Intimacy, LTD

January 4, 2013

IntimacyThey were a striking couple. Dutch. In their 30s. He was handsome and she lovely. I had the pleasure of meeting them more than 10 years ago when I visited my best friend living in London at the time. All of them, my friend and this couple, were “ex-pats,” working for international corporations.

Living with “ex-pat” benefits can make international living exciting, although not without individual challenges. The couple wanted to get pregnant at the time. At first it wasn’t happening, but after some angst-ridden ups and downs, their first child was born and another followed. He moved up the ladder, and they moved to Moscow where he continued his corporate work.

Now in 2013, back home in Holland, he has a girlfriend. The husband and wife have formally separated. The children see their parents apart. What happened to this bright-eyed, brilliant (as in light) couple?

Doing the Best We Can

It’s so easy to blame the guy and say how horrible it is he’s hooked up with a girlfriend. But, it’s just not that simple! In fact, it’s complex.

It takes time to know someone.

It takes time to know someone.

What I’ve learned in the past 60+ years of being on this planet is that we are all doing the best we can. It takes time, sometimes lots of it, to know a person—to REALLY know a person! We think we know those people we’ve hung out with, especially those for long periods of time. Then, BAM! Who is that person? You say, “He isn’t the one I fell in love with!” or “…who married my sister! He’s never acted like this before!”

The couple in question did get couples counseling. Apparently, that discussion yielded clarity. He’s determined he couldn’t go back to his married life. He’s clear he wants to be with the girlfriend. And in astonishment, we ask, “How could he do that after two children and years of being married to a truly lovely person?” Here’s the answer: He couldn’t stay in the marriage. He just couldn’t. I suspect he did the best he could.

I will say outright, I know no details. I have no idea of the dynamic between the husband and wife. I am writing about this with no knowledge. So, you may rightly question my writing a blog about this relationship. In response, I say the details don’t matter. The outcome tells the tale.

It’s a Question of Intimacy

ChoicesThe outcome boils down to intimacy. They had the option of continuing to work on the marriage with professional help. He could have spent time reassessing his marriage vows and the concept of commitment. He could have taken, and probably did take, a good hard look at his children and the upheaval a divorce will impose on them. He could have “done this” or “done that,” but in the end, it doesn’t matter. He felt he had to leave.

Being intimate is maybe the most challenging task before us in this life. It means being honest about ourselves—first with ourselves and, next, if in relationship, with another. This guy ran into a roadblock, where he probably had to tighten his belt and face difficulty. He had choices. He chose to stop working on the marriage and start something new. Working on the marriage is just that—work. Starting something new can be fun, exciting, and, more than anything else, distracting. When we’re distracted, we don’t have to focus on the issue that’s been troubling us, at least while we bathe in the deliciousness of distraction. Oh, when we do, it feels so good and yet so fleeting.

The Need to Move On

Sometimes we believe we can’t tighten our belts anymore. We can’t face the music. We can’t deal with the work that needs to be done. So we find ways to distance ourselves from ourselves or from others. After all, why are so many people struggling with alcoholism, drug addiction or workaholism? People can’t be intimate with themselves. Admitting vulnerability is just not something they do. Instead, they deny their frailty and refuse to be honest with themselves.

Nine of Swords

Nine of Swords

Recently I read Tarot cards at a party. One woman drew the Nine of Swords. As you can see from the picture, a person sits up in bed with his hands over his eyes. He can’t see the beautiful spread that covers the bed nor can he see the swords neatly arranged on the wall to his left. I asked if she had trouble sleeping. She immediately said yes and explained she is so consumed by her work that she gets up at 4:30 AM and arrives at the office an hour later in an effort to get her work done. She admitted she often ends her workday late, sometimes at 7:30 PM.

I asked the woman how she was feeling. Although I can’t remember her exact response, I do remember the despair and desperation she expressed. I counseled her to start drawing boundaries around the work she could do and get help from her supervisor in handling the rest. I was adamant that she needed to take care of herself, otherwise she would get sick. Later I learned the woman was unhappy with the reading. She heard the truth but couldn’t face it. She was going to find another Tarot reader to get a more congenial interpretation of the cards.

In Conclusion

Facing the truth is hard. Admitting to vulnerability usually hurts. We don’t want to see any fissures in our armor. But what if we do? Just like the guy mentioned above, we have choices. And what if we choose to stay right where we are and deal with whatever confronts us? I believe there’s something really good on the other side of the confrontation. Confronting the block allows us to pierce a veil. We shatter another defense. We move to a deeper level of intimacy. We see our humanness. We gain wisdom. We are more conscious of who we are and what we can offer. We are more authentic.

Bev Hitchins © 2013

One Response to “Intimacy, LTD”

  1. maria bejarano Says:

    BRILLIANT ¡¡ I love your posts .. Blessings for the New Year ..I remember you and your service ,maria 

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