In our book and our work with clients we teach specific tools that everyone can use to affair proof their relationship. We teach that there are Three Intimacies: Self Intimacy, Conflict Intimacy and Affection Intimacy. These are the mortar, building blocks and faÁade of any relationship. Every long term loving relationship has each of these.
Self Intimacy is knowing what you feel, think and want and sharing these with your partner. It is being self aware. When we are self aware we acknowledge what is motivating us so that we can make healthier, more mature choices. We use our Emotional Self Awareness (ESA) Exercise as a tool that people can use to strengthen their Self Intimacy.
Conflict Intimacy is the ability to “do conflict well” in a relationship. This is a key tool that many couples lack. Differences and tension is inevitable in all relationships and being able to talk about these with one another is essential. The tool (the I to I Exercise) we teach in the book in detail is how to talk about our negative feelings and experiences in an open, honest, non destructive way. We also teach how to listen to a partner’s negative feelings openly, to be curious and not to take the comments personally. Conflict intimacy is challenging for each of us and therefore it takes practice, practice, practice. When couples can discuss their differences with respect and calm, they can begin the process of working through the negative while simultaneously remaining in touch with the positive, loving aspects of their relationship.
Affection Intimacy is the “gravy” in the relationship; it is the loving, sweet, sensual and sexual aspects of the relationship. It reminds us of what got us into the relationship and fed the love that grew early in the courtship.
When a couple is good at Self Intimacy and Conflict Intimacy their Affection Intimacy grows and expands. Their relationship is resilient and can handle differences and, most importantly, has a way of constructively dealing with challenges. In this context personal integrity and risks to integrity can be discussed. Fears can be presented so that secrets are not created or viewed as acceptable.
The author of Intimacy after Infidelity: How to Rebuild and Affair-Proof Your Marriage (2007, New Harbinger Publications), Dr. Solomon received his undergraduate degree at Dartmouth College and his M.A. and Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at the California School of Professional Psychology (Los Angeles). He has been in private practice in San Diego and La Jolla, California for more than 20 years.