The New Intimacy '00


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 2001 Updated 12/25/00.

December 25-31
December 18-24
December 11-17
December 4-10
November 27-December 3
November 20-26
November 13-19
November 6-12
October 30-November 5
Books, Issues

December 25-31

Last Saturday night we went to a Chamber Music Concert here in our small town. It was held in an historical church turned Civic Center, seating only 250. These world class musicians were invited to play by fellow members of the NY Metropolitan Opera, who live here, and were payed far less than they are accustomed to.

Rather than holding back, assuming that the small-town audience wouldn't know the difference, or protecting themselves from whatever inadequacies they might encounter (like having to wait in the tiny, adjacent library before going on), they gave the most masterful performances we've ever seen in our lives! They played from their hearts and souls and they demanded with their very beings that we all go with them into the ecstatic passions that drove their spirited playing.

You might imagine that a rural audience would be polite, reserved in their appreciation for these musicians with foreign names, these players who pushed their instruments and their bodies into a impassioned duet of epic astonishment. But, no, these people in shorts and slacks lept to their feet, screamed out their joy and showered a reciprocal intimacy right back to those on the stage!

Judith was in tears much of the time, in awe of the unspeakable beauty made possible only by the musicians' giving themselves into the larger forces of the music. Jim was swept up in a kind of cosmic oneness with all life, as he opened to the power and majesty of the playing. We held hands, made knowing eye contact and shared the ecstasy together. Intimacy upon intimacy sweeping back and forth from stage to audience and back again transforming everyone.

Intimacy is about opening yourself, entering the moment, eager to see what is calling you. How often do you open yourself that way to your marriage, your relationship, your date? How often do you open yourself fully to yourself, letting your soul speak to you, engaging intimately with what wants to be revealed within you?

Like those musician, intimates must practice. And, they must also surrender to the force of the flow between them. That's what leads to the heights and the depths of being together with someone. That's what makes the music of passion.

We opened last Saturday night and were filled. Please join us in saying yes to passion, yes to experience, yes to life!!!!!

© 2000 The New Intimacy

December 18-24

Winter is setting in here in the mountains. The tress have dropped their leaves, the grass isn't growing, frost is a regular morning visitor and ice is not too far away. It's almost past remembering that the hills and pastures were bursting with wildflowers just a few short months ago.

But the lush, verdant summer is only one season, like lusty passion is only on expression in the life of a relationship. Things change, and sometimes the beauty is not immediately apparent.

As we walk along the road the winter colors are muted and unassuming. We can't rely on them to excite us. Instead, we have to give more of ourselves, we have to open and extend ourselves. We have to bring more to the exchange because one half of the partnership - the winter landscape - doesn't have the energy it once did. 

Love is like that. Sometimes our partner doesn't have it to excite us. Sometimes they don't feel well. Sometimes they're depressed. Sometimes they just want to be quiet. They're muted and withdrawn.

That's when we have to extend ourselves, our sensitivity, and look for the beauty of the moment. It won't leap out and grab us but it's there. And it doesn't mean there's anything we have to do but be respectful of the what's happening and, like in the winter, open to what it has to offer. It will return the rich gifts of it's season and, after a time, will be wildflowers again.

 © 2000 The New Intimacy

December 11-17

We went away for Thanksgiving to visit Judith's brother and his family and we returned to find that the temperature had been in single digits, the coldest so far this year.

We also returned to find the pipe from our well was clogged with ice and so we had very little water pressure. That means very little water.

So Jim set about pouring hot water on the pipe, which thawed it enough to produce full, normal water pressure. Then he stuffed fiberglass insulation around the pipe which will keep it from freezing again we trust!

We also discovered the drain from the kitchen sink was blocked. When we tried to plunge it free, we somehow created a siphon which drew water back into the sink basin.

Before going to bed that night, Judith was concerned that the sink might overflow and flood the kitchen. Jim thought it was unlikely.

When we awoke in the morning there was, standing on the kitchen counters, an assortment of twelve containers pots, bowls, pans and one bucket -- filled with cold, clear water. Judith had been right. Our mysterious siphon kept drawing all night and because of her concern, she awoke twice during the night and each time found herself bailing out the sink in the kitchen.

We both bailed until the plumber arrived and fixed the problem without his solving the mystery of how we had "engineered" the siphon effect.

As this week's quote so rightly recognizes, it's easy to think about, talk about, wish for love, but doing love is not something we hear a lot about. It's true that love is a feeling or a sentiment, and that's important. But love is also, and more often, an action. Do love.

JIM: Judith didn't wake me during the night. She did her love and left it for me to be surprised by the next morning.

JUDITH: Jim didn't ask me to crawl into the utility shed with him, get on my hands and knees to deal with the well-pipe. He did his love by doing what had to be done.

And neither of us complained or bragged about what we did.

It's so easy to take for granted the little things we do for one another. But if you include in your understanding of love that love is also an action, then love blossoms all around you in all the things that are done for you everyday -- at the supermarket when the clerk takes extra care in bagging your groceries; or at the bank when the teller corrects your addition giving you more in your deposit than you'd calculated.; and, of course, when your lover does, without calling attention to it, all the little things he or she does that seem just part of the way you live togther.

Love is very much expressed in action. Don't let the little things go unappreciated. Life is so much richer than many of us think.

 © 2000 The New Intimacy

December 4-10

We are now residents of Windham, NY. We moved here April 15th from Santa Monica, CA -- to live in a 200 year old farm house that sits on 2 acres and has its own pond!

We are seeing how this move has opened us in so many ways -- ways we could never have predicted. But first we had to trust our impulse to take a big leap, to let go of a need for certainty. Of course, the same leap is required when any of us starts a new relationship or decides to give ourselves fully to a marriage that has been neglected.

Here we are surrounded by more of God's beauty than we imagined. We live on a road dotted with old farm houses -- some with horses, one with sheep in the front yard, another with pigs in the barn. The skies are a painter's dream. And we get to live here!! Why? Because we followed our yearning to move beyond a  lifestyle that had become predictable, to dance with life in a way that would challenge us to stay closer to the spirit of being fully alive rather than clinging to the safe and predictable. We gave ourselves to the adventure of expanding intimacy -- both with one another and with nature!

Certainly this change has come with challenges -- the water smelled of sulphur and left our skin slimey after a shower -- mice visited the kitchen drawers and counters on a regular basis (it is an old farm house!) -- the chimney was dangerously cracked. Little by little we are getting all these things taken care of. 

But if this were a romantic relationship, the love affair would most likely be over. Why? Because the reality would be too different from what is familiar. The need to grow into the challenges would not fit the expectations of love, it wouldn't be as it "should be."

Yet, we are both much the richer for these encounters with reality. Each of us is more resilient, more flexible, more conscious of the positive blessings of our life here each and every day. We remark, almost daily, on the new joy we feel in being together, the deeper levels of intimacy and tenderness we feel as a by-product of going through these challenges side by side. 

Jim is learning how to put up wallpaper. Judith is learning to wear hiking boots and "farm" clothes. We're being changed in so many ways -- and loving it! 

Our wish for you is that you release any old, outworn habits in your relationship(s) so that you can open to more love in your life.

So, choose one thing that you will do differently today. Let love play more in your life. Trust that it will be good for you. Even if you are scared or anxious, even if you feel out of control -- do it anyway!!!!

© 2000 The New Intimacy

November 27-December 3

There is great wisdom in your choice of serious love partners. Wisdom that doesn't always meet the eye. In fact on the surface, it may seem like the two of you are so different that you'll not even be able to make it. But, with a full commitment to the totality of love -- it's those very same differences that will not only fertilize your love, keeping your lives vital and always changing, but will also spur you to greater personal growth.

Yesterday, Jim went into town for his morning newspaper and donut pick-up. On his way out, Judith handed him a form to take to the Library, so we could formally apply to use the Civic Center for a presentation we'll be making in September.

When he got back, Judith asked how it went at the Library. Jim looked surprised. He'd forgotten all about it and didn't even know where the form was! Well! In the early part of our marriage (we've been together 13 years, married 12) when this ditzy side of Jim would show itself, Judith would usually flip out. She'd get angry and scared and start crying in total frustration! Sometimes it would deteriorate into long, drawn out fights as we struggled to find our equilibrium -- because Jim never saw anything tragic going on and Judith always did.

You see, Judith was raised in a family that took getting things done "right" very seriously. So she developed a perfectionistic bent, coupled with a need to avoid "trouble" or getting into "trouble." (Can you identify with that?) That followed her into marriage and obviously caused a great deal of pain for both of us.

The wisdom in marrying Jim is that today Jim is still prone to being ditzy, but Judith has learned from him that his "relaxed attitude" has never caused a catastrophe and so she has relaxed enormously and seldom gets upset anymore.

That's not to say that Jim is so relaxed he's dangerous. We're only talking about non-consequential issues. But it's often the little things that drive people into divorce court when they cannot tolerate each other's personal styles.

Please remember - the other person is not you. Your partner is not you. That may sound obvious, even simplistic, but the next time you go off on your partner because s\he or she hasn't done something "right" - in other words, the way you would do it or the way it should be done - you are insisting there's only one person in the world and that is YOU! Intimacy takes two and it's most delicious when the two aren't the same. Then the adventure of love can be wondrous and your relationship can stay fresh and vital.

Jim found the Library form in his office. He'd been distracted and left it behind. He turned it in the next day. Judith didn't even lose a beat on this one and got to celebrate her cool attitude and tease Jim, in a loving way, about his "absent minded Professor," which he didn't defend. We both had a good time on our walk today talking about how much we've learned from one another and how grateful we are for it. That's what can happen through the wisdom in your choice of one another!

Take a look at all the ways your relationship, even if it didn't work out, was a very wise choice in terms of all you've learned from it! And be grateful.

Husband and wife psychology team, Judith & Jim, 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

© 2000 The New Intimacy

November 20-26

One morning, during our walk along the road, we noticed Baron, the horse next door, anxiously ranging around his corral. He is a grey and white dappled stallion with large brown beautiful eyes. As beautiful as they are, they are a source of maddening frustration for him because tiny flies - "no-see-ums" because they are hardly visible - hover around his eyes attracted to the moisture. He keeps moving to get away, looking for a spot in his corral where he can finally be at ease, an ease that seems to be just out of reach.

Aren't we all just like Baron? Aren't we driven to find a "place" where we can be at ease?

Our need for intimacy is like that. No matter where we go, we yearn for closeness. We yearn for the sustenance of relationship, because we are all creatures who dearly and deeply depend upon one another, not just for our daily bread but for what our souls need - being seen, recognized, appreciated for who we are. And so we keep ranging around the corral of our lives pushed along by a wordless need to find connection.

And yet, even in our most intimate moments, there is still an echo of longing. We are called beyond what is by a whisper that says, "There is more. Reach out to me. There is more." We have what we want and still there is more and so the longing never recedes. Even though it can be less intense, it never recedes.

What do we so deeply long for? What can yield the ease that seems always just out of reach?

Within every intimate moment there is the heartbeat of God. It doesn't matter what you understand God to be, we live with the sense that somewhere, someplace we will find home, that place we will finally be at ease.

Intimacy is the doorway. Through intimacy your heart can touch and be touched, and as you listen very closely, there will be God - in your lover's eyes, in your own pulse, in the life that emerges when you let yourself be seen and known. And then God smiles and says, "Thank you. I've so dearly wanted to know you better."

There is a real and immediate sense of connection waiting for you and it's available everywhere - even in the eyes of a Baron living next door who's trying to find his own place of ease. Open and receive it. As you do, that face you will glimpse out in the beyond may be God's and it may be your own. After all, aren't they the same, really?

Husband and wife psychology team, Judith & Jim, 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

© 2000 The New Intimacy

November 13-19

No matter how much two people have in common, they will always be different in significant and in tiny ways. The question is -- do you feel free to speak up and deal with issues that bug you, hurt you, scare you when your partner behaves in ways you don't like? Or are you afraid that speaking up will threaten your relationship?

If you fear that speaking up will make a problem too huge to resolve, then you are voting for your fear and your lack of value. Do you get that? Your fear won't let you engage in a discussion about changes that you want (and we ALL want some changes in the course of a long term relationship) and you are insisting that you aren't worthy of having a voice -- only your partner is to be valued!

The other day Jim was touching up some paint on a chair rail molding that he'd put up in our hallway upstairs -- and HE WAS STANDING ON A NEW ANTIQUE CARPET RUNNER we'd just purchased at an auction here. When Judith saw this, she was horrified for fear of a paint spill and shocked that Jim would take such a risk. So she said, "Jim, please don't ever leave anything valuable around when you've got paint." And Jim said, "I'm being careful." To which Judith replied, "OK, but most accidents happen when we're being careful. Please don't do it." In response Jim rolled up the rug and said to Judith that he wouldn't do it again because he wanted her to be comfortable and not worried.

If Judith hadn't spoken up she would have stewed over how dumb Jim can be, how his parents were dumb not to teach him to protect things and she would have continued to build a private case against Jim, little by little distrusting him more and more, undermining our relationship. That's the destructive power of not speaking up!

In the new intimacy, love works because it is based on a continually created relationship, in which both people are loved for who they are and feel safe to risk speaking up.

Don't cheat your love by hiding your complaints or desires -- it needs the fertilizer of your speaking up!

Husband and wife psychology team, Judith & Jim, 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

© 2000 The New Intimacy

November 6-12

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© 2000 The New Intimacy

October 30-November 5

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

"Proud," Jim said.

"Proud and powerful," Judith answered.

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

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

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

"Especially if it goes unacknowledged!" Judith smiled.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© 2000 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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