“Intimacy is what makes a marriage, not a ceremony, not a piece of paper from the state.”
In the film “Mona Lisa Smile,” one of the central characters is a young newlywed student. She has a beautiful spectacle of a wedding, perfect by all appearances. Afterwards, she settles into her perfect home with her new husband, her list of dreams checked off. What becomes quickly apparent though is that all is not what it seems. It looks like a marriage, sounds like a marriage, photographs like a marriage, but in truth they are mugging for the camera. While at home, they’re alienated and don’t know one another.
A minister may call on the power vested in him to pronounce you husband and wife, but the label itself does not make a marriage. You have to look beyond the label to the people you are individually, and reveal yourself truthfully. We call this process intimacy. Now, this is, of course, an over- and misused term. People often use it as a euphemism for sex, like “me & the wife got intimate last night.”
Smart-el-ic that I am, I usually ask something like, “So, you guys sat down and revealed your fears about your kids leaving you with an empty nest?” People may knock boots all night, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they were intimate. I’ve known plenty of couples who connect with their genitals so they can avoid having to connect with their eyes.
Intimacy is about self-revelation. It’s about courageously risking rejection and ridicule by opening yourself to the one person you want to know you best. Here’s a cheesy way to remember it. Into-me-you-see. I am revealing myself to you in a special way so that into-me-you-see.
This kind of Intimacy begins when you authentically represent yourself to your spouse, riskily revealing more and more of yourself over time. True intimacy occurs when your partner follows suit, and the process becomes mutual. Without this kind of intimacy, you’re perfect strangers in your perfect home.