Okay, I know this might be an uncomfortable subject for some people, but I actually feel quite comfortable discussing it. Let me clarify though, I'm not talking about physical intimacy...that is a WHOLE other post. I'm talking about the intimacy that creates emotional bonding.
My first thoughts on this subject came in response to finding out that a friend of mine does not sleep in the same bed as her husband. Part of this was due to the fact that they allowed their children to come in to their bed, so there really wasn't room for everyone. They seem very comfortable with this arrangement, but it has always left an empty feeling in my stomach.
What are my friends missing? Some might say they are missing out on the crowding, the snoring, the blanket stealing. Some might say they get a better night sleep alone. I think they are missing out on opportunities for intimacy. Not just physical...remember..that's another post, but emotional. It seems that so often throughout the day my husband and I are apart. Our whole family comes together for dinner, and we talk and associate. We spend some time in the evening together. But it is in those quiet pre-sleep moments that we really talk, and bond.
I think the need for intimacy in a relationship is what leads many people to stray. They are looking for that intimacy, but are trying to find it outside their mate. I don't think this is even a conscious act, I think they just react on their need. However, if that same effort were expended to build intimacy in their long term relationship, I think they would find their efforts much more rewarded.
Why then, would people look outside their spouse to find intimacy? I think one reason might be that intimacy requires honesty. It requires opening up. For some people that is scary, or painful. So instead, they continue to search for psuedo-intimacy with others. My guess is that they never fully find it there either.
For others, the reason might be that they are afraid of getting hurt. Those who have been hurt in the past might be more likely to hold back so that they won't get hurt again. Intimacy might seem risky to them. If they dont' fully open up to the tender moments, they won't be open to hurtful ones either.
So what is the challenge? I think it is to not be afraid to open up. I think it is to commit to long term, deep bonding. That kind of intimacy takes time. It takes practice. It takes courage. It takes honesty.