Staying indoors and staying safe during COVID-19 may prove a challenge to some couples. It might mean getting reacquainted with the “stranger” laying across the bed. It could also mean more distancing. Intimacy is tough to cultivate at the usual hectic pace we’ve grown accustomed to in our lives. However, it is fundamental to our ability to achieve well-being and is a basic human need.
Bonnie Raitt sings, “Come to my window, come inside, wait by the light of the moon, come to my window, I’ll be home soon.” As women, we wear so many different hats and spend so much of our day giving of ourselves to others, that as the author of The Sexual Alarm System: Women’s Response to Sexual Intimacy and How to Overcome It suggests, we really need to come home to our bodies first, feel safe and comfortable in our bodies first, in order to be truly intimate.
No woman wants to feel as though their intimate partner just sees them as a warm body to relieve themselves with. Have a good listen to the entire song. It might give a little insight into unlocking the deepest needs of a woman to be approached gently, slowly and with caring. This creates connection. But more importantly it makes the woman feel safe and when women feel safe, we are more open. A soft touch and pacing of foreplay allows the woman to collect her scattered pieces that have been strewn throughout her day.
I believe as women, we still have to learn to be fully in our bodies either sensually or sexually. Messages about our sexuality are warped from early through silencing or ignorance. Adolescence usually becomes an unsafe and uncertain period for our bodies. Furthermore, we tend to lose closeness with our fathers, as they distance themselves from our developing bodies where hugging or being affectionate lessens. To the other extreme are fathers who conduct themselves inappropriately and ogle or fondle us. Coming into our own, bodily, is not always easy.
Throw into the mix the further complication of men and their masculine identity that dictates that they remain strong, aloof and independent. The opposite of intimacy. For some men, tenderness, compassion and other feelings linked to their feminine side can be threatening. Fortunately, this is changing. Young men are getting better at expressing both sides and not feeling the need to defend and stand in “old fashioned” masculinity.
These stereotypes of masculinity can spill over into finances for couples. The way partners in a committed intimate relationship handle their earnings is a good predictor of how satisfied they are in their relationship.
Money, Power and Gender in Intimate Relationships writer indicates that greater equality in access to and control of finances, translates into a wife who believes that her husband is fair, supportive and understanding. The unhealthiest development in this type of bond occurs when the couples are always engaged in a “something for something transaction”. This can lead to perpetual resentment and conflict which only devalues the other’s contribution. Oftentimes, it’s better to trust or have confidence that your partner is doing their part. If conflict arises, then deeper discussion is needed around how you can be mutually supportive in making your day run more smoothly.
Good communication and mutual support are key to deepening your bond. For intimacy to flourish, gentle honesty, love, caring and passion make this possible. It can start with talking about and honouring the things that are important to both of you. Holding hands, massaging away the tension of the day, eye-to-eye contact, a gentle touch on the first meeting… all can signal that you are ready for intimacy. Each couple has their code and it can be as simple as opening a window to let the breeze in.
Clinical Mental Health Counsellor & Expressive Arts therapist
Gaia Creative Arts Counselling