We all crave intimacy and deep connection in our marriage relationship. We are wired to seek out secure attachments, and this is what helps us thrive in our life and relationships. But there is so much that stands in the way of us actually achieving deep, secure intimacy. Our work is in helping couple identify what stands in their way and how to overcome the roadblocks so they can experience the type of relationship they have always wanted.
By far one of the biggest issues that we see destroying couples’ chances of intimacy is pornography, betrayal and unwanted sexual behaviors.
This is because pornography and other unwanted sexual behaviors promote sexual fulfillment without emotional connection. It can fuel lust and addiction, and it is tempting because it avoids all the risk of true intimacy. Watching pornography does not take the courage of vulnerability. I have all the power, and I cannot be rejected. But the experience is hollow and empty and does not truly fill up our need for intimacy and attachment.
Not only that, but it creates a deep chasm in our relationship as I chose to feed my own desires over nurturing my relationship.
Because of the destruction pornography use has on a relationship, it is often accompanied by lies and deception. The typical couple who comes to see us has had a marriage ravaged by this type of betrayal, any trust or safety has been shattered. These couples come in because they want more, healing and hope, but they don’t know if it is possible.
What we share with them, and are excited to share with you, is that healing and restoration are possible. We know this not only because of our professional training and the thousands of hours we have working with couples rebuilding shattered relationship from the ground up, but we know this from personal experience as well. Our marriage was broken by lies and deception, and we know the pain of looking around at the wreckage wondering if anything can be salvaged. But as we looked around us at the pieces and the reality of the work ahead of us to heal and rebuild, we both had a strong conviction that if we were going to put in the hard work it had better be worth it!
We were not ok with just surviving, we wanted a fully thriving marriage on the other side.
We poured in time, emotional energy, money and every other resource we had to take the steps to heal. Along the way, we realized that there was no clear path for couples. This lack of a path probably meant some couples never got started on the healing journey because they did not have a vision for what was possible. For others, it meant getting stuck along the way, not knowing what the next step should be. We became passionate about helping couples see the way forward, and when we started working with Dan Drake, together we began to all flesh out a structured path that would give couples a vision and hope for healing.
The path is called the Intimacy Pyramid, and it lays out the journey of rebuilding a relationship towards healthy intimacy.
It begins with a foundation of honesty, the natural step for rebuilding a relationship after information was hidden and lies were abundant. After securing honesty, the couple moves on to safety, building reliability and trustworthiness through integrity. After safety is trust, courageously leaning into cooperation and teamwork. Finally, the couple reaches vulnerability, where both are able to risk because they have experienced the security of healthy attachment. And last, they reach intimacy. Built in this way, healthy intimacy will feel safe and balanced, and each personal will experience the ability to fully thrive in relationship.
Each of these levels includes numerous steps, and it takes courage, grit, hard work, and determination to walk this journey together.
We also encourage you to walk this journey with a trained counselor, who can help you maintain a safe structure as you heal and make sure you do not move forward more quickly than you are ready. That structure is a bit like putting a cast around the broken bone of your marriage. If you take it off too quickly, or try to run before you have demonstrated an ability to walk, you can cause more serious damage to your relationship.
This is not a quick fix, rather it is about learning a new way of living in the world and in your relationships. In 2 Corinthians 5, our call to the ministry of reconciliation is connected to our identity as a new creation! If you want healing and reconciliation in your marriage, you must be ready to face your old self who brought in the pornography and betrayal, eager for Christ to reform you into a vessel of his peace. You will be made new and your marriage will be made new, and it will not be a pain-free process. But the joy, peace and freedom on the other side it worth it!
You have the opportunity to bring healing into the places you previously brought pain, and together you have the opportunity to create a lasting connection based on truth and love.
* If you want to learn more about The Intimacy Pyramid or Matt’s new book Building True Intimacy: Creating a connection that stands the test of time, check out www.intimacypyramid.com.