What you need to know:
- Intimacy is key to a quality life
- Research has found that people in relationships where intimacy has broken down are prone to depression, are unhappy and dissatisfied with life.
- The quality of sex in a relationship is an indicator of intimacy
What does Valentine's Day mean to your relationship? The opportunity to express how you feel through thoughtful, romantic gestures? Or is a cursory card and flowers from a forecourt all you can muster?
Valentine's Day is the one day of the year when the world pressures you to show love to each other. Yet this annual ritual can shine a spotlight on your relationship in ways that aren't always comfortable.
This is the question my Chama women were grappling with.
"Is there any value in the day apart from wearing red clothes?" a member posed, in the Chama meeting, where I was to shed light on matters to do with intimacy.
Activities of the day are meant to improve intimacy between lovers. By intimacy I mean the ability to share deep and personal private life with your partner; thoughts and feelings without reservation; and get excited in exploring each other's bodies and enjoying the pleasure of sex. It is being of the same mind, heart, and soul.
"Excuse me, I still do not understand the relationship between Valentine's Day and intimacy, I am confused," a member said.
Intimacy is key to a quality life. Research has found that people in relationships where intimacy has broken down are prone to depression. They are generally unhappy and dissatisfied with life. Their physical health also tends to deteriorate. Their sexual lives are a mess. Some do not have sex at all. The quality of sex in a relationship is an indicator of intimacy.
"So how do we bring the two in our unions?" one woman asked.
Some activities have been found to improve intimacy which you should start undertaking on this day and escalate them going forward.
There is the chance to improve your communication skills. Attend a marriage enrichment seminar or dinner on this day and learn how to communicate better with your spouse. Poor communication, including refusal to talk to your partner, is a killer of intimacy. Other negative communication styles include shouting, using abusive language, lying, and ignoring or evading discussions with your partner. Many people are also poor listeners and do not give their spouses a chance to express themselves. Poor listening skills commonly lead to misinterpretation and worsens communication.
Valentine's day can also rekindle your sex life. Poor sex skills are a killer of relationships. Most marriage seminars do offer lessons on sex but individualised sex lessons by a sex expert or therapist are more appropriate. Start your sex coaching lessons.
Closely related to this is to clarify your values around relationships and sex. Some people believe in multiple sex partners. If that is your value it is fine. If your values do not allow for multiple sex partners do not cheat. Value and action mismatch leads to internal conflict. Internal conflict is a major killer of intimacy.
"Go tell that to our husbands, it is men who cheat!" a member interrupted.
Incidentally, both men and women do cheat. This and other value conflicts in an individual can destroy intimacy.
How do you resolve conflict? People who live together will always have points of disagreement. The ability to negotiate with each other without acrimony is important in maintaining intimacy. Many marriage enrichment seminars held on Valentine's Day provide skills in problem-solving. Attend.
Then there is dream sharing. Do you talk to your partner about your future aspirations? Do they know your plans for the next five, ten, or twenty years? If you cannot envision your future together it becomes difficult to support each other. Use this Valentine's Day to discuss your future with your spouse. This will improve your intimacy.
Finally, some marriages are already on the rocks; where conflict has gone deep and where people are finding it difficult to tolerate each other. The relationship may be dysfunctional and in shambles. The bad news is that without intervention you will end up in divorce. If are in a dysfunctional relationship seek counseling and relationship therapy. Professional help can help reverse things before divorce sets in. Valentine's Day is an opportunity to seek professional help for your troubled relationship.
Happy Valentine's Day.