Intimacy is not a state of being so much as it is an event. It happens. It has a beginning, middle and an end. All intimacy must end. The idea that intimacy can be achieved and sustained is a popular myth more attuned to the impulse of an addict than to real life.
Real life has a rhythm to it. Day and night; hot and cold; sleep and awake; breathing in and breathing out. Maturity tunes into the rhythms of life and finds the wisdom of movement. Imagine someone who thought their last intake of air was so good that they choose not to exhale. We’d recognize immediately the folly and yet we persist in the idea that a marriage can last longer than a day.
Intimacy comes when it is not invited and the harder we hang on to it, the quicker it evaporates.
The hardest people to meet are those we know best. The only hope for monogamy is the calm acceptance of intimacy’s loss and a readiness to see the partner as if for the first time. The other plan would be to have a new partner every day. Having been married to the same person for 43 years, I hold that its possible to meet a long term partner as if for the first time.
In the course of our normal relationships, we get to know things. We learn the history of the other and we learn what food they like and what toothpaste they use. The more we know the more we become experts. We form clear ideas about the other. The trouble is that what we know is an impediment to our next meeting. I have a clear idea about the person I’ve been married to for 43 years but it has always been true and is at this moment, that she is always greater than my idea of her. The only way I can meet her is to forsake my ideas and turn toward the real person.
My ideas are all located in me but the real person is over there, beside me, outside of me. Her very presence invites me to intimacy although generally I’m too busy to notice the invitation. In the world of my own ideas, where I am always the smartest person in the room, I can...[read more]