“Your honeymoon period is over, don’t expect more out of your relationship”. Do you feel that you are at a point in your relationship where you don’t feel connected to your partner? Have you ever been a recipient of the above mentioned most dreaded statement?
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If yes, you need to do one thing: work on strengthening your emotional intimacy. When it comes to intimacy, many people mistakenly link it with sex. While physical intimacy is quite important, it is emotional intimacy that keeps you and your partner well connected to each other.
The main idea is to develop a level of emotional connection so you can see into the other’s soul and know about their fears, dreams, aspirations, and hopes. This will help you keep the ‘spark’ in your marriage alive.
Does Talking Mean Intimacy?
During the early stage of your relation, you and your partner will make extra effort to ‘get to know each other’. You may be interested in sharing new ideas, gossips from work or discussing news stories. After your relationship turns long-term, and particularly after marriage, you will mostly talk about regular, mundane stuff. This may include talking about the bills or about buying the new chair.
Such specific conversations are not what emotional intimacy is about. This intimacy requires you to have deep conversations with your partner. You and your partner should be able to show their vulnerability in each other’s presence. There is no restriction on what you should talk about. You can talk about highs and lows you experience throughout the week.
Defining Emotional Intimacy:
Emotional intimacy is the closeness that you share with your partner and in which you feel secure. It’s the aspect that makes your relationship more trustful. Psychologist Dr. Wyatt Fisher describes it as “a sense of closeness developed with another person over time“. According to experts, you can build emotional intimacy through asking questions.
Licensed psychotherapist and author, Dr. Jill Murray, believes that if you want to develop intimacy, ask questions about your partner’s needs and perspectives. Arthur Aron, a psychologist, drafted 36 questions that helped lead to emotional intimacy. In a study held in 2015, Aron gave a set of these questions to some strangers. Two of them fell in love.
What is a Lack of Emotional Intimacy?
Your marriage life doesn’t have to hit the rock bottom for you to identify that you lack emotional intimacy. While a lack of this closeness does shake the foundations of a relationship, you can still be in a happy marriage and simultaneously face the problem of lack of intimate conversations.
To ensure that your relationship lasts longer, you must have personal and tender conversations. Through these ‘heart-to-heart’ conversations, you will have a deeper understanding of your partner’s needs. It is also important to develop this closeness at the start of your relationship. Just by talking with your partner, you can achieve a high level of closeness. For that, you must have meaningful discussions.
Ask yourself one question: Is there an incident which is too personal to share with your partner? To develop intimacy, you have to do away with these inhibitions. You and your partner have to be emotionally available for each other to strengthen your relationship.The following are 15 Ways To Improve Emotional Intimacy In A Marriage few things that you and your partner can try to develop emotional intimacy.
1. Appreciates Your Individuality
Often, couples go a little too far in interdependence. They do almost everything together. Even if they go out, they hang out with their mutual friends. This is good, but an excess of everything spoils a relationship. For Amy Bishop, a couples therapist, this codependency is toxic if it has reached a point where you start losing the sense of who you are.
It is always better to separate the self from the couple. It is appreciable to do things together or sign up for activities that you both like. But it is equally important to take out time for yourself.
Each person has unique mental filters. You and your partner too can have different hobbies or preferences. Let those shine. Make a plan with your work friends without your partner and let him or her have their own activities. Set aside a self-care routine for your partner and yourself.
Having your own individual life also helps you to build trust in your relationship. When you allow yourself and your partner to enjoy some time alone you are liberating each other from feeling chained to a relationship.
2. Help Each Other Grow
You cannot help your partner grow if you avoid discussing self-improvement. There can be a nagging habit or a certain activity that you think your partner should do away with. Talk about it. Couples tend to avoid pointing out a flaw in the fear of being insensitive. There is always a better way to construct your opinion and an even better way to deliver it.
Ask your partner to name one thing that he/she thinks you should avoid or work on. Set aside time every other week to discuss things you think your partner can improve or ask him/her to tell you the same. A healthy relationship is that in which you and your partner grow and don’t remain stagnant.
3. Have a Fun List And Check The Boxes
Okay, so you may think that we are confusing you since we have just talked about how codependency can be toxic. Well, here’s the thing: spend as much time together but don’t lose the sense of your individuality. Having a separate schedule for yourself is an exercise to keep in touch with yourself which in turn help you bring more energy into your relationship.
To prevent yourself to turn into a boring couple, find out fun activities that you can take part in as a couple. Besides strengthening intimacy between the two of you, taking part in activities together will also help build some of the best memories. While making the list, think about all the things you did when you were dating or newly-weds.
Do those activities to revive the connection between each other. You can also look up for activities that you always wanted to do and try them out. Keep the list at a place from where it is visible and try to carry out the activities regularly.
4. Talk About Your Childhood
If you want to have a deep connection with your partner, talk to him or her about their childhood. You can share incidents where you were hurt or felt insecure and you can encourage your partner to do the same. Discussing childhood experiences is a good way to understand the incidents that shape your partner into an adult that you know now.
Take out old photo albums from the storage and go through them. Pause at random photos and ask your partner what was happening behind the scene. While talking about his or her childhood, your partner will be able to show their vulnerability. This sweet activity can bring you a lot closer to each other.
5. Decide for Future
It seems a bit scary and it will not as romantic as you want it to be. But, at times, it is important to talk on the topics you store for a time that never comes. Talk about what it will be like if one of you die or have a disease to fight against. These sad talks are normally avoided because we want to live in a state of utopia where worries are not allowed to enter.
You don’t necessarily have to stress yourself out over the worry of the future. But you can talk about what can be done in unexpected circumstances together and without the support of the other. This, or the talks of difficult times, will only make you a stronger couple who is not afraid of tackling the challenges. This can also make your partner feel that they can depend on you in times of need.
6. Be Book Buddies
What is it, you ask. Pick a book and read it together (not at the same time, though you can experiment on this). Discuss it and share your opinion about it. You can pick up any book from fiction and non-fiction to self-care or books on marriage. The main point of this activity is to let you share your ideas with your partner.
7. Eliminate Electronics
Face-to-face conversations trump all the rest. It doesn’t matter how cool is your meme game or how many emoticons you use in your text messages. What you should do is sit down together and talk your hearts out.
Share any work story or the slow driver you encountered on the highway or the frantic tourist who didn’t sit still in the Metro. Keep your phones on silent or shut them down and have the conversation.
8. Marriage Enrichment Activities
Many organizations, communities, and even churches exclusively organize marriage enrichment activities to allow the couple to rekindle their love. Many couples believe that this is a good way of strengthening the relationship. This investment brings big returns so if you are interested in developing emotional intimacy, you can give it a try.
9. Spend More Time Together
Marriage life has its own challenges. With children in the house, it becomes difficult to take out some time. But it is important to do so. After children have gone to put, sit down with your partner and talk. You can even divide the household chores among each other. What is essential is to take out at least an hour for your partner. And, you have to do this daily.
You can also consider the activities like having lunch together at least once a week or taking a walk around the block at night. Taking out time together without the children around or any distraction goes a long way in developing emotional intimacy of a couple.
10. Express Gratitude
It’s always good to let your partner that you appreciate him or her for all the little things that they do. Say ‘thank you’ out loud for anything that your partner has done lately. You must also express gratitude for the smallest thing that he or she does.
For example, you are in bed and want a glass of water and your partner brings it for you; say thank you. People love when they receive the assurance that they are loved and being appreciated for their small gestures.
11. Be Safe For Each Other
When you have spent a significant amount of time together, you come to know things that upset or hurt your partner. You have to be the kind of partner who doesn’t hurt the other and who work towards making them feel loved or safe. Emotional intimacy grows strongly in an environment which is safe for our partners.
There are some people who were betrayed by the very people whom they trust. They have a tendency to be bitter towards their partner. If you have the habit of belittling the other, work on it. This can have a negative effect on your marriage. Always be a listener to your partner and let them feel safe in your company.
12. Seek Help
If you feel you are unable to resolve your emotional intimacy issues, consult a family therapist. You may find yourself drifting away from your partner or not being emotionally invested in him or her. With time, dedication, and serious attention you can bring the lost magic back to your relationship.
13. Get to Know Your Partner’s Dream
For many couples, careers are reduced to a paying job which they need to keep the house running. It could be the same for you and your partner. It is good to ask your partner what he or she expects from their job and what are their aspirations. If your partner wants to pursue his or her dreams or passion, be their support. Let them know that they will always have your support.
14. Be Curious
You may have the urge to always be in the right. Accepting or even acknowledging that you were wrong is virtually impossible for you. This is where you have to make an effort. If you and your partner have opposing views, try to understand the reason for this divide.
Each person is entitled to their opinions. You should look at things through your partner’s eyes. First, understand why your partner holds this view and then try to change it (or explain why you feel that your partner is in the wrong).
15. Celebrate Good News
“I want the world to know I’m happy as can be”. Keep this attitude alive. A marriage generally loses its charm because of decreased positive things. You need to celebrate all the big and small accomplishments of your partner.
You have to show to your partner that you take pride in their achievements. A couple who celebrate positive things together has a higher level of emotional intimacy.
The Last Note
In a marriage, if you have issues with your partner, you cannot pay attention to your other roles that are created by association with your marriage. For example, you cannot efficiently perform your role of a good father or a mother if you are unhappy in your relationship.
What you have to do to develop emotional intimacy may seem a bit overwhelming. But this closeness can easily be achieved if you and your partner put the same level of efforts. These exercises will help you strengthen your relationship and make the two of you love each other even stronger.