Foundations of Intimate Relationships

Earlier this month I wrote about friendships and how to maintain that type of relationship. There are commonalities in all good relationships but they have different elements. In this post, I will discuss intimate relationships.

How Intimate Relationships are Different

Happy Couple in Intimate RelationshipIntimate relationships are different than friendships and most other types of relationships because they involve physical and emotional intimacy. Intimate relationships are essential to the human experience.

This relationship allows people to grow strong emotional attachments, create a strong network of support, have interdependence, and it resolves the human need to belong and love. The intimate relationship can be wonderful when it is healthy, fulfilling, and healing. Now, the question is how can you learn to be in that type of relationship?

The ICHG Formula

This formula can help you if you are creating, maintaining or improving an intimate relationship. Start with Intention, Commitment, Habits, and Goals (ICHG).

If you’d like to be a better partner, wife, or husband (Intention), what plan (Commitment) have you put in place to make sure that begins to happen right away? What habits will you put in place to achieve those goals?

ICHG is the starting point to craft your vision for your marriage. Perhaps you’re not married but are working towards marriage or a serious commitment; this recipe can help you get it right. Here are some concepts to consider when using the ICHG formula:

What does a healthy, fulfilling and healing intimate relationship look like?

  • Partners can manage conflict and differences without blaming, threatening, criticizing, or being guided by anger.
  • Both partners protect and nourish the relationship and make it a priority.
  • Both partners know how to be responsible for their own needs and for the care of the relationship.
  • Both partners feel “special” to the other.
  • Both partners can positively communicate wants, needs, feelings, and emotional issues.
  • There is unconditional love.
  • The sexual relationship works well and is mutually satisfying.
  • Both partners can and do keep agreements.
  • Both partners are honest.
  • There is no physical, verbal, or emotional abuse.
  • Both partners have healthy boundaries.

Are you really committed to working hard and smart for the best of the intimate relationship?

  • When you are committed we make sacrifices, show self-responsibility, have determination and work with a purpose in mind of bettering the relationship for.
  • You make a choice to change and work for the relationship.

Are you available emotionally to your partner?

  • Sustained intimacy requires well-developed emotional and interpersonal awareness. Intimacy requires an ability to be both separate and together participants in an intimate relationship. There needs to be a connection in which there is an emotional range involving both conflict and intense loyalty.
  • Make your partner’s feelings and thoughts equal to yours.
  • Take responsibility for your feelings.
  • Be open, transparent, and have no secrets from your partner.
  • Both partners attend to the needs of each other willingly and lovingly.

Do you know how to forgive?

  • Forgiveness starts with a mental decision; it is a choice.
  • Forgiveness is being able to let go of the resentment.
  • Forgiveness is about asking for it as well as giving it.
  • Emotional healing comes with the process of forgiveness.

These are pointers to help in the advancement of your intimate relationship. If you have any questions or need support, please contact us.

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Nicole Daniels

Nicole Daniels is a Licensed Clinical Marriage and Family Therapist (LCMFT), Substance Abuse Professional (SAP), AAMFT Approved Supervisor, and a Diplomat of American Association of Clinical Sexology from the American Board of Sexology. She received her Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology from Radford University and has served in the mental health field as a skilled therapist for more than 15 years.
Nicole Daniels
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