Intimacy is what makes a relationship intimate or, in other words, it is what sets apart a thriving couple from two roommates.
Intimacy is way more than just sex.
It has been said many times and in many ways that real intimacy is into-me-see.
When in a couple there is real intimacy, husband and wife are fully vulnerable, open, transparent and free to be as they are, without fearing to be judged, unappreciated and not loved by their partner.
Dealing in truth
Real into-me-see is created when we stick to the truth or, in other words, when we allow our partner to see who we actually are and when we look beyond the veil of our expectations, self-agenda and mental projections and see our partner the way he or she actually is.
So, what gets in the way of intimacy is when, instead of being our true selves and allowing our spouse to see who we actually are, we try to live up to an image for fear that we won’t be loved. What also gets in the way of intimacy is when we refuse to see our partner as he or she actually is and manipulate him or her to get him or her to become the person we need (or that we think we need).
Removing the need to appear a certain way
The need to live up to something extra to feel happy stems from the false idea that happiness comes from external things like somebody else’s approval (as well as many other external things like money, success etc.)
The reality is that we don’t need love and approval to feel at peace, nor do we need any other external.
External things are nice to have, on reasonable terms, but they don’t inherently make us happy.
What external things can give us is a series of highs, which are inevitably followed by a series of lows.
Happiness induced by external things is flimsy and short-lived.
My wife comes from the Philippines and she is a native speaker of the Tagalog language.
In the Tagalog language there are two words for happiness being masaya and maligaya.
Masaya is happiness that is there when there is some kind of stimulation (for example Filipinos say that they are masaya when food is masarap or tasty or whenever there is some kind of masayang okasyon or happy occasion). This necessarily implies that when the food is not masarap and when the occasion is not masaya, the sense of masaya goes away.
Another word Filipinos use (rather rarely) is maligaya which refers to namamalaging kapanatagan or lasting peace that does not depend on the external environment.
The life of a person whose condition is maligaya is not a rollercoaster of highs and lows and such person’s happiness and fulfillment is not at the mercy of whether other people or situations are favorable.
A person who knows how to be at peace independent of external circumstances doesn’t need validation and approval to be happy and, therefore, doesn’t need to wear a mask and live up to something extra and is free to be himself or herself and fully vulnerable, honest and transparent.
Fighting cultural conditioning
Cultural conditioning can make it extremely difficult to be the kind of person who is able to be fully transparent in an intimate relationship.
Not only is my wife’s culture very strongly oriented toward external gratification, the Philippines is also the country where people are strongly driven by hiya (fear of feeling ashamed or embarrassed), amor propio (the need to protect their self-image to avoid incurring hiya) and saving face.
These deep seated cultural traits make it extremely difficult for Filipinos to be themselves and they always have to live up to somebody else’s expectations (especially the expectations of their extended family).
A person who wants to be in a relationship characterized by into-me-see must make the hard inner shift to become an internally-driven human being who doesn’t need to live up to something external and can emotionally afford to be him or herself in a relationship.
This requires getting past years of conditioning and programming, especially if a person comes from a culture, like the Filipino culture, that makes it very hard to be autentic.
So the first element to create into-me-see is removing the need to live up to something thereby allowing our partner to see who we truly are.
Seeing and accepting our partner as he or she really is
The second element is to see our partner the way he or she actually is.
Most of us have an image of how our ideal partner should be, we have a bias, our own self-agenda and these things massively get in the way of into-me-see.
Failing to accept our partner the way our partner actually is creates resistance and attempts to manipulate our partner to get him or her to conform to our agenda, our biases and our ideal image of how our partner should be.
This is a trap that many Westerners who have a long-term relationship with a Filipina fall into.
The book “Culture Shock Philippines” by Alfredo and Grace Roces says that “when day-to-day social exchanges fail to meet their expectations, some people become frustrated and antagonistic”.
When many Westerners, who come from a culture in which husband and wife leave their parents for good and build their own independent family unit, discover that a Filipina is attached to her husband as much as she is attached to her parents, and tries to please her extended family as much as she tries to please her husband, they begin to resist and manipulate to get their Filipina to conform to their model of the world.
And the same thing happens in all relationships where people fail to love, accept and appreciate their partner as he or she actually is.
Creating real intimacy is tricky
Having been in a multiethnic marriage for 20 years I realize how hard it is to create real intimacy, especially in this kind of marriage.
Letting go of years of programming and conditioning that we have to behave a certain way to be loved and that our partner must be a certain way to deserve our love is easier said than done.
But I am aware of the fact that there is no way.
As Jesus Christ said “the truth will set you free”.
Truth is our savior when it comes to creating intimacy and it creates real freedom: it frees us from the neurotic need to live up to an artificial image and it frees our partner from the need to meet our expectations to make us happy.
See also http://www.filipitaly.com/2020/09/how-to-create-intimacy-with-filipina.html