This is part three of a four-part series.
Intimacy has been the topic for the past several weeks, and it will continue to be, with other methods to make intimacy fulfill life's strongest need.
Nourishing a positive world view enhances intimacy, which brings pure delight, joy and creativity. In intimacy, one plus one equals more than two. Intimacy involves movement, song, dance, sex, snuggling, trusting, feeling safe and raw adventure.
Positive psychology teaches us that we can create intimate happiness by emphasizing what is right about our time on earth. Passion and good reason can co-exist, each informing the other. We benefit from sensible ways to feel pure joy.
My first husband was dying during the winter when my daughter was 12 years old, and she knew it. When invited to dance Marie, the child lead in "The Nutcracker" for the Pennsylvania Ballet, I said, “Juliette, Daddy is so sick. Can you handle his illness and the rigor of the dancing on stage solo at the Academy of Music?” Juliette turned to me and smiled.
“Mom, this gives me something happy to concentrate on when the rest of life is so sad. Of course, I can do it.”
Become Lifetime Observers for Each Other's History
Appreciate your partner as an intimate observer who understands your history better than anyone else. Intimate partners are central in interpersonal history; they co-create joint moments of passion, deep sadness, meaning. Honor those who help us become and remain ourselves. These intimates are irreplaceable.
My friend, Karin, I have been friends for over half a century. When our first husbands were alive, we all frequently dined together at a club at the beach.
When my first husband died, Karin helped me cope with single parenting - and also dating for the first time in 30 years. When her husband died, she took three years and we talked often. Recently, she met Ralph, a sailing buddy lately widowed as observers of each other’s lives.
Become Fluent in Intimacy's Nonverbal Language
Our sense of fundamental joining with someone needs few words, resting heavily on touch, smell, sound and sight.
Words become a way to clinch the nonverbal meaning that provides the foundation for coupling.
When our four locally grown kids and two grandkids visit us at our beach house, they need few words to feel bonded. We go out on our boat together, and they pile into the hot tub together, feeling the intimacy that goes with “family.” It is like no other experience in life.
Words simply give detail for the nonverbal cohesiveness stronger than rubber cement between these three generations. My husband, John, and I consider ourselves extremely fortunate.
Loss Teaches Us to Love Again
Losing a parent, child, partner or beloved animal is unlike any other loss. Fearing the pain of devastation, many adults try convincing themselves that they do not need to love another. They posture that life is enough if well lived as an isolated individual, but science teaches us that human connection is the primary force to motivate humans to plod through the tough parts of being fully alive.
Knowing the depth of the mutual love of a child, partner, beloved pet or friend creates rich meaning and joy that the loss of these foundations for successful adulthood teaches us to overcome our grief as time passes and nudges us to gather the courage to go out and find another opportunity for the centrality of learning to love again after loss.
When a deep male voice on the phone told me “I’m from South Dakota,” I told myself that he sounded tall and confident. His position as a new CEO, for Biological Abstracts, encouraged mutual friends to suggest that we meet. After all, both of us were single parents, with daughters near each other in age, and we were academicians.
Now, 24 years and four grandchildren later, I am gratified that I pushed through three years of grieving for my first husband and accepted counseling from friends who told me, “You just might like this guy." I appreciate John Edward Anderson more because I have experienced the devastation of losing the man who was supposed to be the only love of my life.
Equipped with these seven skills for human intimate meaning, you now possess a simple formula for the most complex and human satisfyingly endeavor I can imagine. May these skills bring you the same degree of insight and life meaning that they have offered me and the thousands of clients whose lives I have touched to date.
ED. NOTE: Dr. Judith Coche practices clinical psychology in Stone Harbor and Philadelphia. She invites responses through her website, www.cochecenter.com.