Are your relationships as intimate as they could be?
With your family
- How many times a week do you and your spouse do household chores together?
- How often in the past month have you two had a conversation in which neither of you criticized or blamed the other?
- How often in the average month do you and your spouse share a spiritual experience - worshipping, celebrating a tradition or appreciating nature together?
- How many times this week did you or your partner disclose a strong emotion - love, fear, sadness?
With a friend
- In your most recent lengthy conversation with a good friend, how many times did you stray from "safe" subjects such as current events or your busy schedules?
- How many times in the past year have you allowed a friend to see you as you are - when you've just woken up, before you've tidied the house or after you've been crying?
- How many of your friends have you told directly that you like being with them?
With a work colleague
- When you've heard of colleagues with personal troubles such as illness or family problems, how many times did you reach out to them, even by saying something like, "I know you're having a tough time. We're all here for you"?
- How often in the past month have you said a heartfelt "thank you" to a colleague who has done something for you, or "I'm sorry" when you've been wrong?
- How many times at work have you made a personal disclosure to a coworker and seen the work relationship strengthen?
What's your score?
The higher your number, the more likely you're enjoying a variety of intimate relationships. If you've scored a lot of zeros, ask yourself if your relationships are as satisfying as you'd like. If not, fear, self-doubt, an overloaded schedule or a lack of knowledge may be acting as barriers to intimacy.
As with anything worthwhile, intimacy takes work. Try taking these steps to deepen your intimate relationships.
- Learn more about yourself. Spend quiet time alone to think, meditate, accept your failings, rejoice in your successes and ponder your dreams.
- For one entire day, avoid criticizing your spouse or children. Make it two days in a row, then a week.
- If your weekly schedule doesn't permit relaxed, open-ended time
with your partner or children, alter it.
- With your friends, don't pretend everything's perfect when it's not. Putting up a good front will only deter them from offering you support.
- If you've been admiring a colleague's work, take the risk and tell him or her directly.
- Recognize that excessive eating, drinking and working are all ways to avoid closeness.
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