The New Intimacy '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 They are the bestselling authors of "The New Intimacy" and "Opening to Love 365 Days a Year." Visit their website at For their free weekly email newsletter, send email to You can write us with questions about your personal relationship. We print one letter a week with our answer. You can reach us at: Archive 2000. Archive 2001 Updated 9/30/01.

October 1-7

Loving Endearments

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

This endearment was submitted by our subscriber Sharon. 

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

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

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

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

Thank God for Fred.

The New Intimacy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ask Judith & Jim

Dear Judith & Jim,

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


Lost in NH when my heart is in FL

Dear Lost,

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

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

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

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

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

Please let us know your response to our answer.

Judith & Jim

© 2001 The New Intimacy

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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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