Video Q&A: How To Build Non-Physical Intimacy, Part 2
Barry and Lori Byrne explore the question of how people can build healthy, non-physical intimacy in their relationships. Part 2 of 2.
LORI: Welcome back, guys.
BARRY: Hi, everybody. Okay, so, building non-physical intimacy, part two. Last week we talked about a couple things – and by the way, we’re going to try to make these shorter so we don’t go on and on, so maximum ten minutes. And last week we talked about making time; you can’t have real intimacy without making time to focus on intimacy and connection and knowing each other. And then secondly, we talked a little bit about communication. We have to do focused, intentional communication that lets each other know about what’s going on with each other and not focusing on negative, complaining, things like that.
Well, I have a couple things that I thought of this week that are – there’s so many areas and ways we could look at this, but I just want to mention a couple things. And these are two things to avoid because they can really hinder your efforts at building non-physical intimacy. And the first one is bringing any kind of substance abuse and sometimes even substance use when you’re using it for something – alcohol, drugs. I can’t tell you how many people I worked with in counseling who had parents who were alcoholic or drug users, drug addicts, and they just weren’t there. It wasn’t them that was really there, present; they became under the influence of a substance. And it takes the real person away and replaces it with this thing that changes your personality – maybe takes away fear that you’re not aware of, may take away inhibitions, things like that, but it doesn’t allow you to be present as a person.
I remember years ago when I was in college, a young girl that – I was young then, too – she one day was talking about, “I don’t know how I stop this pattern of – ” she’d go to bars at night and drink and end up home with some guy, some stranger, in bed. And being young, I didn’t have the courage to say it, but inside I was thinking, “Well, get a clue. Stop going out and drinking, getting drunk,” you know? And then she ends up doing things that she really didn’t like. I remember years ago talking to a neighbor, a man who had been an alcoholic and recovered. It was at a stressful time in his life; it was around the holidays he started drinking again. I talked with him, and I’d talked to him many times. And he was drunk, and he was opening up his heart, telling me all of his problems, all of his struggles, all this and that. And I realized at that time, “This is what you need to do when you’re sober. You need to be able to talk about who you are, talk about what’s troubling you, your problems, this and that, when you’re sober.” And if we use alcohol, drugs to relax us so we can talk, it doesn’t benefit. When I was doing counseling, if somebody was dealing with substance abuse, I wouldn’t see them if they were using when they came into therapy because it wasn’t really them I was dealing with. So just watch that; when you use substances to change how you feel, you’re leaving yourself behind, and you’re not developing a real relationship.
LORI: Mmhmm. That’s good.
BARRY: And the second thing, which might sound a little bit strange, but – is don’t look to Hollywood, and especially sitcoms and things like this, to give you an idea of what real relationship looks like and what working through conflicts looks like. I remember many years ago the first time I heard this from a young lady who came to me for counseling, and she was dead serious. And she said, “I learned about relationships and family relationships by watching The Brady Bunch.” You know, and it’s funny in a sense, but in another sense, she had no model; she had nothing else to look for. But Hollywood is not the place to look. Find some friends that have a good marriage, that have a good family. Hang out with them; spend time with them. Watch them; observe them and learn from them. You know the comment – I cannot watch sitcoms. I remember I had another client a few years back, a young lady that – these are all young ladies. One of the things she said at the end of her counseling – and she said it as a good thing – she says I ruined her for sitcoms, that she couldn’t enjoy sitcoms. You know, the typical plot is there’s some conflict that happens, and it could be resolved simply by just a little bit of honest communication. Instead they joke and laugh and make fun of things and don’t really tell the truth. And they kind of conflict, conflict, conflict that causes problems, problems, problems, then in the last minute of the episode, it’s all resolved in a very simple, unrealistic way. But in general, unfortunately, Hollywood is not there to build reality; they’re there to sell and to make money. And I think some people get fooled into believing this is reality, and it’s fantasy. They’re actors; they’re there to act, not to live out and show you real relationship. And unfortunately, if you look at most of the people in Hollywood, it’s hard for them to hold together relationships. It’s hard for them to live it out in endurance and persevere in a good relationship.
LORI: Good. I have just three things to add, and this definitely will not help you in building emotional intimacy, non-physical, emotional intimacy where you want to be close and connected. Holding things in is not going to help you do that. Not dealing with life, stuffing things, holding things in, not talking about it, not sharing, not working through conflict – it allows your anger to grow into bitterness, to grow into resentment, to holding grudges. And you don’t want to have any connection with somebody when you’re doing that with them. So, get it outside; start using our tools. Actually, I was thinking get the tool app and just say, “Holy Spirit, which one of these things do I need to go through with my friend, with my spouse, where I’m still holding things in, and I’m not able to really connect and open the door and trust?”
The next thing I thought again – and we kind of covered this last week, but it’s worth saying again – busyness. If you are so busy that you don’t have time to be together, then you’re not going to be able to build emotional intimacy. You have to have time. You can’t be like ships passing in the night and expect to be able to have a relationship that is going to be meaningful and worthwhile.
And then the last thing is, so many times people will say, “Well, I came from a family that doesn’t share, and then we were never connected.” And that’s true; that can have a lot of influence, but it doesn’t have the last say. You can choose to work on these things, and you can be intentional about trying to get help or just opening yourself up to be able to communicate, connect, be giving time, moving towards one another. Intentionality is a huge thing in helping you for emotional intimacy.
BARRY: That’s good. So these are a few ideas; hopefully they triggered some thoughts for some of you. It’s like, “Ah, maybe this needs to change or that needs to change.” But honestly, the bottom line is, if you really, honestly, in the bottom of your heart want – I was going to say deeper intimacy – if you really want – yeah, you do want deeper intimacy, and you want non-physical intimacy, you have to hold on to that desire. And you can pray for it, ask for it and be willing to take risks into it, be willing to try, keep trying to make a way forward, and God will make a way for you. So, we bless your spirits, all those of you who are listening who want to grow in relationship, whether it’s dating, marriage, whatever kind of relationship you’re in, we bless you to really value this as an important thing, as a way for you to represent the Lord in your life and bring His love into your relationships so you can experience it and give it. And we bless you, in Jesus’ name.