What’s the Task?
The bad news is that emotional intimacy is not natural. However, couples fall prey to thinking that if there’s enough love and enough kindness, then the depth of emotional connection is inevitable. What is natural is sliding into an enmeshed or fused relationship where one member is sacrificing his or her individuality, typically, in the name of harmony. If emotional intimacy is something about two unique individuals sharing their inner lives, a fused relationship falls quite short. The other natural path is an estranged or alienated relationship where two people remain self-reliant and emotionally separate from one another. One a couple wonders down the fused or enmeshed path there are tasks and accompanying questions which can help point them toward genuine intimacy: Do I tend to dominate my partner? Do I attempt to exercise influence over my partner? Do I acquiesce, letting my partner make most decisions? Am I hesitate to express my opinions if they are different from my partner’s? Does my partner know what I value and want from life? Do I fear conflict with my partner? If a couple wonders down the alienated path, then these questions can be a helpful guiding system: Do I fear depending on my partner? Do I fear being controlled by my partner? Am I willing to feel vulnerable in my partner’s presence? Am I willing to ask my partner for what I want from him or her? Does my partner know me? How do I feel about the way we deal with having differing views and preferences? Does the way we handle conflict feel creative and supportive?