Sunday, November 14, 2010

Intimacy Conference

Our church had an incredible conference this weekend about intimacy. There was quite a bit of teasing beforehand about it being the "sex" conference and this being both a draw and a turn-off for the poor men whose wives "dragged" them into attendance. Whatever joking was done beforehand, though, I don't think anyone left there without much to ponder on relationships and intimacy. Here are the top ten things I learned this weekend:
(disclaimer--absolutely every word that I am using here is unabashedly stolen from the wonderful counselor, psychologist, and Reformed Theological Seminary professor Dr. Jim Coffield) 
1. Everyone, young or old, lives in the tension of wanting desperately to be known and on the other hand wanting desperately to be safe. Because of this, we must risk discomfort in order to gain growth. We have two choices in relationships: risk or exist.
2.  There is another tension in intimate relationships between being individual and being one. This is only perfectly shown in the trinity (Our God is perfectly three and perfectly one.) In marriage it is easy to become too similar or too separate; it is difficult to be uniquely self as well as one with your spouse.
3. Some clear building blocks for intimacy are: having mutually agreed upon common tasks; searching out new and novel experiences; being vulnerable; sharing spirituality; sharing focused time; and (for spouses) physical touch. (Incidentally Coffield pointed out that this is why teens always pair off after a missions trip. Think about it; they have experienced each one of these to a degree so they feel "in love.")
4. You cannot be intimate if: you are too concerned with image; you don't know your true self; you are too stressed; you are worried about protecting self.
5. Great relationships have high warmth (love), low conflict (not no conflict), and high pleasure/fun. God allows conflict so that we can see and understand one another. Conflict should make us curious not resentful.
6. Males and females each reflect beautiful parts of our God. The male reflects the fact that God is strong, He is present, and He is knowable. The woman reflects that God is good, beautiful, creative and mysterious.
7. At the core, intimacy is really about integrity.
8. Intimacy is not about how special or great you are! Real love is based on this: "You are completely ordinary, and I love you because of God!"
9. In every relationship we have two choices: Manipulate or Minister. This means that we can try to direct how the relationship goes, what is talked about, what is focused upon, OR we can leave that to God and follow his leading--this will almost always take us to focusing on the other person (i.e. ministering to that person).
10. Being able to self-soothe is a valuable asset in relationships. Another way to put this is that individuals are able to understand and acknowledge their own feelings as well as regulate them by taking them to God. This alleviates the need to "dump" feelings on a spouse or friend. Instead we are able to truly share feelings without making others responsible for them.
Linked to Makes My Monday,  Top Ten Tuesday, and Toot Your Horn Tuesday.


  1. Awesome points! Can't wait to listen to this!

  2. Oh my gosh, what WONDERFUL insights! I love these!

    Thank you so much for Making My Monday by playing along!

  3. Olivia, Dr Coffield was a psych professor at Bryan while B and I were there :-) We both had him for at least one class.

  4. This sounds like it was an ahhhhhh-mazing conference. Any chance I can hear some of it online? I'll have to check out the website...
    So glad you were able to attend!!