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Section 10
Track #10 - Tools for Using Intimacy to Isolate the Desire

Question 10 | Answer Booklet | Table of Contents | Couples
Social Worker CEU, Psychologist CE, Counselor CEU, MFT CEU

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On the last track we discussed how intimacy can be used to foster intimacy.  Topics we will discuss include the healing potential of friendship, the unconscious selection process, and a technique for overcoming limitations on intimacy. 

On this track we will continue our discussion on how to use intimacy to foster intimacy.  After initializing the Overcoming Limitations on Intimacy as on the last track, the next three steps are to identify a chronic complaint, isolate the desire, and compose a list of target activities on which to request action. 

Share on Facebook 4 Steps to Foster Intimacy with Intimacy
Next I gave Becky and Hayden some detailed instructions regarding using intimacy to foster intimacy.  My instructions were to:
Step # 1 - Identify a chronic complaint,
Step # 2 - Isolate the desire that was at the heart of the complaint, and
Step # 3 - Come up with a list of concrete, behavior that would help satisfy that desire.  
Step # 4 - Becky and Hayden were then to look at each other’s lists and rank each item according to how hard it would be to do.  I told them that sharing this information did not obligate them to meet each other needs.  

The purpose of the exercise was to educate each other so that if they wanted to foster new behavior they would have some specific guidelines.  I stated, “Any suggestion, obligation or expectation would reduce the exercise to a bargain, and there is the likelihood that it would end in resentment and failure.”

At a later session, Becky volunteered to share her list.

Three of Becky's behavior requests were:
--a. “I would like you to set aside one night a week so that we could go out for the evening.”
--b.“I would like you to introduce me to your friends when I meet you at the office for lunch next Thursday.”
--c. “I would like you to give up your separate bedroom so that we can sleep together every night.”

According to my instructions, Hayden had reviewed Becky’s requests, ranked them according to difficulty, and chose a request that he could honor with relative ease.  Because he understood that these behaviors addressed one of Becky’s unmet childhood needs, because he was allowed to rank them according to difficulty, and because he was free to choose whether to do any of them or not, Hayden found it relatively easy to comply.

A sign that Becky’s list contained some growth potential for Hayden, however, was the fact that there were some requests that he found very difficult to do.  For example, he thought it would be very hard for him to give up his own bedroom.  Hayden stated, “I really cherish my time alone.  It would be difficult for me to give that up.  I’m not willing to do that now.”  It came as no surprise to me that that was the thing Becky wanted most. 

As you probably know, one partner’s greatest desire is often matched by the other partner’s greatest resistance. Becky responded to Hayden by stating, “I don’t feel like we’re really married unless we sleep in the same bed.  I cried myself to sleep for a week after you moved out.  I really hate it!”  I reminded Becky that letting her husband know how much she wanted him to share a bedroom with her was an important piece of information for him, but it in no way obligated him to cooperate.  The only legitimate power she had in the relationship was to inform Hayden of her needs and to change her own behavior.

After reviewing Becky’s list, Hayden volunteered to share his list.  He, too, had identified a chronic complaint, isolated his desire, and composed a list of target activities.  Hayden’s main criticism of Becky was that she was too judgmental.  Hayden stated, “It seems to me that she is always criticizing me.  I had judgmental parents, so I don’t need the judgment from her.  Which, given all the information I’ve gotten in this therapy crap, is probably one of the reasons I was attracted to her.”

One of Hayden’s specific requests was that Becky praise him once a day.  Becky acknowledged that some days it would be hard for her to do that.  She stated, “I don’t think I’m being hypercritical.  I think the problem is that Hayden does a lot of irresponsible things.  The basic problem is not my attitude - it’s his behavior!”  As you know, the main reason it was difficult for Becky to praise Hayden was that she was denying the validity of Hayden’s complaint.  Becky saw herself as a realistic judge of his character, not as a perpetual critic.  Hayden had homed in on a disowned negative trait.

One of the benefits of using intimacy to foster intimacy, however, was that Becky didn’t have to agree with Hayden’s assessment of her in order for the healing process to work.  All she had to do was comply with his simple request for one compliment a day.  When she did this, she would become more aware of Hayden’s positive qualities, and eventually she would learn how immersed she had been in the role of judge and critic.

Ultimately, both Hayden and Becky would gain from the exercise. Hayden would be able to bask in some of the approval that he deserved, and Becky would be able to accept and transform a denied negative trait. In the process of healing his wife, Hayden would be becoming a more whole and loving person himself.

Share on Facebook #2  Rewards and Resistance
Finally, let’s analyze the rewards and resistance that come into play regarding this technique.  To summarize, Becky and Hayden received three productive benefits from using intimacy to foster intimacy.

The three Productive Benefits they received were:
1. The partner who requested the behavior changes was able to resolve some childhood needs,
2. The partner who made the changes recovered aspects of the lost self, and
3. The partner who made the changes satisfied repressed needs that were identical to the partner’s.

The result of this growth was an increase in positive feelings between them.  Both Becky and Hayden felt better about themselves because they had been able to satisfy each other’s fundamental needs.  Meanwhile, they felt better about their partners because their partners were helping them satisfy their needs.  This made them more willing to move beyond their resistance into more positive, nurturing behaviors.  Through this process of defining their needs and converting them into small, positive requests, they had turned their marriage into a self-sustaining vehicle for personal growth.

On this track we have discussed using intimacy to foster intimacy.  After initializing the Overcoming Limitations on Intimacy as on the last track, the next three steps are to identify a chronic complaint, isolated the desire, and compose a list of target activities on which to request action. 

On the next track we will discuss preserving and protecting friendship within the intimate relationship.  We will specifically discuss five roadblocks to friendship in the intimate relationship.  These five roadblocks are, there’s no time, “we’re not friends, we’re a couple,” “we don’t talk like friends anymore,” the ravages of conflict, and reckless words.  I find that once couples understand these roadblocks to friendship, they are better able to implement communication strategies that may help preserve friendship, ultimately resulting in a productively intimate relationship.

QUESTION 10
What are the last three steps in the technique for Overcoming Limitations on Intimacy? To select and enter your answer go to Answer Booklet.

 
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