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 2001a, Archive 2000.

July 23-29
July 16-22
July 9-15
July 2-8
June 25-July 1
June 18-24
June 11-17
June 4-10
May 28-June 3
May 21-27
May 14-20
May 7-13
April 30-May 6
April 23-29
April 16-22
April 9-15
April 2-8
March 26-April 1
March 19-25
March 12-18
March 5-11
February 26 - March 4
February 19-25
February 12-18
February 5-11, 2001
January 29-February 4
January 22-28
January 15-21
January 8-14
January 1-7
See Books, Issues

July 30-August 5


Loving Endearments

Growing up as children we are often told that our anger is inappropriate, inaccurate, and unwanted. So we are left to repress that which is natural to us and even worse to decide there is something wrong with us for even having the feelings. Then as adults our anger comes out sideways, passive/aggressively, or as abuse both to ourselves and others, along with a debilitating guilt accompanied by a sense that there si something bad at the level of our soul.

One of the deepest and most healing loving endearments two people can give to one another is to respect their anger because it is conveying something that needs to be said and heard.

JIM: We have learned to respect and treat one another's anger seriously, because we trust that whenever anger arises or erupts something needs attention. 

JUDITH: That's the value of anger. It announces, loud and clear, that some hurt has occurred. This is critical t understanding the real meaning of anger. It is almost never about the content. For example, it is almost never about not having taken the garbage out, or not checking with one another about something important.

JIM: It is most often about feeling ignored, not respected, being taken for granted, not being listened to, feeling

unwanted, feeling less-than, feeling overlooked, unappreciated, not included, or some other experience of being hurt. That's the foundation of the anger and that's what must be dealt with.

JUDITH: So, taking each other's anger seriously, means you take each other seriously, and, after all, isn't that what you want ---- really.

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!

 

July 23-29


Loving Endearments

Taking delight in your partner, your lover your mate, is definitely a loving endearment. 

JIM: Yesterday afternoon we were in a video production studio editing what's called a media reel. It's made up of a series of clips from television shows we've been on like The View, 48 Hours, Mars & Venus, and others. 

JUDITH: We are preparing it for this fall when our next book -- Be Loved For Who You Really Are -- will be published. We will use it in our media promotions. Editing, for those of you who've never done it, is very exacting, slow and can be tedious.

JIM: As we were working, Judith, sitting next to me, began to do leg exercises. She would raise her feet making her calves parallel with the floor and set them down. 

JUDITH: Although I loved what we were doing, there were moments when we had to wait for the editor to do something technically, so I thought I'd use the time productively. 

JIM: At first I thought she was just stretching, but after two or three leg raises, I knew she was exercising. I was delighted. There she was, being inventive as well as turning down-time into something valuable for her.  

JUDITH: Jim smiled and I knew he was appreciating my mini-workout.

JIM: I was. And I was admiring the way she goes about her life.  A smile, a gesture, a small word can communicate your delight to your partner and both of you can enjoy the pleasure of being lovingly endearing with one another.  It doesn't take much.

© 2001 The New Intimacy

July 16-22


Loving Endearments

JIM: Last week my mother visited us for three days. She is 85 and has lived her entire life in the house she now occupies in Detroit.

JUDITH: Jim has lived in four different states and in both urban and rural settings. There is a very large difference in the way he and his mother experience the world.

Sincere respect of differences is the foundation of any loving endearment. 

JIM: For Sunday brunch, we took my other to the Tavern at Beekman Arms in Rhinebeck, NY the oldest inn in the United States. We knew she would be stretching well beyond what she's accustomed to. 

JUDITH: Although she had a good time, she clearly felt awkward and unsure of what to do. So we eased her concerns by asking her what she was feeling, and what she thought of the food.

JIM: As we were driving away, she thanked us for being so sensitive to her and making it so comfortable for her. And she wanted us to know what a good time she had.  

JUDITH: And what did we do? We respected that it was an environment far outside of what she was used to. We respected her anxiety, her uncertainty and helped her relax. And we asked her beforehand whether or not she'd like to go there. If she'd said no, we would have chosen a more familiar setting.  

The New Intimacy

We received the following from a subscriber: "The question I debate w/ people is can a person who has been intimate w/ someone evolve into a pure friendship if both people agree they are not suited for each other as mates but as friends?"

In our work we've heard this question before. 

First, for clarification, the word "intimate" above means sexual. It so often happens that when two people stop being sexual, whatever relationship they had dissolves -- often with recrimination and resentment. But why? What is it about having been sexual that carries such a burden?

Why is it that when two people share their deepest feelings, concerns, hopes and ambitions with each other and then break up -- that kind of intimacy doesn't carry the same foreboding?

We have given sexuality far too much importance in the scheme of things.

Granted, during orgasm one can be "out of control" and thereby reveal a vulnerability that is precious and powerful. But have you never been frightened, felt depressed, concerned about being incompetent, or any other vulnerable experience and shared it with a friend or lover? Have you never wept or been paralyzed with indecision and, in that sense, been as out of control as during an orgasm?  

We need to widen our understanding of intimacy to include the full range of self-revealing that is part of openly being with someone.

Let's re-phrase the question. "Can a person who has been emotionally, intellectually, sexually and spiritually intimate w/ someone evolve into a pure friendship if both people agree they are not suited for each other as mates but want to be friends?"

Certainly they can. What would stop them? 

We see two common reasons for terminating contact. In the first, one person is not truly finished with their romantic hopes and dreams and continues to mudwaters with anxiety, possessiveness and/or subtle, even unconscious seductive maneuvers and the other person grows tired of the game playing.

The other major problem arises when either one or both find another relationship that is as deeply intimate or even deeper. Their continuing friendship might then cause difficulties.

If the two people continue to see each other as friends while being romantically involved elsewhere, then they must reveal their friendship and its former romantic roots to their new lovers -- otherwise they are carrying on an emotional affair which cheats the current lovers as significantly as a sexual affair. If their continuing friendship does not have a negative impact on their new relationships, then so much the better.  

However, it is the new lover, the mate who needs to be allowed in the most intimately and that kind of emotional and sexual intensity is not to be shared. Herein lies the problem.

You cannot be equally close to two people. It is at this point that the friendship must recede.

But, to believe that having been sexual is in itself an impediment to an ongoing friendship is to elevate sex to a level of power that it does not deserve. Sex is wonderful, but it is only one facet in the jewel of being with someone.

Ask Judith & Jim

Dear Judith & Jim,

First, let me tell you how much I like your column. My husband and I just celebrated our tenth anniversary, took a long-belated honeymoon without the kids, and are looking forward to the next ten years. Your wisdom and insight bring me hope and skills to get us there, in this time when many of our friends are leaving their long-term relationships. This brings me to my dilemma.

About eight months ago, two very close friends of ours who were partners got a "divorce". One of them had an affair, and decided to leave the home the couple had built together to live with her lover, in a town about an hour away. I converse and spend time with the friend who was "dumped" quite often. I'm having a hard time figuring out my relationship with the friend who had the affair, however. 

First of all, it was not something I would have expected of her, so I'm still shocked and a little disappointed. I really do not want to get to know this new lover at this time, since all I know of her is that she pursued my friend even though my friend was in a committed relationship, and that bothers me.  

And then there's the fact that my friend moved so far away, making physical contact that much more difficult. I'm trying hard not to be judgmental, and I did value our friendship at one time, but now, I'm just confused. 

I know you typically deal with intimacy between partners, but how about friends? This person has not tried to explain her actions to me, and I feel it's not my place to ask. After all, she didn't do anything to me, only to er partner. I would appreciate any advice you have on this matter. Thank you very much!!--C

Dear C,

Thank you for your kind words about us. We are delighted and supported by your response. 

There are several issues here you must face. First, what has been shocked are your expectations. She behaved in a way that radically upset the picture you'd drawn of her. That doesn't mean she is not responsible. Before the "divorce" she behaved in ways that gave credence to your expectations. Nevertheless, the depth of your shock is equal to the certainty you gave to who you thought she was. 

We assume her affair didn't happen in an instant. To have left the home she'd participated in building must have required some time to persuade her. But she was persuadable That is at the crux of the issue. She was persuadable. So she either was not as satisfied as she appeared in the relationship you knew, or she saw something so incredible that she could not resist. Although the latter does happen, the former is more likely. 

You say it's not your place to ask her to explain her actions. Why not? She behaved as a friend and so she has a responsibility to you. She may not respect that responsibility but it is there nonetheless. If you do not ask, you are doing yourself a disservice. You have been fractured and you must do whatever you need to heal yourself.  When you say she didn't do anything to you. That's not true. She disrupted you and all those who she helped believe she was content in her previous relationship. You say you were very close. That counts for something. We are not beings who live in isolation from one another. We are deeply, subtly and intricately inter-woven in each other's lives and if we enjoy the benefits of that intimacy we must hold ourselves accountable for the impact of our behaviors on that intimacy.

We suggest you call her. You need to do that for you own well being and, if she was a friend, she owes you some explanation. If we are not responsible to one another for what we allow others to believe about us, then chaos reigns.

© 2001 The New Intimacy

July 9-15


Loving Endearments

In "Be Loved For Who You Really Are" we show you how to develop the Grace of Deep Intimacy that blesses any couple's life when they travel the full journey of what love has to offer.

One of the blessings of a spiritually sustained romantic love is that in it you find yourself relating to all of life through love. In this way, loving endearments can come from and be given to even strangers.

For example, Judith has an old wrought iron bird cage stand that she found in a junk store ages ago and now she wants a plant to hand where the bird cage used to be. Today at our supermarket (45 minutes down the mountain) the following endearment occurred. 

JUDITH: I asked the woman watering the outdoor plants if she had any small hanging planters. She said no and then offered to walk me over to The Dollar Store (three stores away) to show me a small planter that might work. To do so she had to leave her post outside the supermarket where she sells the plants. I was so touched by her generosity and interest in sharing what she knew.

When she showed me what she had in mind, it wasn't quite right but I'd been opened to think about some other options. As we walked back, I thanked her for her generosity and told her how meaningful her suggestions had been. She smiled and acknowledged that sometimes we just need someone else's input and then helped me pick out the best plant for my experiment and asked me to keep her posted on how it worked out.  

I asked her name -- Tina. And then I thanked her once more, assuring her that I would give her a full report the next time I saw her.  

We had been endearing with one another -- and she initiated it by offering to take me to the other store. Years ago I would have been too uptight to let a stranger give to me in that way. Today I can smile about this wonderful experience and look forward to buying and talking about plants with Tina.

The New Intimacy

When you put on an emotional mask to hide yourself, you are making a conscious or unconscious assumption that others will not accept you for who you are. Your mask is supposed to change how you appear to others, to stand in for or replace who you are, in the hope that people will accept your "made-to-order self."

Masks are often necessary. It would be foolish, if not dangerous, to suggest that you just drop your masks and go out into the world soul-naked. But as your masks successfully keep you distant from those around you, they also keep you distant from yourself.

Masks hide all kinds of perceived inadequacies. You may not feel attractive enough, so you wear heavy makeup or drive an expensive car you can't afford. You may thinkyou're not smart enough so you purposely limit your discussions with friends to a narrow range of topics. You may feel you need to compensate for being overweight or underweight, too sensitive or not sensitive enough, frightened, indecisive or anything else you feel you need to conceal.

But masks don't hide just the bad things. We often use them to hide our talents and dreams, our skills and abilities in order to purchase acceptability. In our culture, women have often had to deny their own competence in the workplace in order to appear "ladylike." Many men have had to suppress their tender feelings to protect themselves from being called "wimps." It's not uncommon for teenagers to sabotage or deny their academic excellence in order to belong. Mask wearing is always a performance calculated to produce a specific result.

The longer you keep the mask on the more practiced you become at being what you imagine someone else thinks is acceptable. You become increasingly dulled to your own impulses, feelings and responses and are finally unable, for all practical purposes, to distinguish between who you are and who you are trying to be.

Even so, the truth of who you are never dies. It echoes out through a vague sense of fraudulence and through an almost silent guilt. Somewhere within you know you are acting out a deceit. You know you are accountable for the self-rejection that initiated the whole process, the self-rejection you are doomed to perpetuate as long as you keep concealed.

It doesn't matter how successful you are with your disguise.You still lose yourself. In fact, your success is a death sentence, creating more and more emptiness, more and more loneliness, more and more spiritual hunger, because your mask cannot ever fulfill those you are trying to please nor can it be fulfilled by them. You can only come back to life by reclaiming your self and that's one of the primary rewards of lovework. 

Ask Judith & Jim

Dear Judith & Jim,

I just found out a few days ago that my boyfriend of a year has had an outbreak of herpes, both in his mouth and on his genitals. Well, he then broke down and told me that his previous girlfriend/mother of his 2 year old daughter had them, but never had the symptoms while they were together. He's been 100% faithful to me (I know), so he had to get it from her. The question is....I haven't had any symptoms yet, but I more than likely have it because we've been together a year, and do not use protection. We were planning on getting married and moving in together within the next couple of months, but I feel really down about this whole "showing symptoms now" thing. I don't know if I will ever be able to kiss him, much less have sex with him ever again. Is it too late, should I just stay with him and deal with it, or should I kick him to the curb? 

Pondering-the-thought, need some advice...........

Dear Pondering, 

The very first thing you should do is consult a doctor. Herpes is a virus and that can be tested for. Also, has he seen a doctor? Does he have medical confirmation that what he is showing are in fact herpes? But these are secondary issues.

You have framed this as an all-or-nothing response -- stay with him or kick him out. We appreciate your surprise and hurt and feeling betrayed. But the point here is whether or not your boyfriend is sincere. And whether or not you actually love him.

Do you believe him when he says that his ex-wife "never had the symptoms while they were together." You say he has been 100% faithful. How does that factor into his being sincere? You've been with him for a year so there clearly are things you enjoy about him.

When we are shocked, as you have been, we go into hyper- protective mode. That's an intensely black-and-white way of being. Given that you are unsure of what to do, trust your instincts and allow the shock and hurt to subside. We'd advise that you keep your sexual distance during that time. And then, when you feel stronger, talk with him about his side. How he feels? What guilt, embarrassment, shame does he feel? What remorse?

Although it may look like a one-way-street -- that is, only you have input and it's exclusively your choice, that leaves you alone without information you need to make a decision you will be comfortable with.

You two need some heart-to hearts. Express the hurt, fear, rage, whatever so everything is on the table. Then decide if love will prevail -- or will it be shock and disappointment that wins your heart?

© 2001 The New Intimacy

July 2-8


Loving Endearments

Sometimes a loving gesture can appear to be just a chore or a job. But that's only when it's done without any awareness of your lover or spouse or not received with loving gratitude.

JUDITH: For instance, we went grocery shopping a couple of days ago and Jim got a pint of lovely, fresh strawberries.

JIM: But I didn't eat them right away. In fact I'd forgotten about them. 

JUDITH: Tonight, as I was getting dinner ready I spotted the strawberries hidden behind some left-overs in the refrigerator. So I stemmed and them and cut them up.

JIM: When she served them to me for dessert with a little local maple syrup, I knew it was a love gift.

Stay conscious about showing your love through your everyday "chores." 

The New Intimacy

In our May 4th issue we wrote about the need to say "I'm Sorry," in a relationship. Michael M. sent in this response. 

"When "Love Story" first came out, I was about 18 years old. My cousin (female and about 14) asked me what I thought about that catch phrase from the movie, "Love means never having to say you're sorry".

In that issue we said -- "It suggests that two people who love one another never crash into each other, never step on each other's toes, never say or do anything hurtful. Yet, anyone who's been in an intimate relationship knows that's not true."

MM - Sounded like exactly what I said to her at the time. She gave me a different perspective that was not recognized in your (or my) interpretation."  

"She said, "Those words don't mean that you never do anything wrong, never do anything you have to say 'I'm sorry' for. It means that, when two people are truly in love, truly soulmates, that when they have the occasional lapse into the imperfections of humanity and get angry or do something hurtful, then when the 'perpetrator' comes back apologetic, he (or she) doesn't actually have to SAY 'I'm sorry'. The other person already knows it. 'Love means never having to SAY you're sorry'"

Thanks Michael. Yes, it's true that there are times when there is no need to SAY anything. In fact, speaking may just get in the way. 

However, our problem with your cousin's interpretation is that it assumes a lot. First, that the offended partner already "knows" the other feels bad. Sometimes that's true. other times not. But it asks for people to read each other's minds. 

Also, if they need not SAY "I'm sorry," then they need not SAY "I love you" or "How was your day" or "Gee, you look good" or "What's going on with you?" Such soulmates just know. Well, that may apply at some times in some cases, but most people need to say it and hear it -- whatever it is. 

We would rather not leave love to mind reading. After years of working with couples, and witnessing the loneliness and desperation that arises out of silence, we opt for speaking. 

So we heartily suggest that expressing thoughts and feelings is not only safer, it actually fosters more intimacy because there has to be an overt giving and receiving. When two people do that, they lay themselves open to one another, which is at the heart of committed intimacy. 

One more point, we don't believe the "occasional lapses into imperfection" are in fact imperfections. They are part of the very fabric of this life. It seems to us that if we relate to them as imperfections, we deny their value as teachers and we hold a false notion of what it means to be human. And at the worst, we use "true love" as an escape from the fullness of what this life presents to us. 

Ask Judith & Jim

Dear Judith & Jim,

I have been married for over 15 years. I have had a male friend in my life for about the same amount of time. We have seen each other over the years only as friends. 

After all the years we decided to have sex. Well, I was not quite ready for it. It was lousy. When we were done he was deep in thought and I asked him what was wrong and all he could say was that he was thinking about work. I feel I ruined a good friendship by sleeping with this person. Things are not the same. What can I do to resolve this? I will not sleep with him again, but I would like to keep the friendship. Thank you. 

Goofed 

Dear Goofed, 

We are more concerned about your having sex with this person and not caring about the impact on your marriage of 15 years than whether you can keep the friendship. What is missing in your marriage that drove you into the arms of your friend?

Please invite your husband to join you in examining what needs to be renewed and reinvented to keep your marriage alive and meaningful (and to keep you from future ill-fated dalliances).

With regard to keeping the friendship, we're not sure this man qualifies as a "friend." That he would have sex with you, disregarding the effect on you and your marriage, suggests he's not holding you with much care or concern. Also, his answer that he was thinking about work is pretty evasive and not in the best interests of your relationship. If you still want to remain friends, then, by all means, talk to him and find out the reality of that.

More importantly, we recommend that you take a long hard look at your priorities and commit to getting your life on better track so you can treat yourself with more respect and care.

© 2001 The New Intimacy

June 25-July 1


JIM: About two years ago Judith suffered a detached retina. After two successful operations she's regained most of her sight in the effected eye. However, she still has difficulty in poor light conditions with depth perception. For example, she'll have trouble going down stairs, or misjudging the height of a curb. 

JUDITH: Jim, of course, knows that this is still a challenge for me..

JIM: We did a lot of walking in the old section of Havana. Judith was fine during the day but as the sun went down it became difficult for Judith in these unfamiliar and uneven street conditions.

JUDITH: The streets are uneven, with cracks everywhere, and the curbs are not as high as in the U.S. So I had to be careful as I walked along. But Jim would walk ahead of me and point out the curbs and the wide cracks in the pavement. Also, the staircases in the old building are not well lit and he would count out the number of stairs so that I knew what to expect.

JIM: Although, in our past newsletters, we've more often described loving endearments as sweet or fun or tender gestures, they can also be very practical and unsentimental.  

One danger in romantic relationships is to assume that everything is about feelings and only dreamy, passionate feelings at that. But if you limit your understanding and appreciation of romance to just the honey moments so much will go by that you will miss and, proportionately, there aren't enough honey moments to constitute the whole of a relationship.

Endearments are more often like board and mortar. They form the structure of a relationship and give it the strength to sustain for the long haul. 

Open your eyes to what you are being given -- especially at those times when it doesn't feel romantic. You will be surprised at how much romance is available to you if you just shift your vision and look with new eyes.

Ask Judith & Jim

Dear Judith & Jim,

My boyfriend and I have been dating for almost three years. We are different races so there was initial conflict with families but that now is resolved. We have not lived together but I used to spend weekends at his house. He is 27 and I am 23, and we have discussed marriage and children. He moved to Texas 4 months ago for school and I have one year left to finish my degree, then we are planning that I will move there with him and start our life together there. I have to get a work visa by June to join him. I visited him in October and he came here to stay at my apt. for two weeks over Christmas. He was still in contact with a few ex's and female friends while he was here but since he has moved he has not contacted them because he does not want them to know where he is. But I am so upset because he called them at all. When I asked him about it he lied and said that he had not, and it is not my business who he talks to anyway. He says that I do not need to know everything.

My confession is that I found out this information from checking his email. I can not admit this to him, because I was snooping. I know that he is not cheating on me. I am upset because I don't know why he needed to call them in the first place when they haven't heard from him in months. He was supposed to cut off all attachments to them. He did this on my phone, blocking my number to them. Can you offer me any help on how to resolve this? What do I do? Thanks.

Upset!

Dear Upset,

We can understand your confusion about why he called them at all, particularly since he hadn't had any contact with them for months. However, our concern, like yours, is for why you are so upset. 

Clearly, your sense of security with him is not as strong as it first appears. You did not ask him why he called. Instead you snooped. Why didn't you talk with him about it? He seems to have taken precautions against their intruding into your life together, and you say you know he is not cheating on you. Then why couldn't you have talked with him? The insecurity lies not with him but with you.

Did you feel you had no right to speak? Did you not want to make waves? 

You say you need a work visa. So you are from another country. That can certainly add to your sense of vulnerability. Nevertheless, that is a fact of your relationship at this time. To back away from the truth of your situation by not speaking and then by snooping only adds unnecessary anxiety and melodrama. 

You must talk with him about your upset, and if you can be truly open to all facets of this problem your snooping and distrust included -- be prepared to discover parts of yourself that you may not like but they must be acknowledged in order for your future marriage to be built on solid ground. 

If you do not talk with him, you will either continue to build a case against him or tear yourself apart. In either instance you will damage, if not destroy what you now have.

Finally, if you do not break your silence, you will enter into an emotional affair with it. You will have something you are giving your energy to that you cannot share with him. That's the same as emotional cheating. So beware you don't set yourself up to fail in what you hope will be so good for you.

© 2001 The New Intimacy

June 18-24


Sometimes a loving endearment can seem to be anything but!!

JIM: I was raised in a family that held intelligence as a very high value. That was the bright side. However, needing time to learn was not praised. That meant things had to be known instantly -- almost as though I had to be born knowing things. When I made a mistake, which, of course would have set up the opportunity to learn something, I felt the wrath of contempt.

JUDITH: Early in our marriage, I was wrestling with a window shade -- it was a blackout blind and so particularly thick and heavy that it slipped out of my hand and went sailing to the top of the window with a crashing noise.

JIM: I heard the noise and was immediately filled with contempt.  

JUDITH: Jim came into the room and I saw what he was feeling. He was about to direct his anger at me so I said, "Buster, you cut that crap out!"

JIM: I was stopped in my tracks and instantly saw how unconscious I was and trapped in an old, deeply ingrained reaction. It took me a moment to gather myself and I said, "I'm sorry, Judith. Thanks for being strong."

A loving endearment isn't necessarily tender. It can be forceful, even fierce, but it is loving because the well being of the relationship is what is important.

The New Intimacy

Do you remember the catch-phrase "Love means never having to say your sorry"? 

It suggests that two people who love one another never crash into each other, never step on each other's toes, never say or do anything hurtful. Yet, anyone who's been in an intimate relationship knows that's not true.

In fact, if love does mean never having to say your sorry, then you are either not showing up and being fully who you are or you're using a simplistic interpretation of love to keep yourself from having to acknowledge that you can be insensitive, unaware, self-involved -- with the result that your partner feels unheard, ignored, taken for granted, or hurt in some way.

What's wrong with saying "I'm sorry"? What do you have to lose? After all, an apology is just an acknowledgment that you've been out of line, or unconscious, or maybe just too tired.

But what if you've said or done something you had no idea would be hurtful? In this case, both men and women often refuse to say, "Hey, I'm sorry you feel bad." and even more adamantly refuse to assume responsibility for having been involved, even just slightly, in their partner's upset. 

"I didn't do anything," they argue. "How could I have known? So what do I have to be responsible for?"  

Well, what you are responsible for is the well being of your relationship.

That doesn't mean you have to assume responsibility every time your partner feels bad. That would be like not having a self. We don't mean you say "I'm sorry" as an automatic matter of policy.

We do mean that, if the well being of your relationship is of primary concern to you, then, even if you don't feel responsible, your being-together has been disturbed and must be attended to. It's at times like these that what's needed is a simple, "I'm sorry I wasn't aware of what that meant to you. What do you need so that this won't happen again?"  

You don't assume a false responsibility and yet you show your love by expressing support for your partner.  

Love means saying you're sorry when you know you are responsible, so that an apology is a simple acknowledgment of your having said or done something that was hurtful. And when you know you're not directly responsible, or intentionally responsible, you are willing to offer an "I'm sorry" anyway. It only requires your conscious care for the feelings of the one you say you love and the rewards are immense.

Ask Judith & Jim

Dear Judith & Jim,

How do I get over an affair my husband had last year at Christmas time? We are committed now, but it still haunts me and I have a hard time trusting anything now.

Still Haunted 

Dear Still Haunted, 

The best way to get over an affair is to understand all of the elements of it. Here's what we mean. 

Two people are always teaching each other what they will accept or not, what they will put up with or not, what they want and what they don't. That starts at the first moment of their meeting and carries through for the life of their relationship. Consequently, all relationships are co-created. In other words, an affair is the result of co-created emotional and/or sexual distance expressed by one person going outside the relationship for sex or companionship or whatever.

That being the case, if you continue to insist that he is the only one responsible for what happened, then you will either have to erase it absolutely from your memory, which is not only not possible without severe psychological damage, or you will have to find a level of forgiveness that is possible only for saints (perhaps). But if you come to a deep understanding of why he did what he did, which must include your conscious or unconscious participation, then you can build a path out of your haunting and toward a reconciliation that will be effective. 

To experience what we're talking about, bring to mind a time when you were hurt by a female friend and you resolved it. No doubt the resolution arose from your understanding and acceptance of her position as well as her acceptance of yours. That is the only way a true resolution can occur that will not leave behind a haunting.  

Do you know why he had the affair? Have you two talked about what was going on at home that was part of why he went outside your marriage? Can you understand his point of view?

Do you know what you were like that contributed to his leaving? Have you discussed that? Does he understand your point of view?  

Can you both feel compassion for one another? Without compassion, you will feel victimized and powerless. That is at the heart of the haunting and he will feel the same. 

Should he have spoken with you about what was missing for him? Absolutely! Were there any clues that you overlooked and/or denied because you were afraid to speak up?  

Nothing in relationship happens unilaterally. Your haunting continues because you haven't come to terms with the reality of your situation that was the breeding ground for an affair. 

You must face into yourself. You need to know more. The truth of what happened for both of you will set you free of the haunting and open the emotional space to co-create a future that is secure and richly loving and romantic. Right now, the continuation of your marriage is being built on top of a fault line that will either give way in the future or cause you both to relate with such caution that it will take the life out of what you have.

© 2001 The New Intimacy

June 11-17


One of the most powerful endearments you can give anyone is to keep them in mind. Here's the way we say it:

Keep me in your consciousness the way I keep you in mine. 

What could be more loving than to keep the sense of, the nthought of, an image of the one you love within you. This is not as hard as it may at first seem. All it takes is a little paying attention.

JIM: Just before she lays down at night, Judith picks up her pillow, shakes it and turns it around. When I realized that she does it every night I wondered why. Finally I asked her.

JUDITH: I told Jim that it's puffier on the side I didn't sleep on the night before.  

JIM: I was delighted because that's something I hadn't considered. When she told me she became, for me, more interesting and even more unique.  

JUDITH: I was delighted to be seen with such care.  

JIM: Now the image of Judith turning her pillow is part of how I see her, how I keep her in my consciousness.  

JUDITH: And I know that I am a living part of Jim and all I had to do was turn my pillow.  

When you pay attention, when you notice, you build a picture of the one you love that you carry with you everywhere. Your picture becomes more and more specific and more and more dear. And after all, isn't that what we all want, to be loved for who we really are? 

The New Intimacy

Intimacy comes in many forms. 

In thinking about little Jack Nichols, and his need for the support of all of us, we began thinking about community, about joining together to focus on one need and creating a co-operation to assist in giving our energy to Jack. That is intimacy. Not, of course, how intimacy is usually thought of, but nevertheless, when we commit to focusing our intention and attention on something specific, we all become part of one mental body, one common desire, one large heart. We contribute our individuality to a larger body without losing ourselves in the process. In fact, we gain something we hadn't had before, intimacy with a group of people, some of whom we will never know.

Jack Nichols is one year old today. Although his form of leukemia has a good prognosis, he is still in a struggle for his life. We all know what that means. Not necessarily in the specifics - - a battle with cancer -- but we've all felt, at some point and to some degree, more or less, that something we cherished was on the line. Perhaps it was the loss of a first love. Perhaps we felt betrayed and had to marshal everything in us to overcome feeling defeated. Perhaps a dream, or ambition, or desire, collapsed and we fell into a depression, or a sadness, or even a desperate aloneness. During those times, wouldn't it have been helpful to know, really know, that others were out there supporting us, rooting for us, wanting us to heal and become whole again?

Jack's need has become a focus point of a spiritual community. Because of him we can all experience the intimacy of being in common. We are in communion with each other through him. By each of us making a personal covenant to send our intentions his way, we are communicating with one another, we are setting up an energy field that is so unique as to never have existed before. That's powerful and very, very intimate.  

So, share yourself with Jack as you make the time to hold him in your individual and our collective consciousness. Let's do it together.

Ask Judith & Jim

Dear Judith and Jim, 

I am almost 25 years old and I have never had a lastingrelationship with a man. I take relationships seriously and I am not into games. I don't jump into the physical side of it but I am not intimidated by it either. I am active in my church but there are no single men my age or even close. I go to aerobics at a city athletic center 4 times a week and walk my golden retriever almost every day around the neighborhood. I have a wonderful Christian family and I teach school for a living....I have a very fulfilling life that I love but I long to share it with someone and to have a family of my own....when I examine my life I really don't know where I would even meet someone with like beliefs in God which is of the utmost importance to me...they aren't at my church and I seldom meet anyone in the "outside" world even though I feel I am very active in it...my close friends are married and they say I am young and to give it time.....but I look at people (mostly at church) who are in their late 30's and early 40's and are still "giving it time".....I don't want to spend the next 15 years of my life waiting if there is something I can be doing...other than improving myself of course. If you have ANY suggestions I would greatly appreciate it.

Still Single

Dear Still Single, 

You say you've never had a lasting relationship with a man. That suggests a pattern and wherever there is a pattern, you are responsible for your participation in it.  

You say not only are there no single men your age at church, you add "not even close." Well, you either mean they are older or younger or they are not what you want. If it's the former, aren't there other churches you could attend? If it's the latter, then we suggest you examine what you are looking for? Why? Because your beliefs in God are of the utmost importance to you. "Utmost" is a very powerful choice of words. It means - of the greatest or highest degree. 

Now, it's always delicate to talk about someone's religious beliefs, but we wonder if any man can reach that "utmost" standard you expect. But, since that is what you want, those men who might would probably be orthodox in their beliefs. So you might search out a church that is as dedicated as you are. That congregation might have the man you are looking for.  

Also you seldom meet anyone in the "outside" world who meets your expectations. Your use of the phrase "outside world" once again implies the intensity with which you are given to your religious attachments. Is there really room for someone in your heart? You might take offense at our asking the question but we suggest you consider it very seriously. 

You also are seeing those in their late 30's and early 40's who are still giving it time. Your close friends are married - yet you say nothing about getting them to fix you up with men they know who would be eligible. Nor do you mention looking into singles websites that would cater to your particular religious persuasion. Why not!?

Please pay attention to the fact that you are focusing on the negative and framing your own vision of your future accordingly.  

It is not unusual for a woman your age to be concerned with finding a man. However, if all you can see is what is not working, you are well on your way to duplicating it.  

You need to take stock of just how your devotion may be standing in your way. That's not to say that you should give up your religious convictions. But there may not be many men who can match you in that area. And that brings us to our last point, one which you've already heard. You are young. If you can accept that and place your focus on what is right in the marriages around you, you may open your heart for the perfect man to enter. And should that happen, please remember, he will be different from you in many way and that is what will make your relationship vibrant an alive.

© 2001 The New Intimacy

June 4-10


One very powerful loving endearment is the question "What do you mean?" When you ask it, you are showing your interest. You are letting the other person know you recognize that they are different from you and you want to know them.

You are not projecting your interpretations onto them, which means you are according them their own point of view.

You are opening the channel for further communication. 

You are open to learning what they have to say.

Sometimes, simply by asking, you help them clarify what they are experiencing. 

You are not rushing to judgment. 

Neither are you being a mind reader.

You are vulnerable in the sense that you are admitting you don't have all things figured out and are open to being changed.

You are sensitive and caring.

You are in relationship, so that whatever results from further discussion will be the product of the two of you.  

You are open to the unknown and to the magic that is available when two people co-create their being together. 

Four little words "What do you mean?" can open a universe of connection and, besides, it can be a lot of fun to boot.

------------------

Last weekend we traveled to the Mohonk Mountain House, a six story, stone and wood hotel that was built in sections between the mid 1800's and 1910. It is a stunning structure at the end of a long, winding road up in the mountains near New Paltz, New York. It was like being thrust back into another era. 

JIM: When we were undressing for the night, Judith hung what she was wearing in the closet and then looked for the closet light switch. 

JUDITH: I couldn't find it, either inside the closet or on the outside wall. It was very peculiar.  

JIM: She didn't know it, but I was delighted watching her trying to find the switch. Her face was all scrunched up, curiosity and frustration combined to intensify her determination. She looked into the closet and then out and then in and then out again. The world was not acting like she expected it would.

JUDITH: I couldn't believe it. There was a light and it was on, but no way to do anything about it. Would it just stay on all night? I hoped not. What a waste that would be. But I just knew there had to be some way of shutting the thing off.

JIM: I've seen Judith puzzle over mechanical things before. When we were first together, I'd become annoyed and then felt obligated to help her out of a jam. So I'd grouse and say "Here, let me do it." Now I put myself in her shoes. The closet light was certainly acting peculiarly, not what one would expect. Then I noticed it went out automatically as the door was almost shut. The switch was a button in the door-frame.  

JUDITH: Well, how about that? The idea appealed to my love of efficiency and lack of waste. But there should've been a sign telling a person what was going on. When I looked at Jim he was smiling sweetly. I felt so cared for and saw he was appreciating my dilemma.  

As Carl Rogers said, you cannot ever really communicate until you put yourself into the other person's experience. Not literally, of course. But, because we've all had, to one degree or another, most of the emotional experiences that are possible in this life, the door to connection is readily available.

When you are trying to connect with someone, look inside yourself for an experience you've had that is similar to what the other person is going through. Not the details, like mysterious light switches, but the emotional content. Surely you've felt puzzled, confused, thrown off guard, or whatever the moment contains. That way you can empathize or sympathize from your own experience and the connection will be there. That's what it means to walk a mile in the other person's shoes, or maybe not a mile, just a moment. It's all the same. It's in your willingness to look inside for the emotional connection that is usually not very hard to find.

ASK JUDITH & JIM

Dear Judith and Jim,

My husband and I have been married 14 years and have two wonderful children. I love my husband but there are times I can't stand to be around him. My number one priority is working out our marriage but at times I feel like it's impossible.  

There has been a major problem between the two of us for around 3 or 4 years and this is in the way he treats our 13 year old son. He can be very rude to him and when he gets mad at him for talking back or something like that, he gets in this horrible attitude that he can't get rid of and so treats all of us meanly. There are times I step in (only when things are REALLY out of hand) because I feel he isn't being fair to our son -- I know this isn't right, but I can't stand the way he is treating him. There is no hitting involved, only yelling. When I do step in, I try to be calm and ask him to calm down is all and he completely blows up and says I am sticking up for our son. So if I say anything about the way I feel he goes on a yelling defense to the point where I would rather not say anything for my and the kids' sake. He calls our son lazy and other things and I know it hurts him because it hurts me. He gets a hateful look on his face and is just plain mean. I don't know what to do because both my kids want us to be together and I've always believed in working things out but I don't know how much more I can put up with. It doesn't seem like it can be worked out at this point.

He isn't always as described above. It seems at times we get things worked out and he is putting an effort into calming down and handling things better. Usually though, I have to practically threaten to leave him for him to be nice. The 'niceness' is always temporary (sometimes it will last a month if we are lucky) and the 'meanness' seems to always return. Can you please give me any advice, insights, anything that would help? Desperate

Dear Desperate, 

The key to what may be going on with your husband is the fact that he didn't begin this rageful behavior until about three years ago. More men than we would be like to admit are threatened by their sons when the child hits puberty and is no longer simply obedient. It seems to have begun when your son was about ten, which is early, but the antagonism between the father and son, especially the first son, or only son as it appears to be with you, is not uncommon.  

Part of the problem is that at the essence of puberty there is the demand on the child to begin to leave home. That means he has to start resisting what he is being told, in order to find his own mind. He has to begin testing his own points of view in order to develop his own way in life. Whether that is overt or covert, it will happen if the son's spirit has not been broken. You say your son talks back indicating his strength and determination to express his own mind. And that's his job as a teenager.  

A well respected psychologist, D. W. Winnicott, said "The task of the adolescent is to kill the parent. The task of the parent is to not die." 

But, it is the rare parent, mother or father, who is not threatened by the sudden resistence an adolescent begins to express.

So, what about your husband?

How was he treated by his father, or other male figure, when he entered puberty? Also, your husband's behaviors are partly biological a response to the threat presented by the younger, stronger male to the established but older male. The first source to consider is his own background. He is not physically abusive so he has some sense of restraint. But he is assaulting your sons's sense of maleness and eventual manhood.

Your husband's rage is old, very old, perhaps from the time he was a child. He is wounded and your son, just by growing up, shines a light on that wound. Your husband is most likely unaware of his own hurt. If he is aware, then he is being malicious and is dangerous. It seems like he is not because you say he tries to stop the meanness. So his rage is an expression of his own sense of extreme vulnerability and he attacks.

He is out of control and you cannot continue to accept his raging regardless of its source. But since you and the children want to work things out, you need to impress upon your husband your determination to protect your son. And you need to also let him know you recognize his pain, which it doesn't appear anyone is doing, especially him. He no doubt will resist at first. The more he resists the more you will know how unconscious his motives are and how unaware he is of his own feelings.

You will need to be compassionate, but not at the expense of your son's psyche. If you can, you should find someone who can help your son during this very tough time. We hope your husband will agree to get counseling. Hopefully he will do so out of his love and loyalty to you and your children. And please tell your son that it is not personal. He needs to know it's not his fault, so he doesn't distort his own self-image in this very precarious time in his own growing up. 

Please let us know how it turns out.

© 2001 The New Intimacy

May 28-June 3


While three little words, "I love you," may rank as some of the most difficult to say, we suggest there are two more that run a close second. "Thank you."

If you think about it, people are doing things for you all day long. In fact, you couldn't get through your life without the many, many people who extend themselves to provide you with what you need. 

We're not talking just about your lover or your spouse, but with anyone who makes your life better. 

How often do you take for granted what people do for you? The live voice at telephone information. The checker in the market. The neighbor who calls to see how you are. Those are what we call "small kindnesses." They may happen in a flash, but they're as powerful as anything we may experience. Even more powerful in that they are part of the atmosphere in which we all live. Without them, this life would be infinitely more difficult if not a horror.

Do you consciously make sure these small kindnesses are acknowledged? Do you let people know you appreciate how they've added to your life?

When friends forward jokes and stories by email, do you thank them for thinking of you? You don't even have to like the joke or the story. But, when you say, "thank you," you are full-filling and completing the gesture. They've given to you. You've recognized them. They are witnessed and so are you. The connection is realized and you both feel, not merely better, but complete.

It just takes two words -- "Thank you." As rewarding as just about any other phrase.

ASK JUDITH & JIM

Dear Judith & Jim, 

My issue: I feel 'underloved' as my husband and I, married 21 years, make love and he does this totally in silence. It drives me crazy. Neither in the foreplay nor in the actual physical act does he say anything romantic or sweet, and while after it is 'over' he may say, "I love you," or 'you make it so good," that is about all I get as far as engaging my mind and spirit while engaging my body. I need this kind of affirmation and although sometimes I manage to feel fulfilled after lovemaking, I am left most of the time with that dull ache that something very big is missing and many times it bothers me so much I can't really enjoy the physical intimacy even though I crave it. I have asked my husband to say something to me, have tried to coax him in many ways, and he says he can't say things.

When I asked him if he could please try to speak to me as we make love, and say more loving things, he responded: "I don't know if those words can come out of my mouth." I cried, and felt crushed.

Now when we make love I feel as if an abyss of suffocating silence engulfs me and I am so distracted by it that I rarely can feel happy even when he is physically trying to please me. It is like a verbal divorce. I know you can't legislate romance but I am needing more of it in order to feel 'wholly loved' I am in a dead zone and feel such a sense of loss it permeates everything else I do. Please give me some suggestions, please explain or help me to explain to my husband why this need is so great in me.

Your newsletters have been inspiring and helpful. Please help. 

Underloved

Dear Underloved,

First we want to acknowledge your need to have your mind and spirit engaged as well as your body. In that way, all of the dimensions of your being can be involved.

Now, you've been together 21 years. Your letter implies that silent lovemaking has been going on for your entire marriage. It would be easy to ask "Why didn't you leave." But, we understand that, when two people love one another, they'll go a long way to rationalize, excuse, analyze, whatever it takes to keep their disappointments from disrupting that love.

You say you've talked with him and asked him to change. So you have brought your needs to the table. Nevertheless, you have been co-creating your lovemaking and it is the way it is with your approval. Otherwise, you would have left, or had an affair or done something to register the depth of your disappointment.

So, you must make it clear that this may bring your marriage to an end. After all, the "verbal divorce" is already underway. The spiritual divorce will follow and then so may the legal one. Does he understand the significance of your hurt? 

But, before you talk with him again, and you must, what is missing in you that so needs to hear words from him. Please don't misunderstand, we're not going to make this just your internal problem. Love talk is very important. But, how have you not been "wholly loved," such that you believe love talk would fill the emptiness? You call it an abyss of suffocating silence. An eloquent, poetic description. However, it's unlikely that his talking would fill it. Granted, it would at first. But how deep does that abyss go? What would it take to fill it?

Also, your unfulfilled need permeates everything. It's everywhere. That's far too big a response for the issue to be just his silence. There's more going on.

Your marriage has given you the opportunity to look into the abyss. That must be your first move. Look into it and focus beyond his silence. What do you find? We suspect you haven't been talked to for a very long time -- in a way that recognized you for who you are. That's where the emptiness resides and it began long before you met your husband. You need to have your mind and spirit engaged has been with you since forever. Some of it comes from your culture. Some of it stems from being a woman, and women have not been valued for who they are for centuries. Some of it is hidden in the way your family treated you as a girl as well as an individual. See if you can sort out the elements of your emptiness. Because, you want words-during-sex to do the job. They won't. They can't. They're just words endearing and caring as they may be, they can't fill an emptiness of soul. 

Also, once you have a view of the landscape of your emptiness, then you can address your husband with what part of it he contributes to and what he can actually do. We believe he is sensing the weight of what you're asking and is unconsciously retreating from the impossibility of it. 

Enlist him into your need, not for words, but for being whole. Ask him for what he can actually do given who he is. The rest is yours to deal with.

Thank you for your courageous letter and we'd like to know what happens.

© 2001 The New Intimacy

May 21-27


When we fall in love, we consciously or unconsciously take on some of the qualities, traits or behaviors we admire in the one we love. We do that overtly by actually saying something like, "I'm impressed with how you do that. Show me."

 JIM: One day Judith sent me an email and some of the text we italicized, some was bold, some underlined. I didn't know that was possible. I rushed in to her office asking, "How did you do that?" She smiled like a Cheshire Cat and said, "Like this." I enjoy it when she discovers something and then shares it with me. My loving endearment is in asking her to show me because it is an expression of my respect for her.

Sometimes we take on our partner's qualities without saying a word. 

JUDITH: When Jim is faced with a problem, he can be very patient and methodical. He keeps trying one approach after another until he finds the one that works. By comparison, I would get frustrated and give up long before he even thinks about it. Watching him has taught me a value in patience I hadn't anticipated -- that is, the sense of self-respect and confidence inherent in calmly proceeding until the problem is solved.

Although these examples of loving endearments are not in the form of gifts or gestures, they are deeply loving because they affirm the one we love by taking something of them into our self.

ASK JUDITH & JIM

Dear Judith & Jim,

My boyfriend of two years suddenly has a problem with my weight. I haven't lost or gained any weight since we've been together but recently all I've been hearing is you need to start exercising more and you need to lose a little weight. This has been going on for the past few months and we haven't been out anywhere together since. I don't understand why I'm so unattractive to him now -- yet I haven't changed.

Should I lose weight to please him and keep our relationship going. Or should I just let him go? I really love him but our relationship seems to be going nowhere due to my weight. Please help. 

Dear Please,

Your relationship may be going nowhere, but it is not due to your weight. So, first of all, take that burden off your back. If you are the same weight now as you were at the beginning, something else is going on. 

What's happened in the past few months that has tilted the balance? Think back to when his problem with your weight began and try to identify what might have thrown him. Could it be something at work, with his family, or something else between you? Did you do or say something that might have hurt him?

Also, have there been any clues in your past that indicate he was displeased with your weight? What we're saying is, have you been blind and in denial? Disruptions like the one you describe are never unilateral unless a person is mentally unbalanced.

Finally, no -- you should not lose weight to keep the relationship, nor should you let the relationship go at this time. You need to find out what's going on for his sake as well as yours. If you don't, you will not only carry this mystery as a burden, you will not learn from it -- so that you can prevent it from happening again.

Let us know what you find out.

© 2001 The New Intimacy

May 14-20


Loving cooperation doesn't take much. Just an awareness of your partner's likes and dislikes.

Every afternoon at about 5 PM we walk down the road to feed the horses, we take them carrots, mostly, but also delectable scraps we've accumulated over several days.

One horse, Baron, is aggressive. We have to be careful with our fingers. The other horse, Magic, is very delicate. He won't take another carrot until he's chewed and swallowed the first. Baron stuffs his mouth and cannot accept anything more because its full.

JIM: I know Judith is cautious when it comes to feeding the horses. So we've decided she gets to feed Magic and I feed Baron. When I prepare the carrots, I cut them into long portions for Judith so that her fingers are nowhere near his teeth.

JUDITH: Jim didn't tell me he was doing that until I noticed the portions he cuts for Baron are much shorter. That's because hefeeds Baron from an open palm. I was very touched with his concern for my comfort.

JIM: I also don't have the same trouble Judith has with Baron slobbering all over my hand.  Cooperation, in this case, manifests as long carrot portions. That's all. No big deal and yet very meaningful and romantic, in a down-to-earth way.

Just pay respectful and caring attention to your partner. Cooperation can easily flow from there.

ASK JUDITH & JIM

Dear Judith & Jim,

I have been married for 27 years to a very attractive lady, wonderful mother, and responsible woman. I have been a workaholic for the first 25 years but during the last two years worked to rebuild the relationship. I believe my lovely wife cannot believe or refuses to believe this change is for real. We have discussions that communicate to me the lack of her trust - often hearing examples of my past offensive behavior. I have been impatient in wanting to improve the relationship, attempting to get agreement on the definition of a good relationship and setting goals to achieve success. Her resistance to the change feels overwhelming some days. What can I do to demonstrate my reawakening of the priority and importance of our relationship ... and receive her trust again?

Dear Workaholic,

With all due respect and admiration for your determination to change, you can't approach your relationship like business meaning you can't get "agreements" like contracts and "set goals" like production schedules. That would be like telling a rose -- now that we've agreed you are a rose, now I expect five blossoms and I expect them in two weeks. 

Relationships are organic, they take whatever time they need and they develop, not in a straight line, but by attending to whatever needs attention at any given moment. That means your biggest challenge will be to learn a different kind of success and, of course, a different way of achieving it. 

Though she may not be able to articulate it, your wife may be suspicious because she senses your take-charge approach and knows that's not the way. She may be missing your sincerity because of your method. And, to make it clear, if the method is not consistent with what your relationship needs, your sincerity, though commendable and utterly necessary will not be enough.

To demonstrate your reawakening we suggest: That she may have to lead initially in your reconciliation. That's because you must relax your goal-oriented approach in favor of a more fluid way of being. And she may not know what to do. Her misapprehension may close down her heart and her imagination. So we suggest either you get some counseling, because there is much you have to learn about living with flux and the unknown, and we suspect she does as well. And we suggest you read our book, "The New Intimacy," to give you a vision of how your differences are going to be the source of what you are looking for. And Deborah Tannen's "You Just Don't Understand" will give you a vision of the differences between the ways men and women communicate.

Also, your sincerity must extend to an internal reorganization. You have to create a new view of how to be in the world, how to be with her. You may want to look for a men's group in which you can learn from the other men, have a place to express your frustrations and fears, test new feelings of tenderness and vulnerability without fear of being unmanly, and as a gesture to your wife, of your sincere commitment. 

She's been with you for 25 years. Because of that, she has habits that will have to change. After all, she was attracted to and married you when you were a workaholic. Some part of the emotional distance you shared has been to her liking even if she's not aware of that. Please keep in mind that what you want is turning those 25 years upside down. You will need patience. As a matter of fact, patience must become your greatest asset, because you are changing life, not production quotas, and life has a mind of its own.

Take our respect and support with you and let us know how it goes.

© 2001 The New Intimacy

May 7-13


Even the silliest things can become loving endearments, including your own personal language of affection.

JIM: Every now and then I say something to Judith like: "You know what I was thinking?" or "You know what happened just a few minutes ago?" or "You know what I'd like to do?"

JUDITH: I always smile and say "No."

JIM: And I get stopped in my tracks, made aware that, in each instance Judith had no way of knowing because my question was a prelude to telling her.

JUDITH: Every time Jim stops, he realizes what he's done and laughs from his belly. And then I laugh with him and we enjoy each other.

This routine still happens on occasion. It's always completely spontaneous and we laugh every time.

Loving endearments can arise from any situation if your heart is open to your lover and you remain aware just how charming our human foibles can be.

The New Intimacy

When you hear the word "intimacy," what comes to mind?

Many people imagine sex and some imagine emotional closeness as they make love.

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.

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. What would you add to the list? Send us your thoughts and we will publish them as we receive them. [let us know if you want your name included]

Ask Judith & Jim

Dear Judith and Jim,

I am 44 years old, recently divorced after 14 years, and I have just started dating. I live in Southern California. There are so many people here. It isn't difficult meeting people, but very difficult to make lasting bonds. Most of my friends are married with children. We all lead hectic lives. I find that I am now alone a great deal. I have been very sad and I'm not wanting to burden my friends with my heaviness. I know it ultimately pushes them away. I am a constant reminder of what could happen to them.

I have to work a great deal in order to maintain my lifestyle. I'm not extravagant, but this is an expensive place to live. I am always exhausted. I go to the gym twice a week and to the dog park with my dog every weekend. I talk to people wherever I go. I've been meeting men through internet dating services. So far I haven't met anyone I'd want to get to know better except for one man who I later learned was seeing someone else, but didn't bother to tell me that at the outset. Most of these men were just unattractive to me physically, and I need that sexual chemistry to be there. Others were not attractive because of their personalities. It is an arduous process. Now I've decided to join some singles groups because the dating thing is very time consuming and frustrating. I never thought I'd find myself in this position. There are some aspects of being single that are quite appealing, but for the most part, I am happiest when I have a partner to do things with. The funny thing about this is that I am a marriage counselor as well as a clinical psychologist. I counsel people about relationships all the time. I think being single is a lot better than being in the wrong sort of relationship. I see plenty of bad relationships in my practice. I am just so sad. With my energy in this sad space, I know I can only attract disaster. I feel pretty deflated. Any suggestions? I want this to be a better year.

Thanks. Sad

Dear Sad,

We lived in Los Angeles and know how hard it can be to be single there, let alone divorced and looking to find a deep connection.

Also, it's interesting how those of us who counsel relationships can get just as lost as anyone else when it comes to our own. We thank you for your unabashed honesty and respect your sense of self which must be strong for you to be comfortable revealing what many people might think is a sign of weakness because it shouldn't be happening to someone who helps others with their relationships as her profession.

As you know, when we love someone, we form psychic patterns of attachment, dependency, and comfort as well as weave our sense of self with theirs. That is what a relationship is -- a weaving of two selves into a Third self which is the unique co-creation of your being together. That is a real entity, the Third, the container that you two built together, into which you invested your then current and also your future life. It is no different than a building with its steel superstructure, its brick or stone exterior, its particular internal configuration and design. So when a relationship ends, as yours recently has, those psychic patterns and weavings do not come apart just because there's been a divorce decree.

It doesn't even matter if the relationship was horrible and perhaps even abusive (which we are not suggesting yours was), the bonds we form take time to relax and let go. You know it as the grieving process, but that only relates to the sense of loss. The coming-apart has its own calendar, its own needs, and it invariably requires time and solitude. When we rush that process, we do not learn what the moment has to teach and necessarily force ourselves back into who and how we used to be just to relieve the tension. It is difficult to sit in the unknown and listen, but that is our first suggestion. It appears you need more time.

That's not to say don't date. But please don't date with the objective of finding a partner. Rather date with the purpose of discovering who you are now and what you need to do to embrace yourself, which will ultimately attract the man who wants to embrace the you you discover.

Also, your concern about driving your friends away. Is that something you've discussed with them or is that speculation? It feels like the latter to us and we urge you to find out of it is true. If you bravely and gracefully go through this time of sadness, you may not be a threatening reminder to them but rather a courageous and compassionate guide in the event they experience loss -- not necessarily divorce, any kind of loss. As you know, few people deal with loss well because we busy ourselves with denying it by finding someone or something else to fill in the emptiness.

Sadness is hardly empty. It can be the passageway to a depth you hadn't even yet imagined. Respect it. Honor it. And yes, endure it -- but with your arms as open as you can keep them.

Let us now what you discover.

© 2001 The New Intimacy

April 30-May 6


When you learn something about your partner, what exactly does that mean?

Most people understand the experience of learning to mean gaining information. Through experience or study, we take something in we did not have before. Whatever we acquire becomes fixed in the mind and a permanent part of who we are.

For example, as a child you learned the alphabet, or the multiplication tables, or spelling. Then you could use what you learned in any way you desired.

But that doesn't quite capture what it means to learn something about your lover, does it? There is something more involved. But what?

When you open yourself to your partner and take in something about him or her, that is learning, right? But more deeply, your openness is your signal that you stand ready to be changed. The connection between you becomes a channel for the transfer of feelings, thoughts and energy. You enter your partner's world and incorporate his or her point of view. If you didn't, learning would not be possible. So, learning also means you are willing to be changed. That doesn't necessarily mean a large change. Often change between intimates is subtle. But there is change nonetheless. 

Here's an example.

Imagine two different paints, each a different color. When they are mixed, the colors blend to make an entirely new color. It's the same way with learning. Two perspectives blend to make a new point of view, a new understanding.

JIM: Judith is very knowledgeable about vitamins and herbs. I never paid attention to them before I met her. Now I take them regularly. Not to satisfy her. I have learned from her the value of a regular regimen of supplements and I feel much better for it. In fact, I am now someone I was not before I met her.

Another image for what it means to learn is that of a salad. You mix shredded carrots and zucchini, greens, salt, pepper, fresh grated ginger and garlic, currants, lemon and oil. Toss them and the result is something that no one ingredient could be alone. Unlike the blend of paints, in a salad none of the different components lose their individuality. They remain distinct.

JUDITH: I've always like being very practical. Whatever I wrote always had a "hammer and nails" quality to it. From Jim I've learned that prose can be written poetically and that makes it very beautiful without losing it's practical qualities. I never imagined that was even possible before Jim. 

When two lovers truly listen to one another, creativity is stirring. They have entered into the process of making something new. So to listen is to be open to change.

Learning is the process of accepting and adapting what is new, and allowing it to change you. You've taken in a "piece" of your partner and made it your own.

As you both listen and learn from one another, you validate and value each other as you both fill out more of the story you are co-creating.

One final image. Imagine throwing a pebble into a pond. On the surface nothing seems to have changed. But in fact, it is not the same pond it was a moment before.

When we open to receive what our partner has to offer, we may not look different on the surface, but we are changed. We've listened and learned and the connection between us grows ever more intimate.

In this sense, learning and loving are synonymous. You can't have one without the other.

ASK JUDITH & JIM

 Dear Judith & Jim,

 I am deeply in love with a man who has been divorced 2-1/2 years. We are not married, but we live together in the house he shared with his wife of 20 years along with his two teenage sons. It is sometimes difficult for me to live surrounded by so much of their history, but I am gradually incorporating myself into the house. What I find the hardest to accept is that he wants to continue some of the "rituals" they as a family shared with friends--in the summer, it's camping on the weekends with the same friends. Sometimes the ex-wife goes with the same friends (but fortunately, only when we're not there.) I want him to maintain his friends and activities, but when we do these things I feel like I'm a replacement and am in "their" relationship instead of ours. Is it petty or trivial of me to want to establish our own rituals, traditions and activities? Thank you for your help. --The "new" woman

Dear "New" Woman,

While we appreciate the challenge of moving into a ready made family and their rituals, it's now time for you to become a "new woman" instead of the "new" woman.

Your challenge at the level of identity is to grow out of any notion that you are a "replacement" for anyone or anything. You must have your own value in your own right, and it's time to establish your own relationship with his friends on your terms, not his former wife's, whatever that may mean.

You must challenge yourself, hopefully with your lover's support, to outgrow whatever insecurity has raised its yammering head and is screaming at you from within.

And by all means, do develop and establish your own rituals and traditions and activities. You must in order for your relationship to reflect who the two of you are, rather than just duplicating what has already been -- in which case why did he bother to divorce. 

If your lover objects to you becoming a more active partcipant in your life together, then you will have to address whether or not it is you he actually loves and wants to live with, or whether he is still emotionally married to his former wife. 

We wish you courage in breaking out of your prison of insecurity and wisdom in determining if this is the relationship for you.

© 2001 The New Intimacy

April 23-29
Loving Endearments


Sometimes a loving endearment can take the form of doing nothing. Last week we were in Rome.

JIM: On the flight over, I came down with the flu fever and chills through the whole six hour flight. When I'm ill I like to be left alone. After Judith initially asked if there was anything she could do and offered aspirin which I took, she read and slept and left me to my own disquiet. When we arrived, Friday morning, I went directly to the bathtub and immersed myself. 

JUDITH: I knew the best love I could show Jim was to let him be, so I went out in search of lunch. I had a marvelous time. The city was alive and vibrant, the people were open and expressive, and I knew that in choosing Rome we'd made the perfect choice. I could already feel something special was happening and would continue to happen. When I returned, Jim was awake and I shared my experience.

JIM: I was thrilled for her. I knew the flu was more than just a bug. I was going though some kind of cleansing and I too could feel the specialness of being in Rome.

JUDITH: In fact, we were apart some of the time through Sunday night, in that Jim was in bed much of the at time and I went out alone quite a bit. We knew we had one another's complete support to do whatever was right for each of us without demanding that we be any other way but the way we were. Finally, Monday Jim was well again and we had a week filled with awe and a sense of grace.

JIM: Had we not let each other be, in other words, had we tried to make things different than they were, we would have made each other miserable. 

As we said, sometimes a loving endearment can take the form of doing nothing.

The New Intimacy

When you think of intimacy, what's the first image that comes to mind? For some people, it's sex. For others it's deep communication. For others it can be the pristine stillness of a mountain lake. What about feeling intimate with those who lived in the past, say five or six hundred years ago? No, we're not talking about time travel, at least not in the science fiction sense.

Last week we visited a number of churches and cathedrals in Rome. Some of those churches dated back to the 13th and 14th centuries, magnificent structures that the people use for a variety of worship services. There are the famous ones Saint Peter's Basilica, the cathedral of Saint Maria Maggiore, the Church of Saint John Lateran. But, one afternoon we stumbled into the Chiesa del Gesu and were literally struck with powerful awe, so much so that we could do nothing but stand and gape.

As in all the churches, the walls and ceiling were covered with extraordinary frescoes, alive with compelling and resounding colors. There was such a throbbing and vital life depicted in the pictures, but even more so in the consciousness they exuded, the spirit of the times in which they were painted. 

What struck us was how visceral the paintings were. Fleshy bodies, vivid colors, pulsing gestures, and an enthusiasm that radiated like light. There was no way we could have not felt the excitement and fervor of the artists whose genius emanated from their work as much last week as when it was done hundreds of years ago. Those men were still alive and we could feel them.

Yes, their scenes were all religious. That was the content of the times. But more so, their excitement, their vision, their joy and their love burst through their work and filled us. We were in contact. We wondered what their lives must have been like and they told us, not through the religious details, but through the wonder and ecstasy they must have experienced to communicate with the power they did. 

We were transported into their experience and both of us, independently, felt a sense of being lifted off. That is a form of intimacy.  

Intimacy is a doorway into the abundance of life. You can experience that abundance sexually, emotionally, intellectually, spiritually and you can experience it with those who have lived and passed on if they have left behind something into which they invested their heart and soul. 

Please don't assume that intimacy is limited to just you and your beloved. Expand your vision of what is possible and, when you do, the intimacy between you and the one you love will be deepened, sweetened and enriched because you will bring to it the currents of the vastness of life itself. 

Ask Judith & Jim

Dear Judith & Jim, 

I have questions about attracting a life partner, but I am not sure where to begin. I now have been single for about four years. First of all I am an artist supporting myself with a very satisfying and enriching job. I work for a nonprofit arts related organization and I am also an active volunteer for the symphony and the theater. In my spare time I paint and am on the board of two art groups.

My family connections are healthy and happy. I have four happily married children and nine grandchildren. I am only 68 years old and would love to be able to share the rest of my life with a partner. My first marriage was very happy but short. I was widowed at age 23. My second marriage lasted 25 years and ended in divorce due to my husband's mental illness. Since that marriage ended I have not been able to attract someone into my life who would be a suitable partner for me. 

What questions could I answer that would help you to help me? I have done a lot of personal and spiritual growth work and have completed one year toward my master's degree in psychology. All that work has resulted in some great strides in my own maturity. Now I would like to share my life in a happy, healthy and loving relationship. 

I would appreciate any insights you may have to share. 

Thank you! J. 

Dear J,

First of all, thank you for your letter. Since one of our objectives is to create a forum in which people can learn from others, we appreciate your opening a window onto the desire for a fulfilling love after 65, as well as the fact that the maturing process does not end at some age. It continues.

You say "What questions could I answer that would help you to help me?" We'd like to turn that around and offer you a list of questions that may help you attain the relationship you desire. Please take these questions seriously and use them to shine a light on the way you've organized your self such that you are having trouble attracting someone. You appear to be a very appealing woman with a wonderful life to share with someone. So...

In what way were you frightened by the untimely death of your first husband and the mental illness of your second? Those are extraordinary experiences. What decisions did you make about love, its stability, trustworthiness, fairness, and even its meanness perhaps? Have you unconsciously withdrawn to protect yourself from being undone again? 

What do you mean by "suitable?" Given the circumstances of your life, does suitable mean unable to shock you again? Does it mean insulated from the unexpected? We are not saying that someone shouldn't be suitable. But, check out what you need from the idea of someone's being suitable? 

You have made great strides in your own maturity, but have you made similar strides in your capacity to bring someone into your heart or, rather, make space in your heart to receive someone? You say you would like to share your life, but do you? Given that you paint, and work in the community, and the like, you seem capable of manifesting what you go after. What about being with someone do you resist? You don't seem to be someone who is dedicated to longing or sentimentality, so what have you decided about being with someone that keeps that someone from appearing?

Also, are you sure you want to be with someone? Have you asked and answered that?

Please take the time to meditate on these questions as an entryway into your own psyche. You will no doubt run into burls of coiled resistance, fear, hurt, confusion that have to do with being with someone and we hope you can unravel what you find. Given how you've described yourself, we trust you can, and then the desire to share your life will be more that a wish, it will become a reality.

© 2001 The New Intimacy

April 16-22


By referring to mystery, we're not talking about that which is difficult, perhaps very difficult, but in due time is explainable. Rather, we mean the deep, rich and beguiling unknown that is a backdrop for this life we all share.

Late December into early January is that time when we in the northern hemisphere celebrate the miraculous. The miracle takes a variety of forms. 

Some celebrate nature's receding into the dark underground to slumber near the root of its own regeneration.

Others sing about the birth of a redeemer, the ManGod whose arrival is a marvel that draws even kings to his cradle.

Still others feel the need to reflect on the year past to cleanse themselves of wrongdoing and to make amends to those they've wronged. 

When this time of year is taken seriously, the awesome mystery of life cannot be avoided.  

There is yet another mystery that is very near. It awaits us in the presence of the one we love. Imagine it, this other person, almost a entire universe in his or her own right, a soul-radiance that continues to unfold before our very eyes. How more wonder-filled can that be? And the magic in the mystery, which reveals itself when we open to it, when we relax into it, is that suddenly all living things become a miracle, especially those with whom we are most intimate.

Give the gift of your full attention and allow yourself to be moved by the miracle of the one you love. You'll find that the lush mystery of simply being alive is poised, waiting to resound through you, through both of you, like a chorus of angels. 

From us to you and those you love, the joy of the season and the wish that you be touched by the mystery and miracle of this time of the year. 

ASK JUDITH & JIM

Dear Judith & Jim,

In your Nov 3 newsletter, concerning Judith hating the mice and Jim putting Bounce in the drawers to help keep them away so she'll be more comfortable, my concern's not the mice but the issue being the size of a mouse. In other words, don't sweat the small stuff.

If every concern is as big as the mouse situation, reacted to as tho it were the house being broken into by thieves or the house is on fire,. when the time comes to deal with the house being on fire or the thieves having broken in, or your partner has an affair or a loved one dies, where do you find the resources within to respond out of love and concern when you're all out of gas from responding to the nonconsequential things in life? 

It seems to be all the nonconsequential things of life that inhibit intimacy to begin with. Yet, you are suggesting it's through these things that we can build intimacy. 

If these things aren't being reacted to as the major issues of life, I would concur that that could be possible. It seems that my situation isn't so. Or perhaps I'm trying to lay claim to ground where there are a lot of people dealing with the same conditions. 

Paul 

Dear Paul,

We entirely agree that, if what you call nonconsequential things in life are being continuously overreacted to and turned into melodrama, then someone is crying wolf and setting up the eventuality of being ignored when real trouble arises. But there are deeper issues. 

The person who is crying wolf has lost the ability to distinguish between what is meaningful and what is not. That is an agonizing way to live, always at the verge of catastrophe, constantly incapable and, like a child, in need of support. There is also the unconscious threat of being harangued for being a fraud and creating unnecessary stress.

Furthermore, the person who cries wolf lives with a chaotic inner life, not only unpredictable but dangerous and they can't get out. The feelings of alarm are powerfully compelling and they cannot be shut off. So there is no safe ground, certainly not from those around who have taken to not believing the cries any longer. But more importantly, such a person cannot take refuge inside because that is the center of and real source of the threat and that no one can do anything about let alone disarm. They are locked in to themselves and locked out from others and lost in a world of terror and hurt. Intimacy is not possible with such a person because contact with is never truly available to them.

With regard to Judith and the mice, she hated having to re-wash the silverware, dishtowels and other kitchen sundries every time the mice left their pellet calling cards. The thought of having to be at the mercy of mice in a country home she otherwise deeply loved was getting to be too much. That wasn't a molehill. It looked like it might become a mountain. So, when Jim put the Bounce (fabric softener) in the drawers, he wasn't trying to quell hysteria. He was dealing with a serious issue. By the way, the Bounce has worked. The mice have not returned. 

You say that your situation is one in which these things are being reacted to as the major issues of life. That must be very distressing because you cannot help but be destabilized or you've taken to not paying any attention. Either way, the possibility of intimacy is diminished in direct ratio to the frequency of the false cries of danger. Where do you get the resources to respond out of love? From a deeper understanding of what the other person is truly living with, and we hope we've shed some light on that kind of inner life. Otherwise, you can only be drained of care and affection until there is nothing left and you must shut off. At that point you must make some decision about your relationship with the other person -- with your own well being as your first concern.

We wish you well. Your situation is not an easy one, nor is it uncommon.

© 2001 The New Intimacy

April 9-15


What makes a romantic moment truly romantic? Is it a gift? Well, perhaps. But haven't you received a gift from your lover that was nice but not romantic?

Is it what is said to you? Sure, it can be. But hasn't the one you love ever said something to you that was sincere but, as far as romance goes, left something more to be desired?

What is that something more we desire that makes romance so enchanting?

If you think about it, when a gift, or when something said really touches you, isn't it because it is in tune with who you are? You feel seen and loved for being you. You feel, without saying it, that "He really knows me." or "She's really paid attention." There is a sweet sense of connection. Not that you are merged into a siamese oneness. That would be crippling for both of you. But that you are individuals, each with a sense of yourselves and you are a couple at the same time. You are truly together, in the fullest sense of that experience.

Remember back when you were a kid and had a best friend. You got excited together. Fell down laughing together. Explored together. Got scared together. You were friends of each other's being. You were emotionally available to one another giving without hesitation, even when you fought. You were open and unencumbered.

Isn't that what we feel when we are enchanted in a moment of romance? That sweet openness.

Not that you should want to be a kid again. There is a season for everything and we must respect when a season passes.

As adults, when we feel seen, through and through, emotionally, spiritually, physically and intellectually, we know our partner has had to take the time and make the effort to want to know us.

JIM: Recently, Judith and I were out doing errands and we stopped for lunch. She was finished and I wasn't. And I was still reading the newspaper.

JUDITH: I knew he likes to read the paper. All we had left to do was grocery shopping, which I enjoy. So I told him I would finish the shopping and he could stay and finish his lunch and paper.

JIM: I was willing to go with her but I saw she was sincerely generous in offering me the opportunity to stay behind. I felt completely seen and respected and was deeply moved. She had given me the free gift of her appreciation. I was charmed for the rest of the day.

A tiny, unextraordinary moment, filled with romance and now unforgettable.

Romance is free, generous and emotionally open. It illuminates your connection. It gives voice to your love. And it need not be grand. Quite the contrary, romance often comes in the smallest of packages.

To keep romance alive, you must remain alive. You must see, hear, be curious, share, want to know, want to be known, and above all receive. Receive the freedom. Receive the appreciation. Receive the thing you want to be loved for who you are.

ASK JUDITH & JIM

 

Dear Judith & Jim,

I'm a 23 year old female and I ended an abusive relationship 8 months ago. I should have left sooner. I knew he was bad for me. A while ago, for the first time since the break up, another man showed interest in me. I found this very flattering. I will call him John. He is 28. John is a very nice person, everything boyfriend #1 was not. He is not violent, He is caring and considerate, hardworking, goes to church, and likes me for who I am.

The problem here is that about 4 years ago, he was in a serious relationship with a girl who left him for her career. Then, 8 months ago, his best friend committed suicide. John told me in the beginning that he couldn't have a serious relationship, he didn't think he was capable. We could see each other, but he wouldn't be able to do much more than that. I accepted this. Recently, we started a sexual relationship. Now I would like a little more commitment. John and I never go out, we always stay at my place. Usually this means we have sex. I have casually asked 3 times to go out, and he declined each time. I know John cares about me. He says things like he wishes he could really be with me.

I told myself after breaking up with #1 that I would not settle for a boyfriend, I would choose one. I don't want to sell myself short. I feel like I am too close to my emotions to see the big picture here objectively. Please help.

Confused

Dear Confused,

There are situations that require our being blunt. This is one of them.

Yes, you are confused. But not in the way you think.

You say John is "a nice person," yet when you ask to go out, he says no -- obviously not caring about your wishes. You say you know John cares about you. Why? Because he "says things like he wishes he could really be with me." But wishing is a way of making nice without have to follow through.

You are confusing the absence of overt abuse with "nice."

Please wake up!

You are being snookered and manipulated! He is using you for sex and a comfy home away from home. This is abuse by neglect. Do not worry about the pain of John's previous relationship and his friend's suicide. None of that is your responsibility. And John seems to be using it, in a "nice' way, to be sure he doesn't have to commit. But, at the same time, he's using it to seduce your into feeling responsible for him. Given your attraction to men who are abusive, overtly or in a nice way, you are susceptible to this kind of control.

You are selling yourself short.

First, we suggest you break off this non-relationship. Second, commit to finding out what is it in you that is so attracted to men who are not available. Whatever that is, it's putting blinders where your self-respect needs to be.

Please consider therapy as a means for sorting yourself out. And, until you do, be wary of the men you find attractive. In fact, until you do, you should not consider entering into a relationship, for your own self-protection.

Take good care of yourself and stop running a free rescue mission for John.

© 2001 The New Intimacy

April 2-8


Romance is erotic. Most people hear that and think sex. That's true and can be exquisite, but the erotic is more than sex. When we feel romance all of life becomes more sensual. We feel a intensity for just being alive. 

In romance, when the connection between two people stirs them, they open not just to themselves but to an experience of the fundamental connection between all living things. 

It's been snowing here recently. Big, fluffy flakes that cover the whole tip of your nose. We've been walking in it, bundled up, big boots, holding hands.

JIM: Judith has never seen this kind of snowfall. I have. I am so thrilled to watch her marvel at how the snow collects on the fir branches.

Judith: The other night, the wind was howling, the snow was thick, and a three-quarter moon kept appearing out from behind the clouds. I couldn't believe it. Snow and moonlight! I couldn't get enough. 

Jim: I felt so alive watching her stare up at the moon as the snowflakes covered her face.

Romance takes us over when we realize that the one we're with has entered into our thoughts and imaginings. That can happen in an instant or take time. Then lovers bestow a special meaning on each other and that leaves room for no one else in their hearts.

There is literal chemistry. Natural chemicals flood the brain and we feel taken over and out of control. It's like a junior high crush, except that we are well past junior high. It is giddy and sweet and playful and very erotic both sexually as well as the hunger just to be together.

The body, then mind, the soul, the spirit, all uniting to sweep us off our feet.

But as we said last week, please understand that romance changes as you change. If you want to hold onto it, you will lose it for sure. If you let it take you up, thrill you, and then, when it subsides, be at peace knowing it will return, it will, tenfold.

Like everything else in life, romance is a process which is a mirror of your own life process. As we said, how romantic you are follows from who you are.

We will finish this topic of romance next week. Let us know what you think.

Ask Judith & Jim

Dear Judith & Jim,

I am a 43 year old woman, recently divorced from a man I thought I loved. We have two beautiful daughters, ages 5 and 13. I have known this man since I was 5 years old. We were married for 13 years and lived together for four years. He cheated on me for three years at the end, and I only found out by accident. 

My problem is moving on. He believes he is with his soul mate, and that was worth leaving the kids for. I have lost my faith in men and myself and I feel that men my age are only interested in women who look a certain way and don't have kids. I don't believe there is a soul mate out there for me, and if there is, I will never find him because by the time I finish working and taking care of kids, there is no time left for relationships. Or if I find a relationship, how would I know that I would not make the same mistake and get hurt again. I don't think I could survive another hurt like this one. 

Thanks for listening.

Lost in NYC 

Dear Lost,

Essential to moving on and not risking the same mistake please set your husband aside for a time and look at what you did that contributed to your marriage collapsing. A lot of people think that to ask you to do that is to blame the victim. Exactly the opposite. You cannot move on and will never be able to trust if your sole focus is on what he did and he's gone! 

First, infidelity never happens overnight unless you were living with a sociopath or psychotic. Infidelity is the reckless act that sits atop many, many, many moments of prior emotional cheating. Those times when neither one of you faced into the truth of some situation; when either of you took your complaints, concerns and your discontent to someone else, anyone else but to each other; when you both went outside the relationship for emotional satisfaction because you may have come to believe that there was no satisfaction possible within it.

You say you only found out about his infidelity by accident. Okay. But during those three years you know about, when you look back, weren't things different? Somehow? Didn't you sense any change? And what about the three years prior to that? None of us is so good an actor as to be impenetrable (unless, again, he was a thorough sociopath).

We're not saying you should blame yourself. This is not about blame but about understanding what happened. What do you know about how things were between you that explains what happened? If you want to move on, you have to make some sense out of this. If you want to trust men again you will have to trust yourself again. You will have to know that you can trust yourself to be aware enough to question anything that you need answers for; that you will not mistrust your feelings and you will act on them, even if they turn out to be wrong. That is just a mistake and correctable. What is more deeply damaging is not acting on what you believe to be happening and cutting yourself off at your own knees.

And as long as you are committed to the notion that no man will want a 43 year old with two kids, no man will. It's true there are those that would never get involved with for the reasons you're concerned with. But it is also true that there are those who would and your reasons are standing in your way o\f being open to that possibility. Don't make it impossible by devoting yourself to your fears.

© 2001 The New Intimacy

March 26-April 1
Loving Endeadments


Love is a very big word. It can scare a lot of people because they don't know what it is. Is it a feeling? An action? Is it about saying something? Is love an idea? How people respond to the notion of love can identify their primary way of relating to life. Are they most comfortable with their feelings, thoughts or actions as they conduct the business of being alive? 

Well, love is a process that, at one time or another, will be expressed through all the possible ways we humans have to experience this life. 

A very loving endearment you can offer to yourself as well as the one you love (or will love) is the time and focus you give to understanding your most trustworthy and effective way(s) of relating to life. They are indications of how you love. 

JIM: For example, I have a philosophical bent of mind. So I can become very passionate about ideas. Ideas can arouse intense feelings in me. At times I need an intellectual grasp of something before I can let go and give myself to it. That's important for both Judith and I to know as we continually co-create our life together. 

JUDITH: Ideas don't mean as much to me as their practical expression. Whatever the idea -- say love, as an example I want to know what it will look like when someone is living it in their life.

We've shown one another value and excitement about the different ways we each feel most comfortable being alive and in that way have opened each other to becoming much larger than we were before we met.  

The time you take to understand your experience of love what it means and how you live it will be a gift to you and to the one you share your life with. The intimacy that emerges will be worth whatever effort you have to invest now.

The New Intimacy

The marriage ceremony asks two people to commit to loving each other "for better and for worse." It doesn't say "for better or for worse." That would mean they could choose one or the other. It says and, which means they commit to be together through both the light and dark side of whatever will come to them as they live into the future. 

Love wraps itself around a relationship and creates a space in which two people live. In that sense love is like gravity. It provides security, pleasure, freedom, comfort, strength, inspiration, openness, protection, care, joy, definition -- in other words, it is that which shapes and contains, responds to and directs, encourages and prods two people into what their relationship will become. 

Through love we bestow value on one another. Through lovewe challenge each other when we see something in the relationship than is less than it could be. Through love we imagine the future and create a vision that guides how we live day to day. Sometimes love is logical, reasonable, down-to-earth and practical. At other times it is wild, flooded with enthusiasm and anticipation. Sometimes we sense the Eternal. Then again love helps us appreciate the magic in the mundane. Love is at the basis of the attraction two people feel toward one another, fueling their desire to feel the oneness that lays quietly beneath the diversity we see and feel. Sometimes love whispers. Sometimes it roars. Sometimes it is a gentle nudge. Sometimes it's like a swift wind that wraps around us so that we can hardly stand in its presence. 

During the fourteen years we've been togther, we've never doubted the love we feel for one another and for the relationship we are co creating. There have been some very tough times. Enduring them love brought us closer togther. There have been times that felt light and free, like stones skipping across a smooth lake. Enjoying them, love was the sparkle that shone in so many thousand winks from the tips of the waves. There have been times when we've sat quietly, still, listening. Love was there in the silence, like a trusted ally who is there without any need to call attention 

Ask Judith & Jim

Dear Judith & Jim,

I have a new man in my life and the relationship seems quite promising except for one thing. We disagree about a lot of things because our perceptions are so different based on life experiences. We are of different races and totally divergent economic backgrounds. He grew up in a loving intact family and I was a victim of childhood sexual and emotional abuse in a very dysfunctional family. So we realize that our perceptions are very different based on race, gender, and economics. Every time we get into a disagreement we eventually, after a lot of screaming and harsh words, come to understand the other's point of view. He says I'm hardheaded and I tell him he's pigheaded so we are even. I would really like to figure out how to get to the understanding without the arguing. Any suggestions?

Feeling Embattled 

Dear Embattled One,

Your fighting has nothing to do with your backgrounds. If you continue to believe that you will just distract yourselves from the truth.

You are fighting because each of you becomes entrenched in your positions and each of you wants to win. So you battle to defeat the other until both of you are weary and then eventually you both make a choice for the relationship instead of for your own self-centeredness. 

Stop blaming your perceptions. That's a crutch. If your perceptions are so antithetical, then stop seeing each other. But that's not what you want to do. So, you're going to have to learn to fight constructively. 

The first rule of creative conflict resolution is to make the choice that the well-being of your relationship is your highest priority. You want the relationship to survive and be healthy. If so, you need each other to make that happen. There's no benefit in trying to vanquish your partner because that will not support the health of your relationship. It cannot survive if one of both of you feel defeated by the other. Nobody likes to lose and the loser eventually gets even. So fighting to win is pointless. 

If you are going to reach resolutions to your conflicts that benefit you both, you will need to know and understand each other's point of view so that neither one of you feels left out. Then, it's necessary to remove the distortion each of you brings to the situation. If there were no distortions there would be no conflict. Then each of you must recognize the value the other brings to the issue. Each of you has a piece of the truth and it must be recognized. So work with the truth, and keep your relationship as your top priority. You can then see your way to resolutions that are mutually beneficial and mutually respectful. Those are the only kinds of resolutions that will last. 

We urge you to get our book The New Intimacy and look at chapter 9. It is a detailed guide to solid and meaningful conflict resolution and fair fighting. No matter how good a relationship is, two people will crash into one another from time to time. If that crash leads to a fight, chapter 9 will show you how to make it creative and constructive and a spur to your emotional and spiritual growth together.  

Enjoy the differences and learn from them. That's practical spirituality!

© 2001 The New Intimacy

March 19-25


Most people want their relationships to support them and help them grow. That takes what we call "positive trust." Positive trust develops whenever two people share a commitment to the following experiences:

  • An acceptance of life's complexity and challenges;
  • An understanding of relationship as a co-created process;
  • Respect and value for the differences between the genders;
  • Feeling alive through the emotional risk-taking of intimacy;
  • Concern for the well-being of both you and your partner;
  • Responsibility for the growth and healing inherent in differences;
  • A willingness to be accountable for your dark side.

Positive trust grows as you deepen your commitment to living the full scope of who you are -- taking responsibility for your desires and disappointments.

Although it may sound like an oxymoron, "negative trust" is just as real. Negative trust develops whenever two people share a commitment to the following experiences:  

  • Bitter dissatisfaction with life;
  • Distrust of love;
  • Hatred and fear of the other gender;
  • Feeling alive through fighting or competition;
  • The need to win;
  • Martyrdom and suffering;
  • Self-hatred projected onto the other person.

The television sit-com, "Married With Children," which ran for eleven seasons, epitomizes negative trust. Husband and wife, Al and Peg Bundy, loathe each other. He rejects sex. She rejects work. Their life is built around trading insults and sexual put-downs.

The Bundys' don't believe they deserve better treatment, or else they couldn't put up with what they go through. Seeing nothing but disappointment with each other, Al and Peg mercilessly compare one another to other people or to their fantasies. 

Through it all they can trust each other, wholeheartedly and forever. They can count on one another's barbs, backbiting and disgust with certainty. They can depend on the predictability of being belittled. The Bundys are a model of negative trust. 

Here's how you can distinguish between positive and negative trust. 

  • Positive trust is expansive. Negative trust is restrictive.
  • Positive trust is open-hearted and generous. Negative trust is self-protective and punitive.
  • Positive trust embraces differences. Negative trust abhors them.
  • Positive trust is largely conscious. Negative trust is largely unconscious.
  • Positive trust grows in depth, appreciation, cherishment and sacredness.

Negative trust is stagnant, repetitive, emotionally miserly and deeply forbidding.

Positive trust is powerful and inclusive. As it grows, it can evolve into sacred trust. 

Sacred trust calls you beyond the everyday cooperation and consideration of positive trust. It's available when you're willing to follow your intuition into the unknown, into the untried. As you learn to respect and cherish the magic of differences, sacred trust opens right there in front of you. It is yours to develop and evolve. You and your partner discover it as you develop a deepening capacity for the four basic elements of positive trust:

  • Revealing your neediness and vulnerability;
  • Expressing your desires;
  • Opening to receive love;
  • Surrendering to a full commitment.

Through practice, you can create a consciously intimate relationship based on a caring connection that empowers the spiritual fulfillment of you both.

ASK JUDITH & JIM

Dear Judith & Jim,

I read your newsletter diligently every week and there's never been a time when you haven't touched on something I've been thinking.

After a long and painful marriage separation (still not final), I've met someone and we've managed to develop a solid foundation. We discussed my separation from the beginning. I wanted to see whether or not my history was a showstopper for her. It wasn't. During the time we've been together we've been open, honest, trusting and loving with one another.

The problem has to do with how our relationship histories affect our present life together. 

Recently, we went to a party and I noticed she was uneasy. She pointed to someone she had briefly dated. Only a couple of weeks. Meaningless in the big picture. I wasn't jealous but I didn't like having to confront her dating history right then and there.  

We left and went to a second party where the situation was entirely reversed. There was someone I'd briefly dated and ended badly. Up came unresolved anger from that relationship mixed with feelings from the first party. Surprisingly we had a good time despite all of the awkwardness.

The next day I brought it up to her. She told me she was also bothered. She also used the opportunity to tell me she was having trouble with my divorce not being final. We talked about the pain openly and honestly and ultimately drew closer. But I'm still troubled by how someone's past can come up and wreak havoc even in a relationship that's going well.

How do you dismantle the emotional impact of someone's past? Intellectually I understand we have been with other partners. But as our feelings grow and we become exposed and vulnerable, the other's past moves down from our heads into our hearts then our guts take over. I know it shouldn't matter, but somehow our hearts tell us it does. So how do you keep the past from invading the present? 

Wondering in Los Angeles

Dear Wondering, 

First, it's not the past that is "wreaking havoc." By your own admission, things turned out pretty well after your talk. So where's the havoc? 

In reality, there's no such thing as the past. What we call the past is a grouping of memories, images, feelings we draw up in the present. The point here is that you are not being invaded, you are conjuring out of your own psyche all the elements of your invasion. When you assume it is the past, you place the power outside yourself. Do that and you will surely feel like a victim, possessed by something out of your control. 

This particular part of your history is still very much alive in you. Unresolved anger is still percolating. Why is that? What do you need that is not satisfied? What wound are you carrying that is not closed? Before you will retract the power you've given to the "past," you must be honest with your assessment of what happened. You haven't been or the charge wouldn't be there.

When that situation is resolved, when you know what is keeping you bound to it, you will be able to place the past where it belongs, in the memory file of your psyche where the feelings will no longer be alive and you can no longer draw on them except as a lifeless memory. 

You cannot "dismantle" an emotional impact. You can integrate it. You can let it teach you about how you contributed to the event; what you did not see; what fantasy or expectation kept you blind; what you wanted that caused you to behave as you did. The more you know about yourself in that relationship the more you can accept both you and the woman involved. Then you can forgive and let it go into the lifeless memory file.

Yes it is risky to be "exposed and vulnerable." But no real love comes without risk. Rather than injecting your vulnerability with a reason from the "past," open to the risk and embrace the unknown. That's what's really at issue. The unknown. Old dates showing up unexpectedly leaving a stir of feeling in their wake. You can't protect against that. You can live through it with grace, elegance and maturity.

And finally, please don't mistake your heart for your anxiety. Your heart didn't tell you relationship histories should matter. Your heart brought you closer. And don't blame your head. You'll need it to sort through what happened and then choose to liberate yourself from your confusion. 

Simply said, we are vulnerable creatures. When we open we expose our soft emotional underbelly. Then we're frightened. But without that soft underbelly, magic would never be possible. We live with both. Ain't it grand!

© 2001 The New Intimacy

March 12-18


In response to our survey question what one thing do you most want to know about romantic relationships many of you said How to develop trust and respect. We will give our answer in this as well as next week's issue.

Trust is like a vine that wraps itself around and through every corner of a relationship. At first it is delicate, easily bruised or wounded. But over time it becomes strong and hearty and can withstand even the fiercest storms. Trust holds a relationship together.

But trust is not automatic. In a world where misgiving and doubt, suspicion and hesitation are common, trust must be cultivated and nourished. It must be strengthened through patience and sincerity and tested through direct and honest communication. When two people become conscious of their trust they can rely upon it to ensure their safety when they move out and explore the unknown or when they reveal the tenderest parts of themselves. When they realize how powerful their trust is, they can celebrate it, hallowing the weave, the intimate connection they have built between them.

Trust can never be immediate, no matter what you feel when you first meet someone. Real trust takes time. It needs to be tested. You have to open yourself, show your vulnerability and pay attention to how the other person responds. Even after marriage, trust needs to be tested, because many people think once they're married they can take each other for granted.

Maybe you're saying to yourself, You're not supposed to test someone. It's not nice. You should just trust people until you learn otherwise. Trust is something that you don't think about. You'll know it if it's there.

Many of us grow up accepting some version of these naive beliefs. But a solid, fulfilling and trustworthy relationship cannot be built on "nice."

When Judith was in graduate school one of her professors told his class, "Nice guys leave a wake of destruction in their path." He explained that when we're intent on being "nice," we avoid conflicts, and the problems only get worse. An attachment to "nice" will cloud your ability to see when someone is mistreating you or even being cruel and abusive.

The simple and inevitable truth of all relationships is that we are always teaching each other what to expect and how to behave. We make clear what we accept and what we refuse to put up with -- and we do that right from the first moment. That's what creates the shape and feel of a relationship and it is the basis of trust.

You have to be involved, emotionally connected and spiritually available -- as best as you can at all times. You have to show up, whether you're loving or angry, affectionate or wary, exposed and yielding or self-protected, ready to stand up for what you want. You have to confront your partner when she or he is out of line and require respectful, caring treatment. If you don't, you are not trustworthy to yourself. If you cannot trust yourself to take care of you, there is no way your relationship will find its way to a trust you can rely on.

We'll say more next week.

Ask Judith & Jim

Dear Judith & Jim,

I've been involved in what I take as a very serious relationship for 7 months. He's even asked me to marry him. Though I've said yes, I'm having my doubts. He has contact with all of his ex-girlfriends & has phone conversations with his ex-fiancée two & three times a day, but I'm not supposed to feel insecure about it.

I've tried to tell him how that makes me feel, but in his mind he feels justified because he's not having sex with them. One of his other ex-girlfriend's that he told me he still cares about buys him groceries all the time & he goes to her house to pick them up. I've tried to overlook a lot of the messages on the answering machine & all the late night phone calls, but it's getting harder & harder everyday.

I feel that I'm not woman enough to keep his attention, that he has to have several other females to take up my slack. I don't know what to do anymore, it's getting to the point that I'd rather be by myself than put up with all this unnecessary drama. Any solutions?

Dear Looking for Solutions,

The solution is within you and within your willingness to re-think that the problem is "I'm not woman enough." You've put this guy on a pedestal and then blinded yourself to his desperate neediness.

The solution is for you to wake up, take the blinders off and stop ignoring the phone messages, his seemingly insatiable need for a harem and his disregard for your feelings. We understand this won't be easy -- since you doubt your own value and have said yes to his marriage proposal. But, what you describe has nothing to do with love and everything to do with how incomplete you both feel.

Only if he is willing to stop the daily phone calls with his ex, the grocery gifts from the other ex and bring his allegiance into an intimate, emotional monogamy with you, do the two of you have any kind of a chance.

If he refuses to change, he is more loyal to his past then to you. And if he refuses to change, we hope you'll have the self-respect to leave.

Meanwhile, where did you learn that you are responsible for everything that goes wrong? It's there that you are stuck.

© 2001 The New Intimacy

March 5-11


We are in the process of writing our third book. Judith is the lead writer for this book and Jim does the editing and first re-write. It's a method that works well for us. Both points of view are integrated so that neither of us feels left out.

Jim: Two days ago I approached Judith for clarification with regard to a phrase she'd written. I didn't know what she was saying. Specifically, she'd used the word "possessive." The context was of no help and so I needed to talk with her.

Judith: I tried to explain what I was doing, but from Jim's point of view, he thought the word "insistent" was more appropriate. We went back and forth a bit and it was clear we weren't getting anywhere except more and more frustrated. 

We were each embedded in our own worlds, trying to convince the other of the rightness of our position. Rather than being separate, we were isolated, detached and stuck, and in a very real sense, invisible to one another. We were unable to respect that the two words, possessive and insistent, were not a mere problem of semantics, but they represented our subtle yet very different experiences of the phrase we were arguing over.

As curious as it may sound, it takes two to be separate. Only one to be isolated. When we realized that what we had to be talking about was our two distinct experiences rather than the meaning of words, we were able to see what the other meant. We still didn't agree, and, in that sense, remained distinct, but we were connected in our appreciation of the other's individuality. We still haven't solved the problem, but now it's only a problem of deeper understanding until we can walk in each other's shoes enough to create the unity that will reveal the best way to say what we both want said. Whatever it is, it won't be something either one of us could have come up with alone. It will be mutual, an expression of the intimacy we will have created together. 

A relationship cannot be successful unless there are two distinct persons recognizing each other across the ways they are different.. Otherwise there are only two isolates cohabiting the same space. 

Do not fear the differences between you. Embrace them. Sometimes they will cause friction and even conflict. But if you hold the well being of your relationship as your first priority, you will need each other to create what you have. Then your relationship will truly reflect who you both actually are in the mutual endeavor you have committed to. And in that sense, there will be a separation, an acknowledgment that the one you love is an other, a separate being, full in his or her own integrity, a thrill to love and be loved by. 

ASK JUDITH & JIM

 Hi!

 I have been a subscriber to your newsletter for a few months now and absolutely LOVE it. Although I am not in a relationship now, I have been getting tons of great advice to put to use in my next relationship! I wanted to ask you a question.

I have been trying to get over someone for awhile now, and realized that it is not really him I can't let go of but a part of his personality that reminds me of my mother. Now that I have identified what it is that I can't let go of, what do I do next? Can I go back to the past and recreate my memories, substituting what I needed to receive but didn't? I really just would like to know what to do once I have identified what it is I am so attracted to and can't let go of. Thanks a lot, and keep up the great work with the newsletter!! 

Looking to Let Go

Dear Looking,

First of all, substitution never works. When we want something and can't have it, we often put a substitute in its place. But because the substitute is only marginally satisfying at best, and we can't have the real thing, we crave more of the substitute. But the more we get the farther we are from what we really want, making the substitute even less satisfying. And now we're trapped in a loop of not being able to get enough of what we don't really want. That's a Catch 22 of the first order.

Okay, you've identified a trait, or an attitude, something that has mother ingrained in it. Congratulations! But you can't let go of it because it has meaning and value for you. It's clear you don't have trouble letting go as such. You let go of the person in your last relationship. So you are not focusing on what counts.

What is it about your mother that you still need? How old is the part of you that still needs it? Can you give it to yourself?

A word of caution. Before you can give it to yourself, you will have to accept that it is never, NEVER, going to come from your mother in the way that that part of you needs it to be. What's done is done. You will have to grieve and accept that she did not do whatever was necessary at the time and, unless she was willfully abusive, she did all she knew to do. If you can reach that state, then forgiving her will be feasible and you can stop trying to get what you can't have. Then, when you give it to yourself it will not be a substitute but the real thing in the only and best way it is available. Then you will be available for the next person to give you what you need and you will be able to genuinely receive it because you will have a space in your heart to do so. 

You're on the right path. Keep going and let us know how it turns out.

© 2001 The New Intimacy

February 26-March 4


At the heart of a loving relationship is the concern for one another's well being. However, that doesn't always take the form of tenderness and affection. Sometimes, being critical is as loving as anything we might otherwise do.

Some of you may already be taking exception. You may be thinking that criticism can only be negative. That's understandable. Most criticism is negative, and is usually meant to promote the "virtues" and advance the status of the critic. The receiver is often left emotionally bloodied, and then expected to change for the better. 

And then there's what's called constructive criticism, which often means the critic can get away with it because he or she claims it is for the betterment of the person whose "faults" are being "improved." Then the receiver is left in need of emotional convalescence.

But criticism can also mean loving and careful judgment. When delivered with the well being of the receiver truly in mind, loving criticism can inspire a turning point, and be as devoted as anything else we can give.

For example, bring to mind a time when you saw someone you loved engage in a behavior that was self-destructive. It could have been drugs, or lack of commitment to an important project. It could have been weight or self-pity or anything that made the person less than you knew they could be. What was your loving obligation to that person? 

We are all deeply dependent upon one another to be there when we get lost. That is especially true between intimates

When we do our radio show, Jim has an unconscious habit ofcracking his knuckles. It happens only every now and then, but it happens. When Judith asked him why, at first he felt attacked.

"Nobody can hear it," he protested.

"That's not the point," Judith cautioned. "It's that you're unconscious about it."

She was right and he couldn't deny it. So why did he do it?

After he thought about it he realized that it was a way of expending excess energy. But rather than dissipating his focus, she urged him to take that energy and put it into what he was doing. It worked. His concentration heightened, he was even more observant and his delivery had that much more purpose to it.

Was it criticism? Certainly. But was it also careful judgment. Without a doubt. And why? Because she had his best interests at heart and was devoted enough to what she knew he wanted to bring it to his attention. That forced him to be more conscious, which was a small, but important, turning point in his work on the air. 

When love is leading your actions, you need not be afraid of criticism. When it's well intended and well received, it yields gratitude and an even deeper intimacy.

ASK JUDITH & JIM

Dear Judith & Jim,

I've been dating a wonderful man for 4 months and we have a fantastic relationship. We communicate well. He is fair in his responses to me. He intuitively senses when I need his comfort and love and I try to reciprocate with affection and devotion. We've discussed marriage and have many reasons to believe that this relationship will be a wonderful and lasting one.

But, for some reason, I find myself getting very panicked, veryanxious as we start discussing the permanency of marriage. Due to my past, a bad marriage, I have many doubts about my own abilities to trust men, about my willingness to relinquish my independence, and especially about the difficulties of arguments and disagreements. 

My faults arem't easy to repair, so his patience and continued love will be needed as I learn to trust, to open myself to being a true partner. With all this "baggage," I would like to know how to work through my anxieties regarding this.

Help

Dear Help,

Panic is a reaction we have to severe threat. Somewhere in your psyche, you have a deeply lodged allegiance to a belief that is more important than the possibility of a long-term and seemingly wonderful relationship with this man. So, in that sense, the panic, which appears to be a hindrance is actually a gift. It is giving you the opportunity to rid yourself of whatever it is you are loyal to. Here's how it works. 

Whenever we say we want something and keep choosing against it, we are not failing, but succeeding at keeping something we unconsciously regard as more valuable in place. The symptom, in your case, is about permanency. So, for starters, some time ago, most likely in your childhood, you concluded that, when it came to men, your well being would be best served only with superficial and transient connections, and you are loyal to that belief.

Now, the adult, conscious part of you recognizes the value in setting down roots with someone and your internal life is in an uproar. Your psyche is trying to maintain what it believes to be the condition that is best for you and so is alerting you with panic and anxiety that you are in danger.

You've had one bad marriage and have many doubts about your own ability to trust men. We're sure that there was some abuse in your youth, perhaps sexual, perhaps physical, by your father or some other man who was supposed to be caring. Now, in the presence of a man who is actually caring, that old terror and rage is being activated. Again, that's a gift. If this man is who you say he is, and your love for him is as sincere as it appears to be, then you are co-creating a container in which your loyalty to distrusting men can be exposed and purged.

The issue of your unwillingness to relinquish your independence sounds like a red herring. It looks really good on paper, but it's just a way of distracting yourself from the fears that are arising in the face of his care.

With regard to the difficulties of arguments and disagreements, they will, under normal circumstances in good relationships, open the way for anger and even fighting. We suspect your fear has less to do with handling them and more to do with your losing control of the rage that is hidden in the panic and anxiety.

Finally, he surely has faults he considers as monumental as you consider yours, or you two wouldn't have ended up together and so well. You both have baggage and it is, no doubt, a well matched set.

So, let your panic be your guide. Ask him to help contain you emotionally so that you can explore for the details of what frightens you. Then be sure to look for that decision that is the opposite of permanence, and there you will find why it gave you some release and relief in the past. Do not hold yourself to a timeframe to shift your loyalty, that will come in due time because you are simultaneously building a bank of trusting experience with him that is need to counterbalance what has gone before.

Your fears developed in relationship. They can only be fully released and healed in relationship. You seem to have one that can do the job. Talk with him Ask for his help. And know that you are not alone.

Let us know what happens.

© 2001 The New Intimacy

February 19-25


Traditionally, it was assumed that only one person could make decisions -- either for a couple and even for a group and that person has most often been a man. Women were expected to agree and submit to the man's "greater authority." But, as we know, women have broken out of that second-place role for the most part and now, in the new intimacy, men and women can work together to co-create solutions to problems, so that both feel empowered and both feel satisfied.

That's how it was for us last week when we were bumped off a flight home from Dulles to Albany. They'd downsized the plane and only 29 of the 53 scheduled passengers could go. It was fine for us, but not for a young woman, whose sister was getting married the next day. She was told that, even though she had a boarding pass, which she'd arrived early to be sure to get, she did not step up when the boarding announcement was made and so they gave her seat to someone else. When she was told she burst into tears and was crying hysterically, because the best the airline could offer was a flight the next morning which would cause her to miss her sister's wedding. 

Judith wasn't having any of that. She went to the gate counter and insisted that someone get on the plane and describe this woman's plight, to influence someone to volunteer to give up their seat. She was told that "rules and regs won't allow that," yet Judith assumed her own authority and continued to insist - loudly -- drawing the 20 or so people who had been bumped into a circle of supporters for the young woman. 

Jim wasn't going to allow rules and regs to prevent this woman from getting on the plane, so he went to the supervisors office and demanded action, walking with the supervisor to the gate and explaining the critical nature of the problem. 

The supervisor convinced a woman on the plane who'd purchased a ticket for her small child to hold the child on her lap. To compensate her, he gave her airline travel credits which amounted to two coast-to-coast round trips. 

The young woman, still sniffling, was escorted to the plane as we all clapped and cheered!

Men and women assuming their individual authority workedtogether to make something happen. We never talked with one another, yet we functioned as a determined team, deciding by our actions how to proceed, committed to persisting together until we'd succeeded in our mission.

That is what is now available between men and women, each capable of being decisive, each empowered to act on their decisions, and both depending on the other to bring value and action into the world. A new intimacy recognizing that two heads can be better than one.

ASK JUDITH & JIM

Dear Judith & Jim,

I've been in a relationship for the past six months. He was from New York and I live in Michigan but he moved here to be with me almost right away. He is incredibly jealous of any and all of my past involvements. I have tried to calm his fears but I think he expected me to "save" him in some way and when he found out I wasn't perfect and had a past (which really isn't much) but a past nonetheless he panicked and flew off to Mexico to "figure things out." All of my friends think he is completely wrong for me but I love him dearly. I know when he returns he's going to want to work things out and I'm trying to find the strength to say no, because I still want to say yes. But I don't think he could ever be the partner I long for. A partner wouldn't take off just because things got rough. I know this in my head...how do I convince my heart?

Need to Say NO!

Dear Need to Say NO!,

It sounds like your man never had a real relationship with you -- only with his fantasy of you! And then when the real you began to become obvious, his self-centered world began collapsing. 

Of course he was jealous of your past. It was real and belonged to you. He was on the outside of that, enamored with a fiction of you.

You say when he returns he's going to want to work things out and that you don't think he could ever be the partner I long for yet you love him dearly. Now, what is it that you love so dearly? Since he's never been in love with who you really are, and you seem to recognize that, we suggest that you too are caught up in a figment of your imagination when it comes to him. Who from your past is he like? You've been hooked by something that seems to have little to do with him. Who is it yo are "in love" with? This is a man who, according to you, needs to be "saved." He moves to be with you on rapid impulse and just as impulsively whisks himself off to Mexico when the reality of who you are is too obvious.

He is not really the issue here! Yes you'll have to deal withhim should he return, but you are caught in a need or a longing for something this man represents. Even if he doesn't return, you're still stuck with whatever it is inside of you that makes a man with his personality structure difficult to say "no" to. So, if it's not this one, there'll be another and you'll have to go through this all over again. He's not the issue. The real issue is whatever you've "fallen in love" with.

Please, please question what it is you think you "love."

And yes, we agree with your friends. Please, for your sake -- and his, say NO!

© 2001 The New Intimacy

February 12-18


Sad to say, many of us were raised to create marriages and family life in a well regulated and predictable fashion. And then, lo and behold, life seems boring and tedious.

But what about opening our lives and love to the unexpected, the mysterious? What some people refer to as Quantum reality. In other words, in the quantum world of subatomic physics, it is now known that electrons don't move in a straight line fashion but leap from one energy level to another. Here, in the world at human size, events are no longer thought to be compressed into linear routes - that is B always follows A, C necessarily follows B. Now the universe has revealed new secrets that tell us that A can be followed by M, which can be followed by C and so forth -- as long as we hold our minds open to the adventure of discovery. 

For example, we came to live here in the cozy, small town of Windham, New York, more through whim and a seeming sense of destiny, than through any well ordered plan. In fact, our moving here from Santa Monica made no sense on paper and when our friends asked why we were doing it, our initial response was, "God's whim!"

Now that we've been here almost seven months we can see that it has been one of the wisest "impulses" we've ever had. More than anything, the move to this entirely new kind of environment broke us loose from many ingrained habits, making room for just the kind of things to happen that can only happen when you trust the voyage you are on and look forward to the discovery it has in store for you..

And it all happened because of a seeming disaster -- we were in Manhattan Valentine's Day week of 1999 to promote our book, "The New Intimacy" on TV and Radio, and after doing "The View" we got bumped from everything else -- pre-empted because the Clinton impeachment findings were going to be announced! A disaster!!!! Right?

Wrong!!! We took the time to travel by Amtrak to visit our friends Art and Pat who lived very near Windham and fell in love with the area. Rather than resist, rather than say "This is not logical," which on paper it wasn't, we opened to it and that was the leap that opened the new direction of our life together.

Open yourself to the possibility of dancing at the fringes of what you already know and do, the reality you've constructed and live within, inviting the unimagined to grace your relationship, to bless your capacity to love. Give it a try, everyday. It works!

Dear Judith & Jim,

Greetings and Gratitudes! In our first year of marriage, my husband and I have learned a lot about being "loving" rather than being "right". We chose the yin-yang as our wedding symbol to help us look at our differences in lifestyle from a positive perspective. I try to live as much as possible in the present moment and find my Source of joy within but at times find myself wanting more time and full-attention from my husband. He works late nights as a party DJ, sleeps late, and then returns to his office to handle calls and appointments. I am grateful that he now takes one day off a week (most of which he sleeps)and he has been trying to honor date nights. We got a puppy to keep me company and yet I still feel like it is not enough. I love my solitude during the day but get a bit lonely in the evening. Am I putting too much power in his hands or is it reasonable to want to spend time daily with your partner? Any ideas would be greatly appreciated!

Love & Blessings,

MNW

Dear MNW,

Two people are always co-creating their relationship and marriage by teaching each other what they expect, what they will put up with, what they won't, what they want and what they don't. We do that either overtly or covertly right from the first moment of our relationship, and that is inescapable. So, your current loneliness is the result of how the two of you chose to live together.

But, and this is critical -- because it was a co-creation, you are not left powerless. Quite the contrary. You made choices and accepted the consequences - like loving the daytime solitude. But we can never foresee all the possible outcomes and so now you are lonely. Here's the good news. Because you are a participant, a co-creator, you have the power to change what you want to change.

You ask if is it reasonable to want to spend time daily with your partner. Don't think in terms of "reasonable." That can, and probably will, lead you into a very refined discussion about reason and logic and your loneliness will never get addressed. You want more time. So, the relationship will have to change. Now the task is to work it out so both of your needs are met and satisfied.

Your husband has been trying to honor your date nights, suggesting he understands your need to some degree. But, he is operating from what the two of you have accepted thus far as right for how you are together. We suggest you begin by respecting what has been as the shape of your marriage for its first year. In other words, when you ask for change, speak positively about how it has been so that there are no hurt feelings. Then you can address your newly emerging needs, those which neither of you could have foreseen during the first year. All you are talking about is change, and change is necessary if your marriage is to stay alive and vital. 

Don't continue to be lonely. Enlist your husband in the co-creating of a new way of being together. That may take time to accomplish - unwinding what has been and learning what you both need to learn to continue to satisfy each other. And please remember, you made what you have, you can re-make it. You have the power, use it to fulfill your need.

© 2001 The New Intimacy

February 5-11


Everyone wants to be recognized and valued -- just for being. Sadly, many of us don't receive this kind of deep, solid validation of our worth from our parents. They didn't get it from their parents who didn't get it from their parents and so it goes. It's no one's fault, but it is a problem. Most people doubt their own value, doubt that they will be well received when they meet new people and even doubt the love of their spouse.

Being new to this mountain community, Windham, New York, we are meeting lots of people for the first time. We'd been warned that our being new and obviously city folks, we could feel some prejudice against us and stand-offishness from some of the locals. So far that hasn't happened. The people here have been very helpful and kind to us and we're even beginning to make new friends (who've invited us over for dinner Thursday night -- which was a genuine gourmet treat). 

And yet, Judith commented yesterday that while her mind knows that she is welcome and wanted here, her old programming still rises up in fear once in a awhile -- like when we went into the local library to ask that they order our books for their stacks, or when she had to have the bank clerk help her figure out a new account. The old demons seem to lurk around, far more quietly than in the past, no matter how much work you do on yourself, it seems. 

So, let's all remember that we can be more intimate, even with strangers, when we just give that easy smile, warm handshake, a sincere question about how's it goin'. We can remember that everyone's feeling insecure in some way, and we understand. We've been there too. 

Make it a point to acknowledge all them people you encounter this weekend and notice how good it feels to spread around your personal version of the new intimacy.

Dear Judith & Jim,

Over the past 10 years, scores of married or otherwise partnered men have told me, as a masseuse and intimacy counselor, that they make regular visits for massage, unbeknownst to their partners. They also confess to seeking out sensual and sexual stimulation in many cases, saying that while it's no conflict to them or their loyalties to their partners, they know it would "hurt" their women, so they don't tell them about the clandestine visits. Few men see any point in "rocking" the proverbial domestic "boat."

Honesty is very important to me, personally, and the secrecy never sits right with me. Yet I also typically experience men as different from women biologically, often able to "compartmentalize" sexual responses from their emotional ones more readily than women, etc. 

I wonder what each of you feels about this common issue.

M

Dear M,

Thanks for raising this issue.

This is Judith
Cheating is cheating. And in these cases, there are two fundamental versions of cheating going on.

The first is emotional. The men are doing things, even if it was just getting innocent massages, that they hide from their wives. Their priority is the lie, not the marriage, no matter how it's rationalized. If the marriage came first and the boat was "rocked" by the announcement that hubby was getting a massage from a masseuse, then deeper issues are at hand and need to be addressed. Announcing a massage is only the top crust. 

Revealing the truth about the massage could only help both people open up to their real fears and get whatever help they would need to heal themselves and their marriage. Or, it might lead to a divorce, which, if it did, would only expose the lack of emotional and spiritual connection in the underbelly of their "marriage." 

Secondly, seeking out sensual experience from anyone other than the person one is committed to is cheating. Period.

Here's the question, no matter how compartmentalized men may be -- What is missing in their marriages that drives these men to seek secret and/or sensual experience from other women? Because, unless the men are pathological liars, something was missing between husband and wife before his cheating expressed it so vividly. 

This is Jim

I've worked with a lot of men in the last fifteen years and can testify to the explanation that "men can compartmentalize their emotions." I've seen it. However,is that a description of fact or a way of justifying behaviors that might otherwise not be acceptable? 

Biologists argue that males are evolutionarily driven to disseminate their seed and increase their chances of perpetuating their gene stock. And women are equally driven to protect their eggs to insure the best possible circumstances to raise their young. So men range and women don't.

But, like it or not, we humans have the added responsibility of consciousness. It is certainly possible for a man (or a woman, for that matter) to have a fling and think nothing of it. But to me that suggests someone who is acting purely instinctually. Does that happen? Of course. But if a man has enough awareness to be concerned with his wife's being hurt, then enough awareness is functioning that he can no longer fall back on the - my other head made me do it - argument. 

When a man is concerned about his wife's feelings, then he's not compartmentalizing. He's in denial. And, just to be fair, so is she if she uses any excuse to keep her conscience intact after the fact.

Dear Readers:

If you'd like to weigh in on this one, we'd love to hear from you, and we'll publish a few of your responses.

© 2001 The New Intimacy

January 29-February 4


We all come into our romantic relationships with old emotional baggage. A lot of it so psychologically primitive it seems it should have no place in how we think and what we do as adults, and yet old fears, old insecurities, old desperations can rear their very powerful voices and stir up unpleasant and sometimes self-destructive feelings and behaviors. 

When we're not aware of this stuff, our unconscious "junk" can ride roughshod over a marriage or long-term relationship -- because our responses makes no rational sense based on what is going on in the moment. But with a little compassion and conscious caring, what we feel and do can make perfect sense when we understand it in the context of our past.

A few weeks ago Judith's mouse (not the one in the kitchen but her computer sidekick!) had a heart attack of some kind and was most unruly and hard to work with. For some reason the frustration touched an old nerve of feeling betrayed. So when Jim came in to ask a question, Judith was weeping in desperation, trying to make the mouse do her bidding.

From Jim's perspective, the dying mouse was a drag and could easily be replaced when we went into Hudson a couple of days later. Yet, what about Judith's very real agony?

Jim's perspective was clearer because he doesn't share her same issues. That's an example of the power and magic of the differences between us -- between any two people committed to one another. He could stay centered emotionally while we tried to find the root of the problem. His gentle calmness was very comforting.

Because we are committed to accepting one another "as is," what might seem like melodrama was treated with respect and in that way healed a bit.

When we say we accept one another "as is," we mean that whatever we encounter in one another is the truth of the moment. Judith's weeping, no matter how disproportionate or out-of-the-present it was, was what was so had to accept "as is." That doesn't mean, however, that we don't desire change from one another. "As is" doesn't extend to unadulterated acceptance. To do that would be wholly unrealistic to say nothing of unhelpful. But, at the same time, we cannot demand that we be who we're not. If Jim said, "Judith, don't be ridiculous, you should be having a different response," he would have been self-centered to say nothing of cruel. We accept each other as is as the starting point and work for change from there, out of a respect for what is going on -- no matter how distorted that "going on" may be.

While Judith's weeping stemmed from difficulties she experienced as a child with being dependent and feeling unsafe in the world, and how those early fears translated into feeling violated when her trusty computer "betrayed" her, the "crisis" opened up new territory to be understood by both of us. We both got to explore even deeper levels of intimacy around the issue of fearing neediness and being dependent -- while also solving the very un-psychological problem of fixing the mouse, at least enough to make it work until it was replaced.

What old issues come up and haunt your current relationship? How can you use the ways you are different from your partner to help ease his or her pain, fear, anger, whatever? How can you relate to old emotional baggage as a source for deeper knowing of one another, rather than feeling overwhelmed or burdened. 

When you open to one another as is, and work to grow from there, the rewards of you're becoming more and more intimate will be well worth the time and "trouble."

Our wish for you is more trust and greater freedom in your relationships!

Ask Judith & Jim:

Dear Judith & Jim,

My boyfriend of two years had sex with a girl before we started dating. When he told me I was upset because she had a boyfriend and he knew about it. He told me that it was a "one time thing" but I really didn't like the thought of him doing something like that and knowing that she already had someone.

It so happens that there is a girl in my office who is friendly with her and she is constantly calling my office to talk with her and I have to be answering the phone and be in conversation with her.

I really hate this because it is a constant reminder of them together and it sometimes makes me feel that I am not good enough for him or sexy enough.

Also, I found out that she is sending him emails.

I am not sure how I should feel about this because he knows how I feel about what they had and how much I hated it and how insecure I feel with regards to her and yet still he gave her his email address which leaves me wondering what are they up to now. I just get so upset sometimes.

Is this a normal feeling? What can I do to feel better? How can I make him understand how this is tearing me apart? I tried talking to him but it seems to be of no use.

I would really appreciate your advice.

Not Sure

Dear Not Sure,

To begin with, she is only a secondary problem. She is doing whatever she feels she needs to do and has no concern for you. The real problem is that he doesn't seem to be listening to you, and, more importantly, he doesn't seem to care. Now, we don't know just how you've told him, and there are ways of expressing what you feel that will be more effective than others, but, having said that, your concern is legitimate.

It's possible that someone else, not him, gave her his email address. The issue is that, given your distress, he's agreeing to receive email from her. Even if he thinks yourinsecurity is completely misplaced and your being overly dramatic, if he is sincerely committed to you, then, under the circumstances, that should be his first priority.

You ask if your response is normal Yes, it is, in the sense that, most people would feel the way you do. But, we ask you to shift your focus. You wonder what they might be up to. Whatever they're doing, he is not being faithful to you, even if there's no ex involved between them, because he is not taking you seriously, not caring for your feelings, and prefers to defend his relationship with her over his with you. He is opting for her rather than you, and that is cheating, sex or not.

Our deeper concern is that you conclude that **you** may not be "good enough for him or sexy enough." Your self-evaluation is far more dangerous to you and your romantic life than anything he may or may not be doing with her. And, the source of your sense of being less-than or worthless was in place long before you two ever met.

Who taught you to believe so little of yourself? What circumstances during your growing up led you to conclude that there was something wring with you? Who was it you tried to make understand and failed? This situation is truly a gift to you if you use it to look at how you consider yourself.

If you want to stay with him you both will have to change. He will have to become more respectful and he won't until you demand it. And you won't demand it until you have a better sense of your worth.

Show him our response. If he dismisses it, you will know where you stand. But more importantly, take what we're saying about how you feel about yourself to heart. No relationship you will ever be in can be satisfying until you believe you deserve to be loved as a first priority and that cannot happen until you first in your own eyes.

© 2001 The New Intimacy

January 22-28


Some of you have written to us that it seems like we have an idyllic life, always in harmony, hassle-free. We want to make sure that myth is dispelled. While we've been together for 13 years and married 12 -- and we've got a lot of conflicts resolved and know each other far better than in the beginning -- trust us, there are still times when relationship and/or life is challenging, sometimes extremely challenging!

For instance, each of us has hoped, from time to time, to find that perfect peace, that solid, unflappable self-confidence that would transform all of life into a kind of spiritual paradise. Even though we teach against this, it still looms up to bite us in the you know where.....

Moving here four months ago from the wilds of Santa Monica, CA to the wildly romantic mountainside of Windham, NY, where the country is soooo beautiful, captured both of us. Country life evoked the wish, even though largely unconscious, that living here would be THE answer, Windham country would bring total fulfillment -- especially for Jim (Judith is still more a city girl and that helped her stay more grounded).

So, now, a major and tender aspect of our current intimacy is an ongoing conversation about the gradually fading honeymoon feeling of being here. Our recognition, once again, that there is no redemption, no secret solution to life's challenges, and absolutely no free lunch, connects us even more deeply with the fact that life is life. We must still dance with it as it is and we tweak our awareness daily to make certain that not only is this life enough, it is an ongoing blessing!.

Now, you may not think of that as intimate. True, it's not what happens in the movies -- but it is deeply comforting and very trusting to share our secret wishes, our hopes against hope that a kind of total redemption can be had.

In its place we review all the blessings of our lives, including meeting one another on a blind date, March 7th, 1987. We continue to relish being here and rejoice in new experiences, like picking our own blackberries -- which grow wild in the back yard. And we work to grow more patient as the paper work piles up on the floor just like in our old place, grieve the lack of a good, handy dry cleaners and have to drive almost an hour to have our copier fixed. 

Life is life. While we all have a lot of creative input on how it goes for us, at other times all we can do is surrender once again to life on its terms. Talking about your frustrations, your fading dreams, your wish that life could be different than it is can be a wondrously intimate time. Remember that you have each other and give thanks for all that blesses your life together.

© 2001 The New Intimacy

January 15-21


Because there are always two distinctly different people in any relationship -- and as soon as you meet someone, there's a relationship -- and because change, never ceasing change is a fundamental part of life, your relationship(s) will never stay firmly, predictably in place. Never. UNLESS you both die emotionally and settle for dullsville.

When you really get this, or "grok" it as Robert Heinlein said, then you can begin to enjoy and look forward to the many seasons your long-term relationships will go through. 

This is very similar to the flowing changes in the local wild flowers here. Since we arrived in April we've noted with excited pleasure the many beginnings of the different flowering weed species in their abundant blooming. Then a week or two later some of them are fading and altogether new shapes and colors and sizes are erupting with gleeful abandon. This riotous infusion of new life into the already living, the dying off of that which is now beyond its time -- brings us such delight as we take our morning walks down our road. "Oh, look, we've never seen that kind!" "Well, there are just a few of those left blooming." "What do you imagine we'll find next time?

We've speculated on what it would be like if they all came into their season at the same time. For one thing, it would be difficult to appreciate them as independently wonderful expressions of God's creativity -- they would all run wild all over each other. And it would be all or nothing -- there would be no progression and development to the spectacle.

Sadly, so many people want their relationships set in stone right from the beginning -- no surprises, no growth, no unfolding. But life and love are not like that. The blessing of real life love is that each of us keeps growing if we stay open to the lessons of love and then our relationships can never be boring, never beyond improvement, never without further depths of love to discover.

In our first book, "The New Intimacy: Discovering the Magic at the Heart of Your Differences," we introduced the concept of "serial monogamy with the same person," the continual unfolding, the expansive evolution in a long-term relationship as both partners grow and change.

Enjoy all the seasons -- even when you are too hot, too cold, and certainly even when your love life isn't going according to your private plan. At all times, know that love is taking you where it needs you to go!

© 2001 The New Intimacy

January 8-14


One of the wonders of being in a long term relationship that celebrates "the magic of differences" is that you can divvy up the daily chores, errands and family support requirements along the lines of one another's strengths and weaknesses, preferences and distastes.

One of the ongoing challenges of country living is the BUGS! Big moths, black wasps, tiny "no-see-ums" and all manner of flies and critters figure out how to get inside our house. With a night light in our bathroom drawing them all in there after we turn out the lights, every morning the bathroom sink, floor and window sill have turned into the bug funeral parlor. 

Judith finds them obnoxious -- alive or dead! Jim doesn't mind them most of the time and does most of the clean up in bathroom. He actually enjoys saving the live ones with his hands or he uses an empty plastic juice jug and a piece of cardboard to trap the wasps until safe delivery out of the house. So, now Judith just calls out for the "Bug Patrol!" and knows Jim will come rescue her. 

Respecting our differences allows Judith to feel taken care of by Jim and Jim gets to be the Bug Patrol General! 

In the old way of thinking about differences, we'd both be making each other wrong. Jim wouldn't hesitate to make fun of Judith for being so "prissy and girlie" and "overly sensitive." Judith would condemn Jim for being "macho" and "tough" and ignoring his "real feelings" of disgust. Each of us would feel righteous and correct -- certain the other was wrong and deserved to be punished by verbal abuse. 

In the new intimacy, the fun is in sharing life in all the ways that our differences enhance one another and allow our individuality to shine.

Remember that the other person you're involved with is not you. So, how do the ways he or she is different from you make your life easier, more fun, better?! Rejoice in those differences!

© 2001 The New Intimacy

January 1-7


A number of years ago, Jim challenged Judith, telling her that she didn't touch him as much as he touched her. Judith was shocked. From her perspective, she was very affectionate physically. "No way," said Jim, "not so." By that time in our relationship we'd learned how each other liked to receive criticism so that it wasn't experienced as an attack. But Jim wanted her to be sure to know he was very serious, and meant it as a challenge to her to become more aware, and of course much more physically affectionate.

A short time later we were driving to meet her father, a trip of about an hour and a half. During the ride, Judith asked, "Jim, do you feel that?" She was smiling. "Feel what?" said Jim. Making her point, she squeezed his thigh where her hand already touched him. "That." 

He looked down and knew immediately that he had been hoisted on his own challenge. "How long has your hand been there?" Judith was beaming with affection, "Oh, about three minutes." "Oh," he smiled, and began to move his mouth as though he was chewing. "What are you doing?" wondered Judith. As a blush was rising in his cheeks, he half-whispered, "Well, this crow isn't bad. Your recipe?" We both laughed, enjoying each other's humanity.

Sadly, in many relationships, a moment like that has the potential for real danger. The one exposed for being unconscious can feel it as humiliation and then retaliate. But that happens only when the foibles and frailties of being human are not embraced. The fact is, not one of us escapes feeling absolutely certain about something only to bump into the wide range of our own lack of awareness.

You see, intimacy has a difficult time with absolute certainty. There's no room to breathe, and no room to receive reality.

Albert Camus wrote - "Nothing is true that forces one to exclude." We believe that wholeheartedly. Jim was not proclaiming from on high when he made the initial challenge. And Judith had no intention of belittling him. Reality was the point. Reality - the only place where penetrating intimacy can take root and become a spiritual bouquet.

Keep in mind, this point is tricky. We all have powerful feelings and act on them with confidence. That's okay. As long as you remember not to exclude. When you do, you get caught in your own lie. 

Jim's challenge opened up more awareness for us both. And that's the point. Intimacy and awareness are two sides of the same soul. And besides, now very little, if any, of our touching goes by unnoticed. That's one level of the payoff. The other is consciousness. We are much better aware of each other's needs with regard to physical affection, giving and receiving it more freely and joyously.

Don't back away from announcing what you believe is right. Even if it's not, if your intention is to support the well-being of your relationship, you will be rewarded in the end.

© 2001 The New Intimacy

*    *    *
Intimacy is spelled "in to me you see". - Stan Dale

I have always made a distinction between my friends and my confidants. I enjoy the conversation of the former; from the latter I hide nothing. - Edith Piaf



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