phoenix 5 - to help men and their companions overcome issues created by prostate cancer
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A selection from
cover of book

photo of Keith and Virginia Laken
with permission of
Ant Hill Press
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Looking Back
A New Definition of Intimacy

Gin, on intimacy . . .

Since dealing with the effects of impotence, I've changed my mind about the term "intimacy."

I used to think that the real core of marital intimacy was the ability to confide in each other, which would in turn lead to a trusting relationship. I also thought that if one lost the ability to be sexual, it was all right - the marriage could still grow and thrive.

But I feel differently now.

Today, the definition of marital intimacy, for me, must include physical sharing. I believe that Keith and I have to stay physically intimate with each other for our marital intimacy to survive - because when we don't, other facets of our marriage suffer.

It must be understood, however, that I'm using the term "physical intimacy" in a broad sense. I can no longer think of physical intimacy as meaning only the "traditional" sexual experience. I also, however, cannot limit it to "just hugging" - not yet, anyway Keith and I have talked about this a great deal, and we've decided that we define physical intimacy as "the intentional sharing of one's body for giving and receiving pleasure."

By "intentional" we mean that one is specific about engaging in the activity. By "pleasure" we mean "any physical act a couple agrees upon as being mutually satisfying."

While physical pleasure, for us, currently incorporates arousal, intercourse and orgasm (usually), I do understand that there could come a time when circumstances dictate that we have to change our way of achieving physical pleasure. Perhaps only one of us might desire arousal. Perhaps we might have to go back to exclusively oral sex. Perhaps we'll someday arrive at a point where hugging is all we want to do.

But if and when such a time comes, I will try my best to live by my definition - making sure that, whatever we do, we'll create a

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