“I don’t expect you to agree with me; you weren’t put on the face of this earth to validate and reinforce me. But I want you to love me — and you can’t really do that if you don’t know me. I don’t want your rejection — but I must face that possibility if I’m ever to feel accepted or secure with you. It’s time to show myself to you and confront my separateness and mortality. One day when we are no longer together on this earth, I want you to know you knew me.”
That’s what David Schnarch, Ph.D author of “Passionate Marriage: Keeping Love and Intimacy Alive in Committed Relationships,” says self-validated intimacy sounds like.
In today’s culture, we are led to believe that having an intimate marriage means the couple is aligned as one unified force, with the same preferences and views of the world.
He calls this fusion and says it ruins relationships.
Instead, David says intimacy actually develops through messy experiences of “conflict, self-validation and unilateral disclosure.”
What he means is that the pain of conflict in your marriage makes you take healing action of some sort, so it’s a catalyst. Self-validation means you are driven to express your true needs, separate from the needs of the “couple.” And uni-lateral disclosure means you are both asking for what you need as individuals inside the container of a marriage.
If you want true intimacy, you have to know yourself deeply and tell your partner who you really are and what your true needs are – not because they fit into some ideal “married couple” construct, but instead because they are your true needs. When you can maintain a clear sense of yourself, inside of a partnership, you actually increase your intimacy. You start with a relationship to yourself, and build a relationship with your partner from there.
If you are willing to show yourself as you are and call things as you see them — unilaterally — your partner is less likely to silence you because you are not asking for anything in return — only the chance to say what you feel.
Partners who are not dependent on each other’s validation to feel okay about themselves rule their marriage with their unique strengths, rather than their mutual weaknesses.
Self-validated intimacy, or “standing for yourself,” is the life jacket for partners in troubled relationships.
Playing the higher game of wanting things that benefit both of you as partners, because why would you want something that hurt your partner, is the next step in creating a passionate relationship. One of my favorite quotes was from Janis Joplin where she said, “Don’t compromise yourself, you are all you’ve got.” And then there’s the classic, “To thine own self be true.” That’s a great foundation from which to play the game of life and the game of love. What Is True For You.
With love, Susan Bratton