Intimate connection with others is essential for each of us. This is especially true in a marriage. You need your spouse to be available to you, and you need to be available, as well. When people feel secure in their marriages, they can turn their attention to other things, such as careers, children or education. You can more easily go out into the world, when you have someone beside you, whom you can count on to be there for you.
When you feel insecure about your spouse, or when your spouse is unreliable, it is more difficult to act with confidence in new or challenging situations. Marriage partners need a touch point from which to work. We are dependent on each other for our emotional security. And that's not a bad thing. It's just not always easy to navigate differences over what we need from each other. Discuss your differences with honesty and respect.
Communicate your needs
Marriage partners should be able to feel safe enough with their spouses to share both successes and fears. It's important that you communicate your needs to your significant other. Marriage is not a forum for playing mind games. Don't pull away from your spouse, and don't make him guess what's on your mind. Take emotional risks. Don't be afraid of commitment. Let her know what you need.
Find the right level of intimacy for the two of you
What if your partner is either threatened by intimacy or seems to demand too much togetherness? Most psychologists agree that there are three basic ways we connect with or attach to each other. Psychologists refer to the ways we connect as attachment styles. In essence, these three attachment styles are: anxious, avoidant and secure. Our attachment style determines the way we address our own needs, the way in which we go about getting those needs met, and the way we respond to our partner's needs.
Be confident about who you are, and don't personalize your spouse's behavior
People who are securely attached to others find it relatively simple to interact with others. They are confident about who they are, and they don't tend to personalize other people's behavior. They are also comfortable in their own skins, and they don't avoid intimacy with others.
Dr. Phillip Shaver and Dr. Cindy Hazan from the University of Denver in an article titled "Romantic Love Conceptualized as an Attachment Process," found that about 60 percent of people have a secure attachment style, while 20 percent have an anxious attachment style, and the other 20 percent have an avoidant attachment style.
According to an article written by Lisa Firestone, published in Psychology Today on July 30, 2013, "securely attached adults tend to be more satisfied in their relationships." People with an anxious attachment style are "frequently looking to their partner to rescue or complete them." [They may be in love with love.] People with an avoidant attachment style feel "pseudo-independent...and come off as focused on themselves." In other words, intimacy frightens them.
Work through intimacy differences together
If you have a secure attachment style, you can reassure a spouse with an anxious attachment style, or help a spouse with an avoidant attachment style feel safe. If you are one of the other 40 percent who have either an anxious attachment style, or an avoidant attachment style, and you are not married to someone with a secure attachment style, you will need to work together to understand the other's intimacy needs and emotional defenses.
If you can't find ways to resolve your intimacy conflicts, it may help to learn to adjust your expectations regarding how much intimacy you can reasonably expect from your partner. A good therapist can help you work through intimacy issues, if you're stuck, and you're both open to change.
Our sense of well-being generally depends on important others. And that's not a bad thing. To behave otherwise is to ignore both our needs and the needs of those we care most deeply about. Close connections make for happy marriages.