ASSESSING YOUR RELATIONSHIP
Dr. Tom Olschner
Those of you who have been reading this blog have already read about the first three types of intimacy. Hopefully, you’ve been using these ideas with your partner to deepen these types of intimacy in your relationship. Before we get any further along in this process, I thought it would be wise to get clear with your partner about how each of you experience intimacy in your relationship.
There is no such thing as a perfectly-intimate relationship. What is important is that you develop the kinds of intimacy that are most important to your partner…and to you. The better matched you are with your partner, the more alike will be your desire levels for the different types of intimacy. For example, I know couples who are natural playmates as they mountain bike together or backpack together. Other couples easily thrive on a shared passion for intellectual intimacy or spiritual intimacy.
But many couples are not so perfectly matched. The husband may have a strong felt need for recreational intimacy and the wife is longing for a deep emotional intimacy (to use our cultural stereotypes). My wife and I have some major differences in the kinds of things we are interested in and so we have had to work at building intimacies in our relationship. If you can discover your partner’s unfulfilled longings and meet those longings, you have just invested $10,000 in Apple in 1982. And I hope that your partner can discover and meet your unmet intimacy needs.
So I am providing two tools. The first, The Couple’s Intimacy Assessment Form is simply a sheet on which you list the levels (on a scale of 0-10) of the six types of intimacy as you currently experience them in your relationship and then the levels as you would wish them to be in your relationship. Your partner will independently fill out the same form. Then combine the information from both of your forms onto the Couple’s Intimacy Assessment Chart.
You will be able to see clearly the kinds of intimacy that are the most important to your partner and which of those are being well met and which of those are not. Ask your partner lots of questions so you can get a clear picture of what kinds of activities build that type of intimacy for your partner. Pay special attention to the types of intimacy in which there is a significant gap between what your partner currently experiences and what he or she wishes for. Then make a written plan to strengthen that type of intimacy. If your partner is reading this, then your partner is working on doing the same for you!