For intimacy and trust to exist in marriages, we must be present and aware. This is simple, but not easy. Being “present” means staying focused on the here and now – not thinking about some other time and place. It means that you are listening to the words your spouse is speaking, not thinking about something you have to do later.
When you are present in the moment with your spouse, you can be aware of their facial expressions, nonverbal communication, mood and needs. And when you are present with your spouse, they feel noticed by you and important to you. Staying present with your spouse in the moment is a small action, but over time it yields tremendous results in nurturing intimacy and trust in your marriage.
When you’re with your spouse but your mind is somewhere else, your spouse knows. Your spouse feels it. When you’re with your spouse and his mind is somewhere else, you know it. It’s not a good feeling. But we do it all the time.
We all have many distractions that keep us from being present with those whom we love. But when you’re with your spouse in body only with your mind elsewhere you will miss many small, spontaneous opportunities for intimacy. Intimacy isn’t just talking together, romantic acts, and sexual love. Intimacy begins with the small things.
It is nurtured through little acts of kindness such as . . .
¦ Sharing a kind, encouraging thought
¦ Noticing your spouse needs a helping hand
¦ Realizing your words were hurtful and offering an apology
¦ Noticing your spouse is frustrated and giving a kind touch
¦ Greeting your spouse with a smile and kiss
¦ Receiving a compliment from your spouse
Truly staying present in the small moments of life will help you be aware of pleasant and unpleasant marital issues requiring attention. Staying present is like sunshine illuminating the simple beautiful things around us, but also illuminating any obstacles in our way. It’s usually much easier to stay in the dark about these seemingly mundane unpleasant issues. “If I just ignore it, it will go away,” is the approach many people take.
The problem is, if the small problem isn’t attended to another one comes along and another one, until a huge strong wall of small problems divides you and your spouse eroding intimacy and trust.
Staying present and aware, and making a decision to look at a small problem makes it possible for spouses to determine what is needed, to pray together or individually for a solution, to reach out for guidance through a spiritual director or a Catholic marriage counselor, or just to talk about the problem using good communication skills. Staying present and aware can prevent a marital disaster from sneaking up on anyone.
How can you be present and aware in your marriage today?
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