Saturday, September 9, 2017

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When people think of the word “intimacy”, their mind typically tracks towards sex. While sexual intimacy is vital to relationships, maintaining a strong emotional bond during a marriage is as challenging as it is important ensuring your relationship remains healthy and continues to grow. Taking the steps to develop, strengthen and sustain intimacy demonstrates your commitment to a loving, lasting, happy marriage. Additionally, you’ll be a better man, husband, friend, and partner.

In seeking to make intimacy more a part of your relationship, it is important to recognize that intimacy is relational. Intimacy is not something you can do on your own, the degrees of intimacy possible in a relationship is dependent on there being a shared commitment and interest. Negotiating and building intimacy in relationships is, therefore, dependent on a clear knowledge of your own and a partner’s preferences and a will to put time and energy into the relationship.

As with any aspect of a relationship, intimacy must be nurtured and cared for continuously. Below is a list of tips to help improve the intimacy in your marriage:
  • Identify that intimacy is its strongest outside of the bedroom. It is extremely critical to clearly distinguish sexual intimacy from other forms of intimacy.
    • Emotional Intimacy – you are able to share a wide range of both positive and negative feelings without fear of judgment or rejection
    • Physical Intimacy – The delight in being sensual, playful, and sensitive in sexual intimacy that is joyful and fulfilling for both partners.
    • Intellectual Intimacy – Sharing ideas or talking about issues or even hotly debating opinions and still respect each other’s beliefs and views
    • Spiritual Intimacy – discussing how spirituality works in your lives, in such a way that you respect each other’s particular spiritual needs and beliefs
    • Conflict Intimacy – the ability to work through our differences in a fair way, and reach solutions that are broadly and mutually satisfactory, recognizing that perfect solutions are not part of human life.
    • Work Intimacy – You are able to agree on ways to share the common loads of tasks in maintaining your home, incomes, and pursuing other mutually agreed goals.
    • Parenting Intimacy – If you have children, you have developed shared ways of being supportive to each other while enabling your children to grow and develop as individuals.
    • Crisis Intimacy – You are able to stand together in times of crisis, both external and internal to your relationship and offer support and understanding.
    • Play Intimacy – Having fun together, through recreation, relaxation or humor.
  • Be a better listener: Intimacy is about understanding and appreciating your wife’s desires and interests. Being a better listener means more than not watching TV while she’s talking, it’s about caring enough to ask the questions that will further the conversation. 
  • Let her rest: If she’s had a long week of work, the kids are being more than a handful or life is weighing heavily on her shoulders, give her a chance to recharge her batteries. Often.
  • Put her goals first: Give her time to learn and grow herself. Invest in her goals and support her dreams. If your wife feels like she’s growing as a woman and person, she will be happier and healthier – so will your entire family.
  • Show her intimacy without expectation: Show her how much you love her without wanting anything in return. She will likely give you things you weren’t even asking for.
  • Make her feel noticed: Let her know she looks beautiful when she takes the time to look pretty. Attention is a human need, your wife isn’t any different, pay attention (even when she makes you late and compliment her as often as possible.
  • Write a mission statement: Take the time to write the expectations for your marriage. Sitting down and sharing goals is an extremely intimate experience. Deciding where to take your family together is the first step in getting where you’ve always wanted to go.
  • Put her first: Value your wife above everyone else and make sure she knows how you feel. Your friends will always be around, your parents are family, but your wife should feel like she’s the most important person in your life.
  • Court her: Remember how easy intimacy seemed before you said, “I do!” Intimacy doesn’t end after you get married, but it’s up to you to bring it back. You’ve caught her, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t ever want to be chased.
  • Spend quality time together: Invite her for some quality alone time. Mark it on the calendar and don’t let anything get in the way. She deserves the attention and will appreciate having it.
  • Silence the electronics – Stop the world. Put down the phones, tablets, turn off the TV and other devices to unplug from the distractions that keep you and your partner from connecting.
  • Be safe for your spouse - We need to be so careful to be safe for our spouses – to understand what might hurt them and to avoid that, and then to know what we can do to help our partners feel loved and valued and do that. 
  • Seek a balance between self and couple - The strongest marriage relationships have two interdependent partners and they invest together in the marriage relationship. Too much inseparability can be a bad thing if it deprives the relationship of the fruitfulness that interdependence brings. So make sure to engage in some good self-care as the husband and allow your wife to do the same in her personal life.
  • Consider marriage enrichment activities - Getting into an organized setting with other couples and a professional counselor can really help develop a deeper and stronger marriage. This kind of focused commitment to improving emotional intimacy is a big investment, but it brings big returns. Consider the Beyond the Broom Marriage Enrichment Series session on Developing True Intimacy. (Shameless plug)

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The Beyond the Broom Marriage Enrichment Series is designed for couples who want to discuss, learn, explore and strengthen their relationship with intentionality. The structured dialogue provides couples with a safe space to learn and share with one another in efforts to increase effectiveness, appreciation, awareness of strengths and improvement in potentially marriage-threatening areas.

All participant couples arrive with the same purpose – strengthen and grow their relationship in an affirming environment. Beyond the Broom recognizes that while each relationship has its unique experiences and challenges, strengthening the foundation skills of communication, intimacy, finances, and goal-setting can lead to maintaining happier, healthier marriages.

The Beyond the Broom Marriage Enrichment Series consists of 20 hours of instructional input, intensive dialogue and implementation content developed to improve the quality of marriage of those in attendance. The overall effectiveness of the group relies on the voluntary sharing of its participants, which creates a meaningful group experience for attendees and allows for a more effective exchange of ideas and information.

Each workshop is designed to serve approximately six couples, at varying stages of their marriages, who are committed to growing in their marriage and individually. These couples may arrive with healthy marriages or faced with serious challenges, but a couple in a hostile relationship that disrupts the group will be recommended to seek couples counseling.

The Marriage Enrichment Series is conducted in five monthly sessions and facilitated by Sharea Farmer, LCSW and her husband Al-Lateef Farmer. The sessions will be held at RS Counseling & Wellness Center in Cinnaminson, NJ. Each session requires a $30 registration fee and completed couples inventory before your preferred session date.

Healthy Communication - Saturday, August 26 
Learning to identify, name and appreciate our feelings and those of our spouses is one of marriage’s most difficult challenges. This workshop is designed to implement the practical steps to improve communication as a couple. More Information & Registration

Discovering True Intimacy - Saturday, September 23
True intimacy is reached only when two persons know themselves, develop as individuals, and out of an awareness of their own identity and value. In a relationship, this is achieved through a mutual understanding of the stated needs and expectations of partners and commitment to giving themselves wholly towards the fulfillment of those needs and expectations. More Information and Registration More Information & Registration

Yours, Mine, Ours - Saturday, October 21
Poor financial habits or mismanagement of a couple’s finances has led “money issues” to be the third leading cause of divorce in the United States. Learning the language to create an environment for honest, constructive conversations about finances can be the foundation for being a financially healthy and secure family. More Information & RegistrationMore Information & Registration

Fighting Fair: Rules of Engagement During Conflict - Saturday, November 11
It isn’t always easy, but couples must fight fairly for the survival of the relationship, so learning or creating do’s and don’ts during a fight is essential in maintaining a healthy marriage. Ultimately, these conflicts can be used as opportunities for growth and bring couples’ closer together. More Information & RegistrationMore Information & Registration

The G.A.M.E. Plan - Saturday, December 9
It is often valuable to consider how rewarding and fulfilling your marriage is over time and working through differences can authentically increase the gratification and intimacy in your marriage. We have developed our “G.A.M.E. Plan” to assist the intentional progression of couples. “G.A.M.E.” is an acronym for goals, affirmation, mission statement, and environment. More Information & Registration

My Top 3 Go-To Movies About Black Love 

Love Jones (1997)
I remember the first time watching Larenz Tate and Nia Long connect in what now I can only describe as a story of the new Renaissance’s man and woman. The love story explores the emotional, intellectual and physical levels of Love, making their passion and love illuminate from the screen. Tying it together through photography and spoken word only strengthens my love.

(Photo: Addis Wechsler Pictures)

Love & Basketball (2000)
When I heard they were making a movie tying basketball and love, I knew it was going to be great. Then you add a cast that included Omar Epps and Sanaa Lathan, simply perfection. This movie includes a scene of one the most passionate competition of basketball that mimics the true desire to fight for love through every quarter of life, in hopes to win it all..

(Photo: 40 Acres and A Mule Filmworks)

Mahogany (1975)
This is one of those movies that highlight’s Diana Ross popularity throughout the 70s.  Diana Ross and Billy Dee Williams’s characters are taken through a roller coaster ride in both careers and love. Billy Dee Williams, wants her to decide between her promising fashion career and him. As the feminist in me is screaming “bloody hell” to the overall plot. Honestly, this movie still holds a piece of my heart and one of the best quotes ever. “Success is nothing without someone you love to share it with!”   

(Photo: Motown Productions)

Honorable Mention:

Middle of Nowhere (2012)

This movie is one of the first love stories I’ve ever seen that allowed the female lead to have contradictory emotions; making it painfully realistic. It takes you on a journey of working black woman who has decided to put her dreams on hold to support her incarcerated husband. The realistically complicated woman goes through ups in downs throughout the movie. And with the deterioration of her marriage she develops an attraction to someone new only complicating thinks further….For more you are have to go check it out… 

What are some of your favorite Black Love Movies?