Peter Pearson

Are you willing to go beyond flowers, dinner and chocolate for Valentine's day?

Here's a different gift. The gift of intimacy. It will last longer than a box of chocolates and a bouquet of flowers.

The poet Rilke once advised a friend that a good marriage does not create “a quick community of spirit by tearing down and destroying all boundaries,” but rather appoints the other “guardian of his solitude.” Rilke's comments, applicable to all committed partnerships, point to the mutual respect and clarity that form the basis for genuine intimacy. Here are 10 ways to deepen your intimacy.

1. Make it emotionally safe to bring up difficult subjects.

2. Listen with openness and curiosity.

3. Attempt to elicit a fuller range of feelings during discussions and disagreements. This is how you really get to know your partner.

4. Respect your partner's desire for greater distance or closeness as expressing a need for comfort-not a personal rejection.

5. Listen without comment during disagreements, despite strong feelings being stirred.

6. Maintain perspective. See you partner as a human, not a deity or demon.

7. Be honest with yourself. True intimacy with another can't really happen until we are intimate and honest with compassion with ourselves.

8. Dare to expose your imperfections and fears. This is especially difficult since it goes against the instinct for self-protection.

9. Avoid depending on your partner to fulfill all your emotional and social needs.

10. Don't use affection, sex and loving behavior to reward or punish. Remember that understanding is more than just repeating back what your partner is telling you. If you really understand, you will be able to recap the importance, significance and/or implication of what your partner is telling you.

In order to really understand, you will probably need to recap the facts and emotions of what you hear, ask questions for clarification, and ask about the implications or symbolism of what they are telling you.

Understanding and acceptance is something we all crave. Giving it is a priceless gift.

Rilke reminds us of the connection between intimacy and a healthy ability to maintain what's separate: “Once the realization is accepted that even between the closest human beings, an infinite distance continues to exist, a wonderful living side-by-side can grow up, if they succeed in loving the distance between them which makes it possible to see each other whole and against a wide sky!”

Happy Valentine's Day:
Flowers, dinner and chocolate: $125
The gift of acceptance and understanding: priceless



Peter Pearson, Ph.D., Relationship & Teamwork Expert for Entrepreneur Couples

Pete has been training and coaching couples to become a strong team since 1984 when he co-founded The Couples Institute with his psychologist wife, Ellyn Bader.

Their popular book, “Tell Me No Lies,” is about being honest with compassion and growing stronger as a couple.

Pete has been featured on over 50 radio and television programs including “The Today Show,” "Good Morning America,” and "CBS Early Morning News,” and quoted in major publications including “The New York Times,” “Oprah Magazine,” “Redbook,” “Cosmopolitan,” and “Business Insider.”

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