3 Fears that Thwart Intimacy| Episode 82

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You, like most people, may not think fear is a part of your marriage. I never thought it was a part of mine, but I learned that many of my behaviors were fear-based. In fact, when we faced our most monumental issues that brought the cracks in our marriage to light, we both had fears in our marriage. We had all 3 of these I’ll cover today.

Fear is a necessary feeling. If you burn yourself on a hot stove, the fear of enduring that pain again will make you more cautious. In this case, fear serves us well. But there is another kind of fear that keeps us from experiencing all the fullness our lives have to offer. The fear makes up stories to keep us from rising to the challenge that could make our lives even better. It’s the same in our marriages.

Here are 3 fears that thwart intimacy

You don’t share your deepest self with your spouse because you fear they might judge you or criticize you. Maybe you fear the rejection of your spouse. What are you holding back from your spouse? Are you struggling with something that you are not getting vulnerable about? I’ve struggled as each child has left the nest even though I still have one home. I felt grief, but I feared my husband would think I wasn’t looking forward to our time alone or that he wasn’t enough. I’ve gone through hormonal changes that have affected many parts of my life. I feared sharing some of those things because he might not get it. I wanted to make a huge career change, and I thought my husband would think I had lost my mind. I travailed and travailed over it before I ever brought it up, and really missed his wisdom and input.  I wanted to be seen by my husband as having it all together and to be quite honest it is impossible. See how I made up stories based on fear and didn’t share myself with my spouse?  

The next fear is you avoid conflict because you fear the outcome getting out of hand, making you uncomfortable. You do anything to keep the peace. Suppose the dynamics of your childhood family was that you couldn’t question anything, or any conflict always resulted in ugly fights. In that case, you probably do everything to keep from rocking the boat. The same is true if fights in your marriage have been ugly in the past.  The fear of conflict will cause you to give your power away to your spouse. You will have no voice, which means you will likely feel resentful. People pleasers do things and say things to make others happy with them at the expense of making themselves happy. I did this until I turned 47 years old. I did everything to make my husband think I was the best, most accommodating spouse he could have chosen. I deferred on everything but the children, and with them, I took total control, leaving my husband out. Behind that fear was the fear of abandonment or the fear I wasn’t really lovable.  I said yes when I should have said no about decisions. I had zero confidence in using my voice. You know who I resented the most? Myself. Keeping the peace and doing things or not doing things to make others happy with you is not a sign of being a great person, but it is a sign you are not living in your power. You are not honoring yourself.  

The third fear is you don’t share your needs in the bedroom for fear of being too vulnerable about what you like, or you fear hurting your spouse’s feelings. You cannot imagine how many couples don’t discuss sex. There is a fear behind that. Then, they get in ruts and start having sex by numbers- Neither spouse can enjoy the joy of a great sex life when they are stuck in old routines that may not be satisfying. A great sex life, whatever that looks like to you and your spouse, requires a significant amount of vulnerability. You need to be talking about what feels good to you and anything you’d like to be different. If you have very different ideas in frequency, you need to talk about them. What is a middle ground you could get to so that you both feel honored? Sex has to be discussed just like any other part of your relationship. We need to connect with our spouses sexually. It is a crucial ingredient to intimacy.

5 steps to face these fears and move into your power in your marriage.

  • Assess whether any of your behaviors are fear-based.
  • Determine what is behind your fear. Here’s an example: If my spouse knows everything about me, my thoughts, and my feelings, they might not love me as much. If I tell my spouse about my sexual needs and desires, they may consider it their failure as a lover or think I’m weird.
  • Consider how facing your fear and doing it anyway might improve your relationship. What if you and your spouse grew closer to one another through your vulnerability? What if you and your spouse could enjoy a better sexual relationship than ever before? What if you both looked forward to sex? What if conflicts helped you understand each other better and provided opportunities to grow??
  • Find and use your voice. You are unique and amazing. No matter what you’ve been told or how you were raised, you should always be able to share your truth without reservation, and it is not okay to be silenced. Your voice matters! If you must tell yourself daily or hourly, say it to yourself. My voice matters, and I will use it. Now, changing this mindset and putting this into practice is not easy, I will tell you from my own experience. It is frightening and uncomfortable until you practice it. Start with baby steps. Know that it may result in a change in the relationship. Your spouse won’t quite know how to handle it. They may be used to being in charge of things and feel challenged. Change is hard for most people. What someone thinks of your voice and your truth is not your problem if you do it with respect. Let go of the outcome. You aren’t in control of how someone receives you.
  • Know that facing your fears and using your unique voice will boost your confidence because you will be stepping into your power. Be brave. As you get better, it will be easier and easier. Be kind and gentle with yourself and your spouse through the process.

Think about these two things. Think about a time you were afraid about doing something, and you did it anyway. Then, it turned out better than you expected. Use those moments to remind you of your victory over fear. Then think about a time you missed out because of your fear. What did it cost you?

Intimacy is the cornerstone of a healthy marriage. It is about fully knowing and being known by our spouses. When we hold back out of fear, we will miss the joy of intimacy in our marriages.


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