Creating a Safe Marriage Environment
Intimacy occurs effortlessly and naturally when two hearts are open to one another. In its most basic sense, intimacy is the experience of being close to another person and openly sharing something with them. This may or may not include words. It doesn’t necessarily require work or effort. The best approach to fostering intimacy in marriage is to focus on creating a safe environment for yourself and your spouse. When both of you feel safe, you will naturally be inclined to relax and be open. Then, intimacy simply happens. It does not require effort or conscious attention.
Think about a time when you have been hurt by your spouse. You instantly felt closed, shut down or disconnected. But have you noticed how quickly your heart reopened when the offender took responsibility for hurting you and sought forgiveness? You went from feeling completely closed to wide open in little more than a heartbeat. This is because openness is the default setting of our hearts. They were designed to be open. It’s all the junk—lies, negative messages, and hurtful behavior—that forces our hearts to shut down. But that isn’t how God created us.
Emotional safety is the bedrock of a close, open, intimate marital relationship. In this kind of secure environment, the couple wants to stay in love and harmony and feel very protected, rather than vulnerable, with each other. Emotional safety will help you create a climate in which you can build an open relationship that will grow and flourish. It will help you and your spouse feel cherished, honored, and fully alive.
Attend a marriage conference, join a couples’ group, make time for daily devotions, or take up a new hobby or activity together. Invest time in doing something constructive as a couple, and your hearts will feel safer.
In your quest to have a satisfying marriage, we want to encourage you to make emotional safety a top priority—it must be the foundation for your family to survive.
What Does Emotional Safety Mean?
Most marriage books coach you on how to use a new therapy technique, unpack some latest bit of research, or apply the five trendy steps or seven popular principles. What you really need is simply the know-how to create an emotionally safe environment.
We asked more than one thousand couples who attended a recent marriage seminar to define “emotional safety.” Listen to some of their responses:
- Feeling completely secure
- Knowing that you are loved
- Being accepted for who you are
- Feeling relaxed and less tense
- Being cared for above anyone else
- Feeling free to express who you really are
- Being loved unconditionally
- Feeling confident and less insecure
- Feeling respected
- Being with someone who is trustworthy
- Feeling comfortable around that person
- Being there for me
- Being fully understood
- Feeling valued and honored
- Loving reassurance
- Feeling a deep sense that the relationship is solid
- Allowing ourselves to open fully to give and receive love
- Not being judged
- Seeing me for who I am
- Accepting my flaws as part of the whole package
- Maintaining an atmosphere of open communication
That’s a pretty amazing list, isn’t it? Wouldn’t it feel wonderful to have all of these things as the foundation of your marital relationship? We define emotional safety as feeling free to open up and reveal who you really are, knowing that the other person will still love, understand, accept, and value you—no matter what. Wow! I want that in marriage. Don’t you?
Try to come up with five personal questions to ask your spouse that you do not know the answers to, such as her most embarrassing moment or his most memorable meal. Other suggestions? Find out what celebrities your mate has met, how many (and what kind) of pets your partner had growing up, and what your spouse has always secretly wanted to do.
You feel emotionally safe with someone when you believe that person will handle your heart—your deepest feelings and desires—with genuine interest, curiosity, and tender, loving care. In other words, you hold your heart out to the person and say, “Here is who I am—emotionally, psychologically, spiritually, and mentally. I want you to know my heart and soul. I want you to get to know who I am and appreciate who I am and value who I am. I am a very fascinating person who will take you more than one lifetime to understand!”