CNN recently featured an article by Lee Woodruff entitled, Why Veterans Have Intimacy Issues.
In her article, Woodruff—herself the wife of a war vet—explained that for many war vet couples, the lack of intimacy is the ongoing heartache after many of the wounds of war have been healed. PTSD, chief among many psychological disorders, is one of the obstacles to gaining the communication of mind, heart, spirit, and body that intimacy requires.
- For many couples, once the acute healing is finished [the physical healing of the body], the impact of combat injury on sexual health, intimacy and fertility is perhaps the biggest heartbreak. While sexual health is a huge contributor to overall mental health, this is an often overlooked and uncomfortable subject.
Woodruff’s article points out how the psychological trauma of war results in couples feeling that intimacy is almost unreachable.
Yet, even for many of us without this kind of trauma, genuine intimacy seems almost unattainable. A simple-minded observation of soaring divorce rates would make us conclude that intimacy—the super glue holding couples together—is challenging to obtain! Much more than just sex, intimacy is the oneness of heart, mind, body, and spirit. It has 4 components: intellectual, spiritual, emotional, and sexual. Obtaining this in a relationship is increasingly unusual.
Repairing intimacy is not a quick-fix project; it is a journey. Our approach, then, to developing intimacy must reflect this idea. There is a place to start, a direction to take, and a destination to move toward.
The place we start is the position of humility: we acknowledge that, to some degree, we are needy, broken, and ready to receive help. This position frees us up to get counseling, reach out to others, and most importantly—acknowledge to our spouse that we need and want help.
The direction we take is the pathway of learning: we are life-long students of each other. By actively studying each other in pursuit of greater understanding, we will automatically increase our appreciation of each other.
The destination we move toward is oneness of heart and mind: the end of it all is to become closer to your spouse! With our stated destination of closeness, we will more easily identify factors in our relationship that either draw us away or draw us toward each other emotionally.
Although obtaining intimacy remains a huge challenge for many couples—its pursuit represents a journey of heart, soul, mind, and body that makes every step along the way more than worth the effort!