the future you'd like to build together. Talk about the hard stuff like money and politics and religion. These conversations will either bring you closer or expose trouble spots that need joint resolution or reveal non-negotiable differences. After all it's only been 1 1/2 months.

Also, you've recently lost five people dear to you and in very short time. That may take a while to wash through you. However, the loss you are feeling can be fertile ground for you to share with him. Tell him of your fears of what another loss might mean at this time. If he truly loves you, and we mean you and not some idea of you, well then he's getting someone who is bringing loss to the relationship. Is he open to that? What does he know of loss? More importantly, what is he willing to learn about what loss means to you at this time? As you two explore this very powerful area of your experience, you will be practicing intimacy and setting a basis for further love and trust. Then when you both feel solid -- have a wonderful wedding!

© 2001 The New Intimacy

October 8-14


Loving Endearments

We have friends who live in New York City, a place famous for its driving, no-nonsense, get-out-of-my-way energy. People who love the rough-and-tumble lifestyle feel at home in Manhattan.

Since September 11, the atmosphere in Manhattan has changed. People are offering each other small kindnesses: a smile; saying "Pardon me" to someone; stepping aside at an elevator and letting someone else go ahead.

The first name we had for our company was "Small Kindnesses," those small, seemingly insignificant gestures that create a life of care, consideration, love and intimacy. They are loving endearments, even between strangers, and are free for the giving and the receiving.

Think about the small kindnesses you can give today, tomorrow and everyday. They are the stuff that holds a couple, a family, a neighborhood, a society together. And, be sure to stay aware of the small kindnesses you receive. We all tend to say a quick "Thank you," if that much, and then feel the hunger of not being recognized or appreciated.

Small kindnesses are the moments that make up the background, the context, the basis of a life of real and abiding love and intimacy, what we call the new intimacy.

The New Intimacy

Much has been said about the power of prayer in these past two weeks. And many of you have, no doubt, found comfort and empowerment through your various forms of praying.

Since we will be living through the aftermath of September 11th for some time, we want to suggest that the definition of prayer be enlarged to include the positive energy you give to one another with your kindness, consideration, and understanding. The positive effects of your behavior when you create surprises and offer help to those you love. 

In fact, the way each of us lives our daily life is a form of prayer, a form of practical spirituality. Don't underestimate the influence of your good spirits, your generosity, your ability to reach out and comfort someone else. Brain science and quantum physics teach us that our energy effects much more than the physical space we occupy .We are, each one of us, a force for greater change simply through the daily, walking prayer of our lives!

During the flurry of email that crossed our monitors recently, this prayer stood out. As a way to share our human capacity for good, we send a passage of it on to you.

Passage by Jim Vuocolo

Amid a flood a conflicting emotions, tears, sadness, and grief, and in the numbness of the moment, we pause to pray for peace within our own nation and among the world's nations. Inspire our quest for national unity with an equal measure of respect for human diversity. May those who govern people everywhere pause remember that the primary function of government is to provide for the security and well-being of all people. May the peace we are praying for be marked by a commitment to justice and compassion for all the world's people.

Author of Life, we pray for all of our sisters and brothers whose nations are in the throes of violent change. Empower us to do what we can to translate compassion into action, and show us that, with your assistance and care, we can always do more than we believe possible to overcome our fears and help bring peace to our hearts and to our generation. Amen.

Ask Judith & Jim

Dear Judith & Jim,

I have been dating Diane for 8 months now. We are both divorced and in our forties. We spend almost every weekend and one week night per week together. We get along very well when we are together. My problem is she has not introduced me to any of her friends. I have asked her on a few different occasions to meet her friends. I met some of her family members several months ago, but have yet to meet any of her friends. She says her friends are private and they should not affect our developing intimate relationship. She wants her freedom, but wants an intimate relationship with me as well.

I have been accepting of this until I found out yesterday that one of her friends and business associates is an ex-boyfriend. She had not mentioned this to me previously. Of course, she does not want me to meet this person, saying it would not be comfortable mixing the two relationships. She has told me she likes to keep her work, her family, other friendships, and finances completely separate, or "compartmentalized," from my intimate relationship with her.

This was okay in the beginning of our dating relationship, when we were getting to know each other. I am concerned that this problem will prevent further intimacy, and erode trust.

What can be done to promote intimacy, fulfill both of our needs, closeness with each other, and still respect her privacy needs? 

Singled-Out:

Dear Singled-out

First, we would advise you to pull back on your trust until you understand what's going on here. And then you need to ask Diane to explain in detail what it is she values so much about compartmentalizing. Some people organize their lives that way and it can be a very effective strategy. However, when it comes to an intimate relationship, it sets up an "emotional affair," what we call "emotional cheating," by virtue of there being someone or more than one with whom she has a relationship that is not, or cannot be introduced into the relationship with you. Someone who must be kept separate from her life with you.

How can she expect you to really trust her, especially since one of her friends is an ex. Meeting her ex-boyfriend should be no problem for anyone involved as long as he really is an ex. For her to say that it would be uncomfortable, sets up a situation in which she has to choose between you and him or whomever. The need-to-choose-between is the problem for her and being left out is the problem for you.

You need to tell Diane that you are not just another compartment in her life and as the serious relationship in her life, it's time for more intimacy. She has to understand the risk of what she is doing, which is that she is alienating you from something she says she treasures. Why would she do that? What is she afraid of losing? How was her privacy violated in her life and in her previous relationships?

You ask how you can promote intimacy under the circumstances. Well, if you can live in your compartment and that's okay with you, then focus on the intimacy that is available. Bur you would not have written if you weren't dissatisfied with being put in a compartment. So the point now is real intimacy and what that means in the real situation you're in.

Organize how you feel and think and express it. That's intimacy. Tell her you need to know, to your satisfaction why she needs to keep people and things separated out otherwise your trust will be undermined and so will the relationship. That's intimacy. Don't allow yourself to be confused by a fantasy of what intimacy "should" be. Your circumstances are dictating what ntimacy must be. Real intimacy always brings the truth to the surface. In other words, you have to find out the extent to which Diane can change to allow you in and then decide if the degree to which she insists on compartmentalizing is something you can live with.

© 2001 The New Intimacy

October 1-7


Loving Endearments

The stereotype of men tells us that they are incapable of being nurturing, attentive, and supportive. Well we're always delighted to share stories about men that counter such a crippling image which isn't just crippling for men but for women as well.

This endearment was submitted by our subscriber Sharon. 

I have the most wonderful man in the world. Fred and I have a 4-year-old daughter, Logan, and I have two sons from a previous marriage, Justin, 18, and Perry, almost 16. Fred and I have been together for almost nine years.

When I was 35 years old, I was pregnant with our daughter. Fred stuck by me my entire pregnancy. He was so excited that I was pregnant and he just couldn't believe it. He did not think he could have any children.

All through my moaning and groaning and getting larger during my pregnancy, Fred was there for anything and everything. I had a scheduled C-section for delivery of our daughter, Logan, on St. Patrick's Day in 1997. He never left my side the entire time I was in the hospital. He did everything for me.

No one had ever treated me that well in my whole life. It felt so real and so special for Fred to "be there" for me like that in so many different ways. I will always love him for that. I will love him for all the things he did for me and for all the love he showed me at one of the times I needed him most.

Thank God for Fred.

The New Intimacy

In the old intimacy, very often one spouse unilaterally dictated how certain aspects their life would be and the other spouse would singularly dictate the rest. For example, he might take care of their finances. She would know nothing about their assets/investments, or on the other hand, their indebtedness. She might make all the decisions about how their house was to be decorated and he would then live according to her taste.

In the new intimacy the couple jointly co-creates their life. Both people are involved in major decisions and many of the small ones.

We've been having our upstairs floors worked on. Jim has really wanted the old planks laid bare. Judith was willing to see what it would look like since she'd never lived with hard wood floors.

A surprise came when Jim pulled back the old grey carpet. The floors were painted colonial blue! Then we learned that was popular in the past when people had no money for rugs or carpets.

The magic of differences continues when we are preparing for the day of the sanding. How do we deal with the terrible noise and dust and then the horrible smells of polyurethane? Jim would just play it by ear from the moment the floor guy arrived. Judith wanted to know what to plan for where we'd stay, what work to take with us, where we might go during the days to take care of things we needed to get done and what might be fun, like visiting the old mansions on the banks of the Hudson River down near Poughkeepsie.

On the other hand, Judith would have let the floor guy fill in some small holes (3" by 10") in the flooring and as well as leave it to him to deal with the large cracks between some of the planks. Jim has made sure that those holes were filled and he did it perfectly. He will also make sure that the man has a clear idea of what we want the finished product to look like before we depart. And he made sure that everything was protected with sheets of thick plastic taped around all of the doors to the rooms where work wouldn't be done.

We went together to find a local B & B that would be inexpensive and yet charming. Then we talked through the general plans and then used our natural skills and inclinations to work as a team to get ready for the floor event.. Judith organized the work to take with us and Jim prepared the floors. No one dictating. No one left in the dark about what would happen. No need to argue. No need to get in each other's way. Yet each of us was contributing and helping to make the best of the disruptive situation.

That's an example of the practical, everyday romance in the magic of differences that is at the core of the new intimacy.

Ask Judith & Jim

Dear Judith & Jim,

I am 20 years old and I believe I have found the one I want to spend my life with. He is 22 and the type of person who looks at the big picture. I take things moment by moment. We are like silver and gold, very opposite. I am extremely sensitive and like to talk about things and he keeps everything inside unless I push him. I don't want to do that but I want him to open up to me. He says he loves me too and doesn't ever want to let me go. The problem is he attends one of the best art schools in the country down in Florida and I am in school up here in New Hampshire. The relationship becomes so stressful at times because of the distance. We try to make time for each other when there isn't any. But I have never been so sure of anything in my life, he is the one for me. Right now we are "taking a break" from the stress and trying to start over. He wants to get back together when he comes home this summer. I was wondering if you could give me some advice on what I should do. When we are together it is amazing, but when we are apart we argue. I would move to Florida but he said he would never ask me to do that. We have been through so much together already. He supports me in everything. I was diagnosed with depression/panic disorder and have been suicidal in the past. But he has stuck with me anyway and loves me for who I am. I believe this relationship is worth fighting for but I am lost on how to do it.

Sincerely,

Lost in NH when my heart is in FL

Dear Lost,

First of all you are not arguing because you are apart. That you are apart geographically is merely a fact of life. So the first question is, what are you really arguing about that gets triggered by being apart? Second, if you are both so certain about one another, why are you broken up?

Do you argue from feeling insecure? Are you suspicious of one another going out with other people? Do you demand that contact be made by phone and/or email when neither of you really has the time? What is it that distracts you from the reality of your two different school situations, such that you argue instead of making the most of your time apart?

Now, the fact is you cannot get back together and "start over". You must live your relationship in current time and deal with your history of arguing.

Given the inclusion of your diagnosis of depression/panic disorder and feeling suicidal, we want to stress the need for you to look to your family of origin for the root causes of these feelings. How weren't you made to feel safe as a child? How were you expected to meet your parents' needs, rather than your own? At least from your side of the arguing, we're betting this is where you will find the root source for your discomfort and upset.

And if you are not currently in therapy, we strongly suggest you see a very experienced therapist who specializes in helping people emotionally leave their home of origin. By that we mean that you need to develop a mature, independent sense of your identity, instead of carrying around your childhood programming as if it is the world you live in now.

Please let us know your response to our answer.

Judith & Jim

© 2001 The New Intimacy

September 24-30


Loving Endearments

This endearment was submitted by our subscriber Jodi.

I met WJ through the Internet. We exchanged e-mails every day and got along great. We met in person 3 months later and spent 8 hours together. We didn't want the day to end! We kept seeing each other and one month later, I was in the hospital for abdominal surgery. I was there for 16 days and that's when I found out how special WJ really was. He came to visit one day and brought his laptop. Then he hooked it up to the phone line so I could check my e-mail! He knew that I check it every day and I wouldn't be able to for a long time...unless he helped. He also stayed past midnight several times because he knew I'm a nightowl and there were no visiting hours. Here's the topper, there I was at my most unattractive and he says, "Sure, you have a nose tube and your hair is all greasy, but you're still pretty." Romantic, huh?

It's almost 2 years later, I'm healthy, and we're still together. 

The New Intimacy

Without communication there can be no intimacy. For communication to be meaningful you and your partner have to make your thoughts and feelings available to one another. And then, you must be willing to hear each other in terms of the other's experience. By that we mean each of you must grant the other the validity of their experience. That doesn't mean you have to agree or even like what your partner is saying, feeling, doing. But to truly communicate, to permit intimacy to flourish, you must let your partner be who your partner is and visa versa.

Here's an example from our lives. 

We've been in the middle of a heat wave. The locals tell us they haven't seen such heat over so long a span of days for years. Judith finds this kind of humid heat intolerable. We actually think she may be allergic to it. So we bought two window air-conditioners. One for Jim's office and one for Judith's. Jim decided he'd install Judith's as soon as we brought them home.

Judith's initial response was to ask him if he shouldn't hire someone to do it. Jim refused and eventually got it to work. Judith was deeply impressed. Now here's the point.

Judith had seen her father, time and again, try and fail to do mechanical thugs around the house. She watched her mother's resignation when he decided to yet again do something and she would scorn him behind his back.

After Jim secured the A/C and had it running, Judith realized how she had unconsciously assumed Jim would fail. Her suggestion to hire a handyman was not out of affection but out of an unconscious presumption of Jim's incompetence. That's why she was so impressed when he succeeded and why she felt chagrined in realizing what she had been feeling. Judith knew she had to confess her fears and distrust to Jim.

Under the circumstances her feelings were understandable and the intimacy between us deepened. That could not have happened without Judith's willingness to reveal her true feelings and Jim's willingness to hear her without taking it personally. That doesn't always happen but, when it does, it allows for the richest communication and the sweetest emotional intimacy possible.

In this sense it really is true that the truth will set you free.

Trust your truth. Listen to your partner's truth. Only then can you build trust in your relationship so that you can open more and more to what you have and receive more and more from it.

Ask Judith & Jim

Dear Judith & Jim,

I have an interesting question for you that has been on my mind for a while now. My husband and I have been married for four years and are not having any problems. Recently some friends of ours, who are also married, told us that they are swingers. Meaning that they sleep with other couples. I have to admit that it does sound interesting but my husband and I are reluctant for obvious reasons. We want a stranger's opinion on this subject and would like to hear from you. Thank you,

Curious in Arkansas

Dear Curious,

If, as you say, "it does sound interesting," then we are curious as to what you mean by the "obvious reasons." If by that you mean being awkward and having sex with someone other than your spouse, then what, we ask, sounds interesting? If you do this the awkwardness will fade in time like everything and anything that is new until it is not. But that doesn't seem to be the point.

Rather than ask us, you should trust your reluctance. Look into it. What is your reluctance telling you you would have to lose if you went ahead?

Could it be that the "obvious reasons" are that you might lose each other? Or are you afraid you might enjoy it, which is an entirely different issue and will send you into a vast unknown?

One of Jim's philosophy teachers once said, "Whenever anyone says something like 'It's obvious that. . . .' or 'It should be clear that. beware. That is where they are hiding the fact that they aren't sure of what they are saying."

Look into your obvious reasons and listen to your reluctance. Yes there are those who swing. And among that group there are marriages that have lasted for years. But this has nothing to do with your reluctance.

Something inside of each of you is reluctant, call it your soul if that word works for you, is trying to get your attention. Listen. There is much at stake here.

© 2001 The New Intimacy

September 17-23


Loving Endearments

This endearment was submitted by our subscriber Heather.

How wonderful to know others have discovered the magic that comes from just writing a little note. We were married just two months after I turned 18, and next February will be our 7th anniversary. Our first married Valentine's day, we'd just moved and the fees & deposits had left us broke, but I was still determined to have a romantic surprise waiting for him when he got home. I dug up some plastic mini-Easter eggs from the previous year, and in every one I put a little note about why I was in love with him; a memory of a moment we'd shared, a thank you for something special he did for me, a wish for our future, and all the things I found irresistible about him. I hid them all over the house, and never told him to look, but sure enough he found several that first night, and since I hide eggs pretty well, he found many more over the next few weeks. Six years later, I still do this for him. I tape notes all over the house, write love letters for him to read after a long day at work, and make signs for birthdays and anniversaries and tape them to the front of the house so he (and everyone else) can read "I love you sweetie!" when driving up the street. We always keep a dry-erase marker in the bathroom so we can write each other messages on the mirror. Sometimes I worry about how we'd manage to keep romance alive after several years of marriage, but when I see the growing stack of my notes and letters in his sock drawer, I know I have nothing to worry about. Happily married.

Heather

If you have an endearment you would like to share send it to us at jksjes@hotmail.com.

The New Intimacy

In the old intimacy, romantic relationships were choreographed by sex role expectations. Since both men and women had to conform themselves to fit into the roles they were taught to play, they often experienced a kind of emptiness instead of the passionate connection they hoped would be theirs.

In the new intimacy, sex role stereotypes are obsolete. Romantic relationships are now choreographed and co-created by the needs and wants and sincere feelings of the two individuals involved.

In the drama of yesteryear cliched emotions very often passed for real, heartfelt love. Now the true romance of intimate one-of-a-kind love is experienced in all of the large and small in-the-moment body-based feelings as well as in the spiritually meaningful commitment to learn and grow together. Growth fueled by love moves both people toward increased freedom to reveal themselves whole-heartedly -- which is a form of holiness.

In the fourteen years we've been together, we've seen each other go through some very difficult emotional states, some lasting several days, some even weeks. In the old intimacy, most couples would have just tolerated one another during these kinds of experiences -- if they had felt free to show what they were really feeling at all. Instead, we feel enriched by the journey of accompanying one another into the darkness that is always the birth place of new awareness, new freedom to be who we really are.

Rather than act out a stereotype, which will make you a stereotype, pay attention to what you feel that is real. Ask yourself why you believe you cannot show feelings that are true to you and express your true thoughts. What do you believe would happen? And what value is there in hiding behind a performance, which is what you do when you choose to act out a stereotype. You hide. You prevent who you are from being loved which will eventually cause you to feel unloved and, of course, you will blame your spouse.

If love is what you want, then allow yourself to be loved for who you are. After all, who else can you be loved for. A performance? No way. 

Please have the courage to give your mate the opportunity to love more and more of you.

Ask Judith & Jim

Dear Judith & Jim,

My husband cheated on me while I was pregnant with our daughter. I love him dearly. It's just that all I seem to think about is that I don't know what to do. How will I ever be able to trust him again. I feel as though I should cheat on him so he can feel the hurt I feel. I just don't know what to do. I really want our marriage to work our. What do I do?

TX

Dear TX,

Though he cheated while you were pregnant, and that is reprehensible, have you talked with him about it? What was he doing? Does he have so little awareness of the consequences of his actions? What did he want? What was he trying to accomplish? If it was sex, then why did he have to go to someone else? Was he not satisfied with the lovemaking between you? If not, why not, and what can the two of you do about it? If he was satisfied, then what other motivation did he have? Power? Trying to get away with something?

You say you want your marriage to work. Well, then what you must do is find out why he did what he did? That's for starters. Then you must determine if he wants the marriage the way you do. If you don't do this, then you will never be on secure ground. You must know where he stands.

You must also explore your own feelings and desires. Depending upon what he says, do you still want the marriage?

In any case, the marriage you had is over. What was is no longer. If you stay together, you must co-create a new marriage based upon new understandings and new commitments. In a sense, you must remarry.

But do not, do not have an affair in spite. You will feel terrible afterwards and you will have gained nothing. An eye for an eye leaves both people half blind. And teaches your child that cheating and revenge are what to expect in their marriage.

Can you ever trust him again? He will have to earn it.

At the same time, you must deal with your hurt by letting him know how deeply you were wounded and what the effects of his thoughtlessness were.

This need not break you two apart,. It can be a deep wake-up call to get serious about the connection you have. And make sure you discover together what the dis-connect was that led the way to his cheating.

Finally, it would probably be best if you two saw a counselor, someone who can help each of you sort out your thoughts and feelings and help you both come to terms with what all happened and what needs to happen for you both to commit to a trustworthy love now.

© 2001 The New Intimacy

September 10-16


Loving Endearments

We are in the process of having one of our rooms re-done. We're removing the carpets and exposing the old wide-beam wood plank floors. We will have them stripped and sanded and brought back to their natural color and grain. In an old house like ours, that means an extra helping of dust.

Jim's brain works in a way that doesn't think of those kinds of details, you know, dust and the like. He's thinking about how to paint and wallpaper that room before the floor sander arrives.

Well we had to move some of our clothing, mostly Jim's -- out of that room and some of it is stuffed into a corner of our bedroom which is right across the hall.

Without saying anything, Judith covered those clothes with an old bed sheet to keep them protected from the dust that will get kicked up.

As soon as Jim saw that, he knew exactly what she had done and why and was very grateful. In part for having his clothes protected, but more so for the absence of any criticism from Judith for not having thought of it himself. She knows him, accepts him (not all of the time), and has no need to make a big deal of his shortfalls (most of the time).

Judith had no need to call attention to herself and that made her endearment even more endearing.

The New Intimacy

Every now and then an angel appears in our lives and blesses us with his or her presence and inspiration. We met just such an angel last weekend.

We were in Philadelphia giving a keynote presentation and a workshop and we met Ed Thornton. He signs his email E.T. which is proof that he's an angel.

He told us about his marriage to Linda. Here's their story.

She knew she had cancer and so did he and that she was terminal. One afternoon she called him and said "we have to talk." Ed told us he cringed when he heard those ominous words. That evening, at dinner, Linda told him that the one thing she wanted to accomplish before she left this earth was to be married to Ed. He said, "Are you proposing?" She thought for a second and said, "I guess I am." He responded with, "Well, in that case, I accept."

They were married for two and one half years and during the ceremony she had to wear a wig because of the effects of chemotherapy.

They had a Quaker wedding. No minister. No Priest. Quakers believe that the Divine Spirit is present in all of us and, in that sense, we are all ministers. So Linda and Ed married each other by saying "We unite ourselves in marriage." Those who were present signed a marriage certificate as witnesses.

They wrote their own vows and Ed gave us permission to share them with you. Here is some of what they said.

Ed: Linda, I want to love you without possessing, appreciate you without qualifying, unite with you without intruding in your space, ask of you without demanding or expecting . . . I promise to be gentle with myself so I can be gentle with you. . . With my love and affection I want to truly enrich your life. I offer patience, persistence and perseverence.

Linda: I intend to be gentle with you Ed, to be a loyal friend, lover and confidante. To not withhold things from you, but to share myself honestly, openly and from my heart. I commit to take care of myself to have the energy to be there for you . . . I promise to acknowledge my mistakes . . . be demonstrative in my love and affection and bring humor, passion and integrity to our marriage.

They said: Together we pledge to be faithful and to make our marriage the top priority of all our activities . . We promise to look for the good in each other . . .to try to resolve conflicts quickly . . .our motto is forgive and forget . . . Within our marriage we promise to take responsibility for fully loving and nurturing ourselves and each other.

And with that, they were man and wife. 

Two and one-half years later, Linda died in Ed's arms.

Ed was glowing as he told us the story. So happy to have known, loved and lived with Linda for the time that they had.

Ask Judith & Jim

Dear Judith & Jim,

I am 20, male and I have never had sex. My parents have very strong beliefs that sex should be kept for marriage. However, ever since I went to college I have questioned the wisdom of that many times, though I never crossed the line. I also feel that since it would be wrong for me to have sex with somebody why should I even start dating anybody. I know a lot of people want sex after a while and my standard would be disappointing to them. What can you say from your experience in counseling about this subject? I have heard so many explanations for both choices that it only makes things more confusing.

Dear Confused,

In our culture, sex is overly burdened with expectations and fantasies as well as rules and regulations. One side preaches celibacy. The other wants no judgment, no interference, as though engaging in sex has no consequences. And we're sure you've heard those arguments and some in between.

You say you have questioned your parents' beliefs about sex and marriage, so something in you is stirring to at least explore alternatives, without, as you indicate, actually making love with anyone.

But you must kook at what you wrote. You believe that having sex would be wrong. Do you? Really? Or are you simply struggling with peer pressure? Or perhaps what you think is peer pressure? Or perhaps only being an obedient son?

What you need is a way to determine what is most important to you. You need to place your question in a context that will compel you to face what you hold most dear. Here are a few suggestions.

What would you advise your own son if he was faced with your dilemma?

Or, what if your choice, to wait or not, was to be used as the moral and ethical standard for all people your age. What would you choose with that responsibility as a determining guide?

Or imagine you are at the end of your life looking back. What would you like to see? That you waited? Or that you decided not to wait?

Your struggle is very fundamental because, no matter how you rationalize your final decision, to do or not to do, there are ultimately only two choices. You can't finesse this one with brilliant arguments or clever spin. This is an either/or choice which always puts us in a position to be initiated through the struggle to make our decision and then launches us into a particular way of being in the world.

Sören Kierkegaard, a European existential philosopher wrote about the process of making life altering decisions. He said that we build a mountain of fact, stand in top of it and then leap to faith. He didn't mean religion. He meant that whatever our choice, we cannot predict the consequences. There will be some that will be negative. So we choose and live what comes.

You must go into your heart and let it lead. And remember, your heart cannot provide everything. But if you lead with your heart you will have the strength to stand up under whatever comes to you. And, in the end, that is the prize of the struggle.

© 2001 The New Intimacy

September 3-9


Loving Endearments

When Judith was a kid her family spent many a summer vacation on an old farm with relatives in Redding, CA. Besides an indoor bathroom, this farm still had a two-hole outhouse which everyone used in good weather -- not necessarily with someone else -- but because it had no door and overlooked a beautiful valley. (People yelled ahead to check out occupancy.)

Ever since we moved to our 200 year old farmhouse sixteen months ago, Judith has wanted an outhouse by our pond. You can't any longer use them, but Judith has wanted one for the nostalgia and how fun they look.

Friends of ours, Bob and Magdalena, provided the unusual blessing of giving us an old outhouse that has been on their property since forever and they didn't want it. That terrific surprise happened a couple of months ago -- but it still had to be moved -- and we had to prepare the space for it -- where -- as a future reading and meditation cubby -- with the door open you can look out on the pond and on to a wonderful stream that separates our land from the neighbors.

A man down the road agreed to move it in his truck but we didn't exactly know when this would be.

This morning Jim came into Judith's office and told her she needed to come outside with him. Why? He wouldn't say. When we were about to make the turn out of our garage (which used to be the barn) Jim instructed Judith to close her eyes and then guided her across the back yard.. Then Jim stopped her, turned her in a specific direction and said -- "Ok, open your eyes!"

Well, Judith let out a huge shriek -- there sat her own, real outhouse right where she wanted it!!! Timmy and Kelly, our neighbors, and their two children, Branden and Morgan, had surprise delivered it last night when we were in town -- and Jim had just noticed it out a window before he called Judith outside!

Sure he could have just told Judith to look out the window -- but why miss the romance of creating a delightful surprise!!

How can you surprise the one you love this weekend?

The New Intimacy

Judith's delight with the new/old outhouse is unbounded. She's like a child who's received something she'd been waiting for for a long time. But that's what makes her such a pleasure to be with -- her capacity for genuine delight which stems form her alive and lively curiosity.

Curiosity! It's one of the most powerful experiences we have as human beings. Think about it. When we are genuinely curious, we are open to possibilities. The world becomes a menu we can explore and choose from. And through our curiosity we get to extend beyond ourselves where the new awaits.

One of the most lethal dangers for any relationship is when we take things for granted. We assume. That means that we believe we know beforehand what's going to happen, how our partner is going to respond, and so we don;'t have to pay attention. We don't have to be curious.

Have you ever heard somebody say something like, "Well, you know how she is." or "That's just him. He's always that way." They assume they know all there is to know about the other person.

So they stop looking. They stop listening. They stop hearing. In short, the connection disappears and they just plain stop. Then their relationship dies and they blame each other.

In all fairness, it's so easy to take ourselves and one another for granted. We do get into habitual behaviors and we are to some degree predictable. If we weren't, relationships might be way too much work if not impossible. But love and intimacy are not free. There is a cost. Your attention and care.

You wouldn't buy potted plants and never water them. You wouldn't buy a car and never tune it. Life requires our participation. We have to care if we want things to thrive.

That's where curiosity comes in. We make the choice to pay attention. We let those we love know that we want to know them. We let them know we want them to know us. We open ourselves and we ask them to open to us. But if they aren't paying attention, why bother? If we aren't willing to extend an interest, why should they bother?

What do you want to know about your lover, partner, spouse? Not just as an exercise, but really want to know. And what would you like your lover, partner, spouse to know about you that he or she doesn't yet?

Even thinking about these questions stimulates curiosity, about your self and your partner. And, when you bring your interest to the one you love, what a compliment that is. what a recognition of the other person as someone you value and want to be more intimate with.

Judith's capacity for opening to the new, for being genuinely curious, helps keep what we have alive and unpredictable. When that couples with Jim's particular ways of being curious, well, we can't ever take each other for granted.

Finally, curiosity is one of the finest aphrodisiacs you can find and it's available to you at any time!

Ask Judith & Jim

Dear Judith & Jim,

I have recently begun a relationship with a man who lives 600 miles away from me. We met on a Christian dating site on the Internet. I don't ordinarily write people who live so far away, as a long-distance romance was the last thing I was looking for, but his note to me was so wonderful that I couldn't resist looking up his profile and responding in kind to his thoughtful letter.

I flew to his city to meet him in person, after only 2 short weeks of continual emails and endless phone calls, and we fell for each other in a big way. Everything about each of us just seemed to "fit" with the other perfectly. Our personalities, our romantic natures, our thoughtfulness for each other, our senses of humor, even our heights (he's 6'4", I'm 5'11"). But 2 days later I found myself on a plane on my way home...alone.

He and I had a wonderful talk the following day about where we each stood in our relationship and we agreed that we could see other people while we were apart, but that we would each keep the other one's best interests at heart when doing so. That way, the pain of being alone wouldn't be as apparent.

My question to you is, how can a couple keep a relationship alive across so many miles? If you're only physically seeing each other once a month or so, how do you truly get to know each other well enough to determine whether or not to continue on to the next level?

I'm much better in person than I am on the phone (as I am a very affectionate and physical person), so it's hard for me to be as happy having a relationship with a telephone and a keyboard as I would be having my honey here to hold as we talked.

Any advice from you would be very much appreciated. Thank you so much!

Dear love-at-a-distance,

First of all, congratulations that this relationship is still alive and worthwhile. When we began reading your letter we fully expected you to say it fell apart and you don't know why. But that's not the case.

The danger with long-distance relationships that work is the intensity that builds up between meetings. So much has to happen in a short time that it's often too much of a demand on what you have. So, first, be aware of and talk about not needing to pack one month into two days. That won't work because it cannot happen. If you don't keep that in mind, then your brief visits can become growingly disappointing and place an unnecessary burden on the difficulty you have to begin with.

Also, do not withhold your "negative" feelings, perhaps anger at being apart; loneliness and longing; frustration with how things are. You are in a trying situation and you cannot pretty it up by pretending never to feel bad about it. The more you release to one another the more openness there will be and the more freedom and ease you can create for the time you are together.

Of course, the loving feelings you have must be expressed as well, but they won't get in the way.

Yes, being close and physical in important. However, you've accepted this relationship with its physical limitations. Ask yourself why? What's the benefit now to you and him? What do God, the Universe, or your own unconscious minds have in store for you that is best expressed by a relationship over a distance? In other words, don't step away from the reality you're faced with, embrace it, delve into it, look for the promise and potential it contains. In other words, trust that what is happening is right. All you need do is discover the rightness. As you do, the romance between you should grow from soil that is rich and fruitful. Then the distance will become a gift and your love will become more and more a treasure.

© 2001 The New Intimacy

August 27-September 2


Loving Endearments

First of all, thanks for all the work you do to keep the new intimacy newsletter going. I know it takes a great deal of time and energy, even if it is extremely rewarding as well. 

My husband and I are both in our early 40's, we've been married for a whole 6 months...LOL!!! But seriously, we both feel so very blessed that we have found one another at this late date in our lives.

After the commercialism and expense of the Christmas season and the expense of our wedding...and my husband's birthday being on the same day as our wedding ...and several birthdays of family and friends in January we decided that we would not spend more than $10.00 on one another for Valentines....but we would use our creativity to come up with something special for one another.

For my husband, I cut up strips of paper (like those in fortune cookies). On each strip I wrote what I love, admire, respect, and treasure in him, or small love quotes, or a free coupon for a massage, car cleaning, 20 minutes of snuggling, etc. 

I rolled them into tiny scrolls and put them in a heart shaped tin container. I also made a Valentines card explaining that inside the container were daily vitamins for the heart. My husband loves it. Every morning he opens his heart-vitamin for the day and shares it with me. Then he puts it in his shirt pocket and carries it with him throughout the day. At the end of the day he tapes it into a book where he's collecting them.

It's been such a hit that although initially I'd only made about 60 days worth I've continued to make them each month. After 4 months I'm discovering that it is not just something I give him, but also something I find great joy in myself.

For me, my husband bought a journal. Each day he writes a love quote at the top of one of the pages. Underneath he writes his thoughts and feelings about the quote, how it applies, or doesn't apply, to us. At the very end of the page he writes a short one or two sentences about what we did on that day that he enjoyed.

I LOVE THIS!!!! Some of the quotes are funny, deep, thought provoking, serious, and romantic. I find such a thrill reading them and find that I look forward to it all day. Sometimes I go back to past days and read what was written there and remember what we were doing on that day. IT IS TRULY A HEART BOOST. And, no matter how busy our lives get, my husband takes the time to write that day, demonstrating a great deal of commitment.

Thank you for allowing me to share our story, and again for all the great work you guys do to keep The New Intimacy going. It has integrity and a great message.....(kind of rare these days).

Blessings,

Lisa, a subscriber

The New Intimacy

We've had a number of requests to repeat a list of what intimacy is and is not that we published before. Since we're in the middle of a crunch to get several projects completed, we're taking this opportunity to repeat the column.

Here it is.

Many people imagine intimacy to mean sex. In fact, that is what most people mean when they use the word.

Some people understand intimacy to be primarily about talking and sharing.

Others are afraid of the whole idea, concerned they will lose themselves if they open up and allow themselves to be touched.

And there are those who have no response. 

For us the experience of intimacy is very basic and very deep within human consciousness. So here are some things intimacy is and is not for you to ponder.

  • Intimacy is generous.
  • Intimacy is consistent.
  • Intimacy can be trusted.
  • Intimacy is born of testing.
  • Intimacy requires discernment.
  • Intimacy is relaxed and secure.
  • Intimacy is a creative experience.
  • Intimacy is the opposite of isolation.
  • Intimacy fosters growth and new life.
  • Intimacy is interdependent it takes two.
  • Intimacy does not have to do with control.
  • Intimacy requires curiosity about the other.
  • Intimacy does not condemn, reject, or abandon.
  • Intimacy is spontaneous and will be unpredictable.
  • Intimacy is not focused on changing the other person.
  • Intimacy can only occur with a respect for differences.

Finally, to be intimate is to allow yourself to be seen and willing to see what the other person is showing you. That takes strength of commitment, security in yourself, an ability to respond sensitively and creatively, and a willingness to enter into the unknown that exists between you.

This is a list to inspire your thinking. 

Ask Judith & Jim

Dear Judith & Jim,

My wife and I have been married for 5 years. We have moved twice, built a practice, a home, she had 3 job changes, and we had two children all in this time. We have changed some from when we first started dating. She feels empty and worries about having a hallow marriage. She is contemplating divorce. These feelings have developed because we are different and I do not communicate to the level she needs. I want to learn how and develop a great relationship built on love, friendship, and intimacy. I would like to get that help. I want my wife, children, and a marriage. Thank you for your direction.

Dear Wanting, 

We first want to acknowledge how demanding your life has been for the both of you. Two moves, a practice, home, jobs and kids all in five years is a stress that many relationships could not withstand. So, that the two of you are still together is to be applauded..

Now, with regard to your wife's concern about a "hollow marriage," no doubt the demands have taken your focus off of each other, and no doubt that was a disappointment to her. No doubt the reality of what she chose to participate in clashed pretty severely with her fantasy of what a marriage was supposed to be.

One of the greatest dangers for people entering into marriage, even for those who've been divorced and are re-marrying, is the clash between what they imagine and expect a marriage is "supposed to be" and the reality of marriage as it turns out to be. Marriages are as unique as people and every marriage is a unique co-creation of both people. Neither party is innocent in the outcome. So the "hollowness" of the marriage has been made, in half, by your wife.

You say you do not communicate to the level she needs. Why not? If you hold that position, then it's just an excuse for not changing. If you want the marriage, you will have to change the way you communicate so that she feels seen and heard.

The question is, what does "to the level she needs" mean? If you are closed and not forthcoming, you'll need to learn to open up and make yourself emotionally available. That's learnable. And, by the way, when you do, she will have to open up reciprocally or it will not work.

However, if what's going on is that the level she needs is being dictated by a fantasy of what "should" be, then no level of communication will work unless you become her. Fantasies are perfect because we create them that way. They are also solitary creations in which no one interferes with what we want. Real life is an amalgam of both people involved, and now that includes the kids, the house, and everything else that impacts your life togther.

So are her demands reasonable? Or is she hiding from real intimacy with you by blaming you for her emptiness, rather than looking at her inability to receive what you give her?

Bottom line, she is co-responsible for the "hollow marriage." If she doesn't recognize that, she will leave you, marry again and do the same thing with someone else and with different details. You two should see someone who can help you unravel what's happened.

© 2001 The New Intimacy

August 20-26


Loving Endearments

After reading Judith and Jim's loving endearments to one another about the watermelon, I wanted to share an endearment about something my boyfriend recently did for me Dan is 40 and divorced, I am 37 and twice divorced). Wed live in Colorado.

Dan: Becky spoke of the new Krispy Kreme donut shop that recently opened up in our town. We haven't had a moment to get over there and the lines have been to crazy to wait no matter the hour of the day. 

Becky: Dan is from Minnesota, to try a warm Krispy Kreme. 

Dan: I went on business to Omaha, Nebraska and there I drove Krispy Kreme donut shop. I simply had to stop and get some donuts for myself to try these crazy donuts that everyone in Denver was going nuts about. As was the rumor, they were delicious. I called Becky from Omaha and told her I had finally tasted a Krispy Kreme and how good these donuts tasted. Becky was disappointed, she wasn't with me for my 'first' Krispy Kreme experience at age 40. On my way back to Denver I decided to stop and pick up some Krispy Kreams to take back to Becky.

Becky: Dan called me from his home and told me he brought me back Krispy Kreams! I couldn't believe it! Dan transported two donuts in his briefcase from Omaha and protected those donuts with his life to bring them all the way back to Denver and to me. I went over to his place that night and there they were, two Krispy Kream donuts, smashed, but nevertheless, they were the best two donuts I had ever put in my mouth. He had remembered such a small detail and wanted to share the experience with me. I swear, if the plane had landed on a deserted island with no food in sight, he would not have eaten those donuts...

I have to tell you, Dan buys me flowers and treats me like a princess but nothing could ever have meant more to me than the thought of his bringing me those Krispy Kreme donuts from Omaha. Hands down, that is the most thoughtful thing anyone has ever done for me. 

The New Intimacy

Many of you tell us how you enjoy hearing about our life here in the country. So we'll tell you about Jim's new weed-wacker. Now, how does that relate to The New Intimacy? Well, it might not, if Judith hadn't needed to talk to herself about some of her knee-jerk responses. 

But some background first. When we moved here last year, to a 200 year-old farm house on 2 acres with a pond, the property hadn't been kept up at all. The house was in pretty good shape but the growth on the land, except for a small yard, was wild and way out of control.

So last year we hired people to trim trees and take out dead ones and brush-hog the back of the property -- cutting down all the weeds and heavier overgrowth.

This year Jim bought a weed-wacker and he is in country heaven as he goes out most every day to do battle with the weeds that want to re-take the place. Meanwhile, Judith noticed thoughts like, "He's just like a boy with a toy," "He ought to be doing more of the serious work we need to get done."

Whoa!!!!! Unconscious old thoughts about men's work, learned at mom's knee, were popping up to interfere with all the fun Jim was having if Judith didn't catch herself and rethink the situation.

So first she shared her inner sabateur with Jim so that we both could keep an eye on her. Then she determined to notice not only Jim's wonderful fun, but to focus on the increased beauty on the property when the weeds are kept under control. That was all the ammunition she needed to create new intimacy with Jim, the "Super-Weed-Wacker," and to get a kick out of his excitement, rather than try to kill it.

And to support him further she's going to buy him some goggles this weekend to protect his eyes from the stones that pop up when the wacker sends them flying. 

Without loving awareness, the weed-wacker could have been the catalyst for some stupid fights. But instead, it's a fun new member of the family and a source of joy for both of us.

Ask Judith & Jim

Dear Judith & Jim,

Thank you for your interesting columns. I'm learning from them.

Here's.my question:.How do I keep the romance in this relationship really alive and burning. My boyfriend lives back home in Africa and I study in England, and will be for a couple of years. We do love each other very much, and do hope for marriage soon when the Lord gives a GO!

It's challenging sustaining our love over the miles, but we are trying thru emails, and occasional phone calls, not to mention the costs involved.

I would like my relationship to be alive and full of vigor. I kindly request suggestions. 

Also I happen to be pursuing my medical career, hoping to complete in 2 years, and hopefully be married. My boyfriend is not in the medical profession, but we've been alerted how busy it can all be. I'm kind of finding it hard picturing myself with a family, married and my career, I don't want to scare him off with this busy career. I do happen to be the family type and would like to spend time with my family when married. Any suggestions.

Thank you.

Parted by Miles

Dear Parted by Miles,

First of all, you can't scare him off with a busy schedule if what you have is real love. Nor can the miles between you dampen the spirit in your hearts if you are both determined to be together when you finish school. And you are already staying in touch through email and phone calls.

So we think there must be more to your request for help than you have shared with us.

Perhaps it is your discomfort about being the one who is out of your country and not your man. Or perhaps it's your fear that you are being more ambitious than your boyfriend. We can only guess.

The fact is that many, many women have demanding careers and families. Is it easy? No. Is it worth it? Many would tell you Yes! In fact, in one-third of married couples in the U.S. the woman earns more than the man. And certainly many of these couples are having children. So there's no reason you can't do it as well. Unless there's more to your concerns than you've told us.

Please let us know.

© 2001 The New Intimacy

August 13-19


Loving Endearments

Even the simplest moment is an opportunity for real romance, the kind of romance that's available everyday.

JUDITH: This afternoon I went to the dentist and then to the market. I saw seedless watermelons on sale and bought two. I know Jim loves seedless watermelon and I was very pleased to be bringing them home for him and us.

JIM: When Judith arrived she said "I have a treat. They're in the car." I went to the cars and saw that they were huge. As I brought them in Judith told me they were on sale. Okay, so where's the romance? 

JUDITH: I was delighted to see Jim's delight with the seedless treasures. He smiled and was truly appreciative.  

JIM: And I know Judith loves a bargain. I imagined her delight in finding such large watermelons at so good a price. We stood together in the kitchen sweetly appreciating each other for what pleased and pleasured us.  That's real romance. Genuinely felt love and affection in the midst of a very daily event. You don't have to look for fireworks to feel romance. It's all around you everyday, in the small delights that convey your ongoing love for your partner and for your relationship. 

The New Intimacy

We want to continue with the idea of intimacy contained in a simple everyday event.

For example, the simple handshake. That common gesture, recognized throughout the world, happens countless times a day. It is so common that we take it for granted. But a moment's thought reveals that, when a handshake is sincere, it is both complex and complete while being exquisitely simple.

First, it is an act of giving. You extend your hand to another as a means of greeting. You reach out as an expression of strength or tenderness, as a way of making yourself available.

At the same time, you accept the other person's hand as a way of welcoming, of recognizing, of affirming.

In one and the same moment, you give yourself and accept the other, and you do it without thinking. Both of you, giving and receiving, open and available, connected and intimate.

Why do we write about this? To heighten your awareness, and ours, to the many times and many ways we make contact with one another without truly appreciating what is going on. We miss the subtle which is before our very eyes. And then we are trapped into looking for that which is emotionally intense as the only feeling-filled experience that catches our attention.

Have you been in a movie theater recently and felt bombarded by the sound level? That's an example of the need to ratchet up the intensity as a way of feeling alive.

How many people break off their relationships because "the thrill is gone?" They yearn for the beginning-time when it was impossible to miss the newness.

You've heard the complaint that the older we get the less wonder there is in life. That's followed by the wish to be like a child, with the hope of being dazzled again with awe.

We confuse that childlike wonder with the need to have emotionally large experiences. In other words, if we don't get knocked out of our socks, like a child seeing something for the very first time, whatever we're experiencing is too familiar to be interesting. Then we're forced to emotionally rev up our experiences to make them meaningful. Yet the awesomeness is everywhere around us, when we learn to look to the subtle, the simple and the daily.

To keep romance alive, begin looking to the ordinary, to that which is around you every day. Then ask yourself "What's going on here that I haven't paid attention to?" At first you probably won't see much difference. But that's just a matter of habit. As you continue to open to what is not readily apparent you will begin to see more and more and more. Then the wonder returns. Not as childlike wonder, but as an adult mature wonder.

When you make a sincere commitment to open your eyes, mind and heart, then even a simple handshake will bring you joy and the awareness that your life is filled with pleasure and meaning, even in the hard times.

Ask Judith & Jim

Dear Judith & Jim,

My life basically consists of taking care of my children (19 months and 5 months old ), my grandfather ( almost 80 years old ), my husband and of course myself. I wake up every morning, get the kids ready to go to the sitters and get myself ready and out the door by 7:20 a.m. On the days my husband opens at his work I have to help him get ready too. I work from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mon-Fri. After work I go pick up the kids from the sitters and if my husband opens I go pick him up then go home. When I get home I immediately make dinner, get the kids cleaned up and ready for bed. I then wash the dishes and put them away and get myself ready for bed. I have to clean on the weekends.

My grandfather is almost blind and can't see the messes he makes, so I have to clean up after him. My husband hardly helps me voluntarily. I have to ask him for his help almost all the time. We get along pretty well, but I wish he would put himself in my shoes.

We are going through a bankruptcy because we put ourselves on too much debt before we got married.

My questions are... How do I find time to take care of myself so I can be a better wife and mother? What do I need to change about myself to get my husband to understand where I'm coming from? How can I show my husband that I love and respect him for who he is?

My husband and I are both 23 yrs. old and I am going to start school in the fall, but he doesn't know what he wants to do with his life. How can I encourage him to be the head of the household and help him figure out what he wants to do for the rest of his life? I feel really lost and helpless.

Sincerely, Loving Wife and Mother

Dear Wife and Mother,

The only way to find the answers to your questions -- is to talk with your husband, ask questions to see how he understands the workload in the house, and insist on talking and investigating until the two of you understand one another and know your goals in life. This may take weeks, months, even years. But you must be persistent or you will both lapse back into the lack of focus and unrealistic expectations of life that got you into debt before you were even married.

Be firm and respectful of your husband, but do not back down about your need for him to handle ½ of the house and kids and your grandfather. Period. Somehow you learned to take care of everyone but yourself. Is that what your parents required of you? Is that what you learned at church? Wherever it came from, it is a poor model of womanhood for your kids and it enables your husband to remain a boy.

Your relationship needs to be on equal footing for there to be hope of a good future between the two of you -- otherwise you will strangle your love and life with resentment and anger. Don't do it. You are young, so you may need to grow considerable backbone in order to deal more effectively with the challenges you face.

We support you in doing so!!!

© 2001 The New Intimacy

August 6-12


Loving Endearments

You can offer an endearment to strangers.

Recently we were driving home when, about one hundred feet ahead of us a deer sprang from the woods. As it was coming down from its leap it landed on the hood of a brand new car, was thrown about fifteen feet into the air and onto the medium, and then leapt up and darted away. The deer was no doubt shocked, but it was obviously unhurt.

The driver pulled her car to the side and, as we passed, we decided to stop. Judith got out and walked to the other car to see an older woman driving and a three year old child in a safety seat in back. The child was wide-eyed and the driver was alright. 

"Thank you for stopping," she said as she pulled Judith close to protect her from the traffic.

"We were concerned for you," Judith said.

"Thank you so very much for caring," the woman smiled. "We're a bit shocked but alright."

As Judith was about to return to our car, the woman tugged at her arm and said again, "Thank you so very much for caring."

We will never see her again. But we will remain a small part of one another's lives forever.

That's the power of an endearment. They are always remembered, always cherished, and always create a real sense of connection.

The New Intimacy

At the heart of the new intimacy is the capacity to consciously open yourself and take in more and more of who your partner truly is. That's much easier when what you want to take in is familiar, something you already know and like. But when it comes to differences, ranging from those that are mildly dissimilar, to those that are foreign, or those you've been forbidden to even consider, then love may no longer be so easy or even so attractive.

Simply put, loving someone who is like you is love, but it's elementary and will remain relatively superficial. Loving someone who is different is a love that requires commitment and consciousness and care. It can take you into profound realms of personal growth and remain a life long adventure.

The more you are willing to learn, to extend yourself beyond what you've known, beyond what you are accustomed to, you will be opening yourself to the vast panorama of life and love.

That kind of openness was very rare as recently as one hundred years ago. People hardly moved away from home. They married someone from the same community, whose lifestyle and values were like their own. Their roles were clear and set by tradition.

Today, many of us move away from where we were born and raised. We meet people who are very different from those we knew growing up. What we want and expect from intimacy and relationship is far less determined by rigid social guidelines and more the result of our personal desires. That means we now have to rely on our own knowledge, experience and consciousness to discover what we want and how we will conduct our lives.

It is vitally important today to bring a strong sense of identity to our relationships, because increasingly we are free to make personal choices and are responsible for managing the consequences. A strong, healthy identity will allow you to stop experiencing differences as tiresome, even threatening so you can come to respect and cherish them as the exciting blessings they are.

Creating and sustaining a fulfilling love relationship is one of the most important things we do in life. Yet almost no one receives any preparation. Would you send your child to a school with unprepared teachers? Would you take your car to an untrained mechanic? Would you trust your surgery to someone whose only credential is an intense longing to be a doctor? Yet, with twenty-five dollars for the license and a willing minister or judge, anybody can leap into a trial by fire -- get married and have kids, all on the dream of "happily ever after."

We live in very challenging times, so we need to have compassion for ourselves. But there is much we can learn to make loving and being loved more rewarding and deeply fulfilling.

Ask Judith &  Jim

Dear Judith & Jim,

I have had a relationship with someone for 5 years. We have been living together for 1 year. He goes to Cancun every year with his male friends and refuses to take me. He feels that he needs this time to chill with his male friends and then he also wants a separate vacation with me. I can't get him to agree to stop going to Cancun alone. 

This summer he is planning to go again and we had a huge fight and he does not care -- he is still going. According to him he needs this every year. I have never gone on a vacation without him but I feel that it is time. I am planning an all inclusive trip for a week to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic alone. Now I know that this is not good for the relationship but I do not find a way to get him to understand that we are a family and that he can no longer go on vacation with male friends. 

According to him he is not sleeping with anyone but what do I know. I feel that this is the only way to get him to understand that what he is doing is wrong. Help, how would you resolve this? I have not told him that I want to go alone. A part of me just wants to surprise him and tell him a day before I leave because, I know that he will make me feel guilty about going alone or it might make things worse.

Please Help!

Dear Help,

You are stuck in a classic power struggle. Although Cancun and Punta Cana seem to be the issue, what is really at stake here is each of your unwillingness to change your minds.

He refuses to consider your needs and even withstands a huge fight to maintain his position. You insist that going away with his male friends is wrong and that he can no longer do that. And neither of you has the care to sit down and sincerely listen to the other. In short, you are at war.

You say you don't know whether or not he is sleeping with anyone, even after he's told you he's not. After fiver years, have there been any other clues that might lead you to not believe him? Or is it just about this vacation fight?

If in fact he is not sleeping with anyone, what exactly is the problem with going away with his guy friends? Why does he have to chill every year without you? Do you know? Really know?

Are you enraged because he will not take you? If he is truly going away with the guys, do you really want to be the only female there? Imagine you going away with the girls and his insisting that he be included? Would you want that?

About your going to Punta Cana. If you spring it on him as a power play, yes that will probably make things worse. Why? Because it is just another punch in this fight you are both carrying on.

Look, there is more here than separate vacations and, given what you've written, neither one of you are addressing the underlying issues.

Both of you are defending something you consider precious. What is so important here to you? What is so critical for him? And look to your feelings about it rather than who goes where with whom.

You seem to feel unwanted and abandoned by him with regard to this issue. He appears to feel smothered by you so he needs to get away. Your responses are typical for your genders.

We strongly suggest you get some counseling around this so that when things flare up there is a reasonable third party who can help you through the hurts.

© 2001 The New Intimacy

July 30-August 5
Ask Judith & Jim


Dear Judith & Jim:

I am turning 34 next week and I am single, and somewhat sad at the idea that I still don't have a serious relationship that may lead to marriage. I have always wanted to get married, it's such a cultural expectation for me, but also a personal wish. Based on my choice of partners, I acknowledge that I select men who are scared of commitment and really reluctant to move toward marriage. Usually I am the one who brings up the idea of marriage -- making them feel "pressured" by my desire for marriage. I departed from my boyfriend, right after Christmas, because he also said that he did not want to marry at this time and why string me along if he doesn't know that marriage will happen in the future. We had been together for seven months and he had me meet his family for the holidays. I don't ask for marriage now, but I do see it for myself in the future. The minute I say this to men, they seem to leave. Am I sabotaging my relationships by voicing my interest to get married? I have been unable to attract a long-term partner into my life. I know that marriage is scary but I am willing and able to enter into a committed relationship, regardless of fear and any insecurities I might have -- but I don't meet men who want to go in that direction with me. What must I do? If I am setting myself up for disappointment, then I need to figure out how to stop that. I really want to be committedto someone who wants to settle down. I really don't want to enter another relationship that leads to "just being friends" --What must I do, think or adjust in order to invite a partner into my life?

Dear Still Single:

You ask "Am I sabotaging my relationships by voicing my interest to get married?" This is a wrong question. Why? Because it keeps you focused on the men and their behaviors. You place all of the power and responsibility for what happens with them and then say -- "The minute I say this to men, (i.e. your desire for marriage) they seem to leave." What you are overlooking is your admission that you select men who are afraid of commitment. Your assessment maybe accurate. They may be afraid, as you say. But you keep choosing them!

So, who's afraid of commitment? Are you really, really, willing to enter a committed relationship? The evidence would not seem to support what you believe about yourself. We live our priorities. That is a fact of life. Sometimes those priorities are unconscious. When they are, they drive us to repeat patterns. When those patterns go against what we say we want, we can be assured that an unconscious process is in charge.You say you want to be committed but do not choose appropriate partners. What are you in allegiance to that results in the choices you are making? There is a value in choosing men who won't work out. What is it? This is the question you must answer.

© 2001 The New Intimacy

 



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