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Is Your Marriage Leaking?

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Valentine's Day is almost here. Hearts and flowers are everywhere. But what if you and your loved one have drifted apart? What if you're not all that keen on your Valentine right now. It could be that your marriage is leaking.

Think of your marriage as a ball filled with intimacy. If there are holes, the intimacy is going to eeeek out until finally all you have left is a collapsed shell.

Intimacy leaks in your relationship are those that take the emotional energy out of your marriage and cool the connection between you. Leaks redirect the intimacy between the two of you and send it in another direction. Some intimacy leaks are obvious (such as #1 below) whereas others are much more subtle and easier to rationalize (such as #2-5). Here are the top 5 intimacy leaks that threaten your marriage.

1. A private friendship with someone of the same gender as your partner - I know, I know. You're going to tell me that it's innocent, it's harmless, we're old friends. However, when you invest time and energy into a friendship with someone who is the same sex as your partner, you're taking away energy from your marriage. Even if you're not being flirtatious, if you're spending time alone with this person (lunches at work, for example), you will start to develop a path of intimacy that makes your friend an easier confidante than your spouse.

2. Your Job - It can already stress a relationship when your work demands more of your time and energy than does your spouse. There is a certain necessity to employment that we simply can't avoid. However, when you start taking on extra duties and bringing work home at night, or when you choose to accept a position that requires frequent travel or a long commute, your relationship will suffer. Expanding career demands create some of the biggest intimacy leaks and are the source of trouble for many marriages.

3. Your Hobbies - Hobbies are certainly fun and are an essential part of a balanced life. However, when your hobbies become your main event or when they take up all of your time and energy, the intimacy in your marriage will decrease. Ask yourself why your hobby or sport has taken priority over time with your spouse.

4. Your Platonic Friendships - Having friendships adds a richness to life. They should be nurtured and honored. Yet, you need to take a serious look at your friendships when you begin to feel closer to your friends than your spouse. Do you confide in your friends before your spouse? Are you decreasing time with your partner in order to be with your friends? Are you redirecting your intimacy needs to escape the stress of your primary relationship?

5. Your Children - This is a controversial area, to be sure. If you're parenting children, you know that they require large quantities of time, energy, and resources. Children become an untenable intimacy leak when you begin to investing all of your emotional energy into your children. Has your partner become more of a roommate than a mate? Children can be like hand grenades to a marriage. Remember that your children's job in life is to eventually leave you. If you don't begin to plug this intimacy leak, there will be nothing left to your marriage when your children are grown-up.

Only you can know if your work, your hobbies, your friends and your children are becoming a diversion from the intimacy in your marriage. Take your own honest assessment and look at what -- if anything -- is siphoning off rich juice from your partnership. If you discover any holes, plug them up and put your attention where it needs to be: on your partner.