Are you getting all the romance, passion and joy you want in your relationship? When it comes to the opposite sex, the intimacy rules are different! This book helps you understand and overcome those differences by listening in on an ordinary couple--Matt and Sarah--and their extraordinary weekend conversation.
See what Matt and Sarah's weekend conversation was all about.
The real love language: INTIMATCY, PASSION and COMMITMENT.
To really love our partner we need all three:
INTIMACY + PASSION + COMMITMENT =
A LIFELONG LOVE AFFAIR.
Understanding your partner's particular LOVE FRAME is necessary if they are going to FEEL that you love them.
What is your partner's love frame?
Sit down with your partner, get out a couple of pieces of paper and write down your respective love frames. Then exchange love frames and talk!
Matt and Sarah are not the ideal couple. They are the typical couple. There are many conversations--in depth dialogue--that we want and need to have. This book is the place to start.
Intimacy takes place as two people connect on a deep, emotional level, sharing their feelings and secrets. When that bond forms between members of the opposite sex, well, let’s just say—other stuff also happens.
Well-known author John Gray describes what happens as a mixing of two distinct cultures, as if we’re from totally different planets. An ancient author, the writer of Genesis, describes something similar: two unique reflections of God’s image becoming one. However described, that synthesis provides a wonderfully confounding context for our attempts to achieve and sustain intimacy.
We can understand intimacy better by contrasting it to bonding. Bonding occurs when we share an important experience with another person. We study together to pass a class, we “rough it” camping for a week, we assist each selling t-shirts in a school booster club, we complete an accounting task together with a fellow employee. Such experiences bring about bonding via “project sharing.”
Men bond naturally. Since boyhood we’ve set goals and enlisted each other’s help by joining together. In the process we connect and feel close. But that connection seldom includes the need to pour out our vulnerabilities and feelings. As a matter of fact, intimacy might actually get in our way, rather than help us complete our projects.
Intimacy comes more naturally to women. From the time they are little girls, women learn the value of relating to each other in depth, and those relationships become the center of what’s important and solid in a woman’s world.
So the friction between men and women comes when a man thinks he is into intimacy but is actually into bonding, and when a woman, knowing the difference, finds herself frustrated and unfulfilled with that level of connectedness. Now, just for grins, add to the mix the fact that men often find their way to emotional intimacy through physical intimacy— something incomprehensible to many women and what have we got? A real mess.
To try and sort this mess out I found a couple willing to talk about intimacy for an entire weekend. This couple represents the different perspectives that men and women often bring to such conversations. Beyond gender differences, we also find ourselves in various situations— happily married, unhappily married, just engaged, living together, girlfriend / boyfriend, single and glad of it, dating whomever comes along, separated and relieved, divorced and lonely, widowed and wondering “What now?”—to name a few. So any effort to create the all-inclusive couple would fail before the ink dried on page one.
Meet Matt and Sarah. This particular couple is married, happily at times and not so happily at other times. They certainly don’t pretend to be the ideal couple. They’re a typical couple struggling to figure out intimacy.
Some women reading these conversations will see themselves more accurately portrayed by Matt, and some men will see themselves more in Sarah. But most women, I’m going to guess 75 percent or more, will identify with Sarah, and the same percentage is likely true for men identifying with Matt. If you do find yourself part of the sizable minority, though, flip the dialogue, and if you find yourself alternately identifying with each of them, then flip-flop!
Either way, you’ll quickly find their conversations dispensing with the superficial fluff and getting down to the genuine stuff of how we find our way into intimacy and passion. At times you’ll consider yourself in familiar territory, and then you’ll be in deep water. It will be fun, and it will be frightening. If you’re looking for straightforward honesty, however, you won’t be disappointed.
Interspersed within their freewheeling conversations are highlighted boxes and periodic interludes that summarize their thoughts and point out practical “how-to’s”—a kind of right-brain/left-brain approach. Also along the way you will find places to add your thoughts. So, feel free to evaluate, disagree, have an “aha” moment, and focus on what’s relevant to you. The important thing is to enter their conversation as a participant in the dialogue instead of an observer who stands on the outside looking in.
None of us naturally knows how intimacy and passion works for the opposite sex—we have to get into their gender world to see their perspective. Even then, when we think we’ve gotten it, something blows through our relationship that sets us back to square one, or close to it. Since we’re all a mixture of feminine and masculine traits, relating to each other is both frustrating and fascinating!
Again, allow me to introduce you to Matt and Sarah. Actually, this couple is more special than first impressions might convey. They are, after all, willing to take a weekend out of their busy lives to explore what it takes to improve the intimacy and passion between them. By joining the dialogue, you’ve made a similar commitment. We’re looking forward to seeing where it all leads.
Bonding vs. Intimacy
How would you describe the difference between bonding and intimacy?
Does this difference between bonding and intimacy affect your relationship? How so?
In what ways would you like to see your relationship grow in intimacy?
Periodic questions such as those above are meant to help you get into the conversation as a participant. If writing isn’t of interest, use them for personal reflection. If, on the other hand, you want more space to write, consider starting a journal to record your thoughts.
Once there was a man who enjoyed sex. Actually, that is an understatement. He yearned for the sense of admiration a man feels from a woman who obviously likes him and who joyfully anticipates bringing his body inside her own. Since the English language so broadly employs the word love, one could say this man loved making love.
The man’s name was Matt, and Matt loved sex so much that he would do nearly anything to experience it— climb the highest hills, swim the deepest seas. No obstacle could keep him from finding a woman interested in him.
So he set out on his quest to follow such passion.
Likewise, there once was a woman who thrived on relationships. She yearned for a special connection with a man full of understanding and affection. Someone who felt affirmed by her nurturing spirit and could, in turn, nurture her as well. She loved being cherished.
The woman’s name was Sarah, and Sarah loved being cherished so much, she would do nearly anything to experience it—gladly baring body and soul. For Sarah, just as for Matt, no difficulty could stand in the way.
So, she set off on her quest to find such intimacy.
Incidentally, Sarah liked making love and Matt liked his relationships. As we know, however, a difference exists between liking something and loving something. The man was as clear about his priority as the woman was about hers: He loved sex. She loved being cherished. They both sensed, however, there was more to it all.
While on their quest, Matt and Sarah crossed paths and found themselves drawn to each other. Thinking they had discovered kindred spirits, the couple eventually made a vow to look after one another, come good times or bad.
The first years went by quickly—like something out of a favorite fairy tale, but it wasn’t long before Matt and Sarah’s relationship grew more complicated. The fairy tale turned unsettling now and then as they experienced hazardous twists and turns in the road. They saw their friends struggle too. Some had even called it quits.
Maybe, the couple reasoned, very few fully comprehended how challenging their “for better or worse” pledge could become. They weren’t naive. The infatuation subsided early on. They were prepared for that, but they wondered about the passion? Did it have to be a casualty in their relationship as well? How can a person who loves making love and a person who loves feeling loved both have their desires fulfilled—of being loved?
It was a question that hung over their life together like a cloud.
The passing years did nothing to eliminate the difference in orientation. Quite the contrary. Between them persisted loyalty and affection, but also plenty of tension and disappointment. Differences can either give a complementary edge to a relationship or a contentious one. At the moment, the latter was winning out.
Sarah suggested they try something unusual to get back on track: a “conversation weekend” at a cabin they had occasionally vacationed in as a family. Such a peaceful setting might provide just the place to get down to the real issues and reaffirm their commitment to each other. Matt's enthusiastic response encouraged her.
Of course, given their differing orientations, he’d likely want to talk about issues related to physical intimacy. She, on the other hand, would seek to focus on matters of the heart—emotional intimacy. No matter. Whatever the topics of conversation, they looked forward to spending time with each other.
So they rented the cabin, asked his folks to watch the kids, packed up. Plans unfolded into reality and, with that, anticipation. What would happen next?
We all know the destination—love. But on the way there, sex makes the trip thoroughly entertaining!
Intimate Conversations affectionately shares wisdom through fictional dialogue. We listen in as a couple talks about issues near and dear to them— and to us. Here we’ll find allies who seek to live by life’s highest ideals, who learn to achieve its greatest potential and who partner with those desiring to share the journey.
We encourage personal character growth and the strengthening of primary relationships by cultivating intimate conversation among couples • families • friends.
365 Pages / To Order: CLICK HERE
Bill Syrios honed his understanding of intimate relationships as a pastor, father and husband over the last 45+ years. He wrote this book when challenging times in his own marriage prompted him to more deeply explore the nature of intimacy and life-long love.
Bill holds a Masters of Divinity from Fuller Theological Seminary and is the author of seven other books on spirituality and relationships. He and his wife, Teresa, live in Eugene, Oregon and have four grown sons.
Bill is the founding partner of Stewardship Properties, a real estate investment company with offices in Eugene, Kansas City, Dallas and other locations. Teresa is a neurofeedback clinician and works at Christians As Family Advocates (CAFA) in Eugene.
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