As I mentioned in my last post I’m currently reading ScreamFree Marriage by Hal and Jenny Hunkle. In chapter three the book discusses “Authentic Self-Representation” (ASR), Dr. David Schnarch would call ASR “integrity.” Basically it is what it sounds like, authentically representing yourself to your spouse.
If you haven’t read ScreamFree Marriage or any of Dr. Schnarch then you might be asking yourself what all of this means. It’s basically this square dance that we do with ourselves and our spouse regarding our desire to be accepted by them and our desire to be accepted as our true self. If you’ve ever been embarrassed by expressing a desire, been made to feel uncomfortable for expressing a desire, or just been afraid to reveal some desire to your spouse because of their response or likely response to that desire then you know the dance but you might not know that you were doing it. This dance is a dance between the dichotomy between being accepted by our spouse and the desire to feel real intimacy (not a code word for sex) with our spouse. It’s the struggle to be accepted for who and what we truly are and that’s what real intimacy is. Being truly and honestly known.
In chapter two of ScreamFree Marriage introduces three lies that we’ve been told about marriage. Number two in that list applies directly to ASR, Trust and safety are the most important qualities in an intimate marriage. Now the key word in there is the word “intimate.” Honestly real intimacy, allowing one’s self to be truly known by another individual isn’t “safe.” You could however argue that allowing one’s self to be truly known takes a lot of trust in the person to whom you’re revealing your true self. Of course that would be exactly where we’d start the acceptance versus intimacy dance again. IF you knew that they’d accept your true self then there is no risk and it’s “safe.” That’s why I like Dr. Schnarch’s term “integrity” for ASR. When it comes right down to it you can be safe and reveal only what you know your spouse will accept about you or you can have integrity and go for a more intimate relationship by revealing your true self to your spouse without knowing whether they will accept your true self or not. As you can see real intimacy is a risky business.
So, we want to be loved and accepted for who we truly are (real intimacy) but to achieve the acceptance that we crave we’re constantly doing the dance of hiding some portion of our true self from our spouse (the antithesis of real intimacy). We have to answer a tough question, do we want to be accepted for who we truly are or do we want to be accepted for someone we aren’t? Integrity, does you have it?
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