Every year, many couples seek out ways to build deeper intimacy with their spouses and partners. Some find themselves at a loss to find a way to develop a stronger bond with their partners. Intimacy is a set of feelings that arises out of two people’s commitment to create an emotional safe haven for each other. Building and nurturing intimacy in your personal relationships takes work but is not impossible. Like a delicate flower, intimacy must be allowed to grow and flourish. It must be watered and fed with acts of love, kindness and trust. Becoming deeply intimate with your partner is not impossible, but does require nurturing and attention.
Trust is an absolute necessity when building deeper intimate connections to your partner. Without trust, a person cannot demonstrate the vulnerability necessary to maintain and intimate bond. After an erosion of trust, such as an affair, it may be harder to rebuild the level of intimacy that the couple previously enjoyed. However, it is not impossible. Trust can be demonstrated in a number of ways.
Being dependable is a major way to prove trustworthiness. If your partner is expecting you to be available to them and you are not, it can erode trust and block intimacy.
Keeping confidences. The quickest way to damage an intimate relationship is to share private, personal information with people outside the relationship. If your partner can’t be sure that you will keep their secrets it prevents them from opening up to you intimately.
Defending your partner is essential to preserving your bond. Don’t allow outsiders to mistreat or degrade your partner, even if those outsiders are family members or close friends.
In creating intimacy with your partner, it is imperative to have strong verbal communication. As is often the case, intimacy breaks down when one partner is non-communicative and avoids expressing concerns about the direction of the relationship. Additionally, the non-communicative partner may not be forthcoming when things are going well with the relationship, leading the other partner to guess about the direction and well being of the union.
In order for intimacy to grow, the couple must exercise regular, positive verbal communication. Verbal communication also includes actively listening to your partner and acknowledging his thoughts and feelings. This may be in-person communication, phone conversations, letters, cards and gifts. Positive verbal communication is essential to building and maintaining intimacy in relationships.
- Share your deepest thoughts, fears, feelings and beliefs with your partner. Opening up fully shows trust, which is paramount to any intimate relationship. Sharing helps the couple grow as a team and solidifies intimacy.
- Listen to your partner. Remember small details about conversations you’ve had with your partner. Asking about her meeting at work shows her that you’re listening to what she’s sharing with you, and that it’s important enough for you to remember.
- Tell your partner how you’re feeling. If he does something that makes you happy, let him know! Some people make the mistake of telling everyone else how wonderful their partner is—-except their partner. Letting your spouse know how appreciated and valued he is gives him the spiritual boost he needs to become more intimate with you.
Building intimacy with your partner requires time. In order for intimacy to grow, both partners have to be willing to spend quality, focused time with each other. They must pay attention to the needs of their relationship, and feed and nurture it as needed. Quality time should include time alone—away from work stresses, children, friends and distractions. The couple seeking a stronger intimate relationship should devote a set amount of time on a regular basis to be alone and have face-to-face time together. It is common in marital relationships for the couple’s focus to be on raising the children. Although it is important for the family to spend quality time together, a set amount of time should be dedicated to the nurturing of the couple’s relationship without the demands of parenting.
- Plan a date night with your spouse only. Make this a regular routine. Do not schedule any other activities to interfere with date night. Use this time to recharge and reflect on the positive parts of your relationship.
- Take a vacation alone. Taking vacations without children or other couples can be a great way to rebuild an intimate connection with your partner. Vacations don’t have to be expensive or exotic. A vacation may include sending the children to a relative’s home for the weekend and spending the time alone together.
- Turn off all distractions. Quality time means focusing solely on your partner and your relationship. Turn of cell phones, don’t answer the door and turn off the television. This shows your partner that they have your undivided attention and that they are of great importance to you.
Surprising your significant other with gifts is a fantastic way to show affection and build deeper intimacy. Giving gifts shows thoughtfulness and appreciation, and gives your relationship a boost. According to Gary Chapman, author of “Love Languages,” gift giving is one of the primary ways couples forge intimate relationships.
Gift giving is an expression of love and affection that lets the other partner know that they are appreciated. A key to building deeper intimacy is to listen to your partner’s feelings on the importance of gifts. One partner may feel that giving gifts is unimportant, while the other may feel unappreciated and unloved if they do not receive gifts. A partner who does not give gifts for birthdays, holidays and special occasions may be unintentionally blocking the path to greater intimacy. In addition to making your partner feel appreciated, giving gifts actually helps the giver feel more connected by reinforcing their position as a nurturer, provider and caregiver of the relationship. Thoughtful gift giving is one of the simplest, yet most important ways that we can develop intimate bonds with our partner.
- Give gifts for no reason at all. Giving your partner gifts between holidays and special occasions shows that you appreciate them every day, for who they are and what they do.
- Choose gifts based on your partner’s likes and preferences. Choosing the right gift shows thoughtfulness. It shows that you care enough to remember what makes them happy. Showing thought in selecting the right gift is far more important than the amount of money spent on the gift.
Experiencing life’s events together is another way to build and maintain intimacy in your partnership. These experiences need not always be positive in order for them to bring the couple closer together. In fact, many couples report a stronger sense of closeness after experiencing a tragedy or loss together. Sharing life’s ups and down creates a bond that is not easily broken. Couples seeking greater intimacy should seek out new and varied experiences in which to share.
Taking a trip, watching a movie, participating in a class together and learning a new skill are great ways to promote intimacy through shared experiences. Bonding through recreational or competitive activities is a great way to build a better relationship. Having an interest in and knowledge of your partner’s favorite activities creates a sense of togetherness, trust and warmth. Sharing a favorite movie, creating inside jokes and going to a favorite restaurant are all ways to build and share intimacy. There are many life events that help to build intimacy.
- Birth or adoption of a child. Adding a new baby to the family can enhance your bond as a parenting team.
- Moving to a new city or town. Although moving is stressful, moving to a new location can bring the couple closer as they work to re-establish themselves in the new community,
- Death or tragedy in the family. Losing a loved one is a stressful life event that can upend any family. Lean on your partner for support and offer a loving and caring haven for your spouse.
- Learning a new skill together. Engaging in a new activity as a couple is a great way to reconnect and solidify bonds with your partner.
Expressing Appreciation Verbally
Sometimes all it takes is a simple “thank you” to give your partner a spiritual lift and add intimacy to your relationship. Often, many partners immensely appreciate the things that their spouses do for them, yet fail to express that appreciation in words. Many partners prefer to express their appreciation in non-verbal ways, but fail to realize the importance of verbal confirmation.
Let your partner know that their small gestures are appreciated. Thank your partner for sitting through two hours of a movie they hated, just so that you could enjoy it. Thank your spouse for taking out the trash when it was your day to do it. Many couples don’t realize how much of an impact simple recognition has on the health of their relationship. The more a spouse verbally expresses his appreciation, the more motivated his partner will be to replicate the positive behavior.
- Make sure your appreciation is genuine. Offering insincere gratitude is more damaging than helpful and your spouse can see right through it. An example of insincere gratitude would be making a statement like “thanks for washing the dishes for once.”
- Make the gratitude specific. Statements that address the specific behavior and how it affected you are most effective. Statements like “thanks for putting gas in my car. It saved me so much time on my way to work this morning,” show your sincerity and make your partner feel as though they are nurturing and protecting you.
- Accept compliments from your partner. Remember that compliments benefit not only the receiver, but also the giver. Not accepting compliments erodes intimacy, because it signals that you don’t trust your partner’s judgment or opinions. Accepting compliments graciously is an effective way to become deeply intimate in your relationship.
- Praise your partner publicly. Tell his friends and family how much you appreciate him and all that he does for you. Thank her parents for raising her into the woman that she is. At the next family get-together, mention how great he is at fixing things around the house and how you don’t know how you would keep your sanity without him. Praising your partner openly creates the good feelings that lead to greater intimacy.
The need for human touch is universal. It is a physiological need that all humans desire. It is such a crucial need that studies have shown that babies who are not touched regularly often suffer health problems and, in extreme cases, die. People who are touched in a loving, compassionate manner are more communicative, deal better with stress and are more alert and open. According to WebMd, neurons respond positively to human touch in anxiety-provoking situations. Sometimes a simple touch is all it takes to change a person’s mood and make them more open to feeling loving experiences.
Creating deeper intimacy with your partner is literally at your fingertips. Touching your partner on a regular basis is key to restoring and maintaining good feelings in your relationship. Pay attention to how much you touch your partner on a regular basis. Engaging in positive physical contact can be accomplished in a number of ways.
Hold your partner’s hand; lightly brush her arm with your hand when you pass her, rest your hand on his knee while he’s driving. Couples who touch each other affectionately on a regular basis report greater satisfaction and happiness in their intimate relationships. Subtle ways of making physical contact have a huge impact on your relationship and foster an environment ripe for building deeper intimacy.
- Hold hands in public. This is a signal to the world that the two of you are an inseparable team. Holding hands is a simple, yet highly intimate way to give your partner affectionate physical contact.
- Make touch a part of your routine. Kiss your partner as he leaves the house. Greet your spouse at the door with a hug as she returns from work. Having a routine of touching gives your partner something to look forward to.
- Make time for physical contact. With hectic schedules and busy lives, many couples unintentionally neglect each other. Take time to reconnect with your partner. Set aside 30 minutes a day to sit quietly and hold each other.
For a couple to have spiritual intimacy, they must have a shared set of beliefs in a power greater that transcends them. Couples can build spiritual intimacy by sharing in worship services, spiritual rituals, prayer or other dictates of their beliefs. Being spiritually intimate involves knowing what values are most important to the couple and sharing in them together. Sharing in spiritual beliefs brings you and your partner on the deepest level and brings your deepest values into agreement. Creating a spiritual bond helps couples resist the temptations that threaten and erode intimacy. Couples can create deeper spiritual intimacy in a number of ways.
- Attending formal worship services and rituals together. Worshipping together reinforces the spiritual bond and gives the couple a supportive community in which to grow.
- Participating in prayer, chanting or other spiritual practices. Praying and participating in spiritual rituals together unite the couple as a cohesive unit and create firm bonds.
- Fellowshipping with other couples of the same spiritual faith. Couples who maintain relationships with other couples who share their faith find greater satisfaction in their own relationships. They find that they are more accountable to each other and have a greater intimate connection.
Many couples mistake having a sexual relationship with having a sexually intimate relationship. Sex can occur outside of intimacy, just as intimacy can occur without sex. Couples can build intimacy through sexual contact by allowing openness, vulnerability and communication to be the cornerstones of their sexual relationship.
A partner needs to feel loved, validated and appreciated in order to have strong sexual intimacy. They need to be able to express desires without feeling judged or ashamed. When couples feel free of shame and guilt, they see sexual contact as a way of expressing their deepest desires for their partner. Sexual contact is seen as healthy and natural. Couples need to feel secure in their level of commitment to their partner in order to experience true sexual intimacy.
Many couples destroy opportunities for sexual intimacy by using manipulation and coercion. Other relationships lack sexual reciprocity, which is necessary for building deeper intimacy. Sexual intimacy is often overlooked in relationships, and can be all but forgotten amidst the minutiae of parenting, paying bills and household chores. In order to have deeper sexual intimacy, couples must make regular sexual contact a priority in their relationship. Sexual contact seems to decline as couples age. Creating deeper intimacy with a spouse is important at any age.
According to Dr. Janice Swanson, doctor of psychology, licensed psychologist and sex therapist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, when confronted with the physical and emotional changes that accompany aging, many couples feel as awkward and ill prepared as they did during their first experiences. Couples who have been together for many years often have strong intimacy in other areas of their relationship, yet lack sexual intimacy. The key to building deeper intimacy is to recognize and acknowledge these changes and to find ways to make sexual intimacy a new and exciting journey.
Accepting your partner for who they are—flaws and all— is paramount in gaining deeper intimacy. In any relationship, both partners need to feel free to be who they are, without fear of disapproval from their partner. Understanding that your partner is imperfect, and has some characteristics that may never change is essential. Being accepted by your significant other is a key step in being able to open up and be vulnerable, thus creating more intimacy in the relationship. Accept that your partner is a separate individual, who may not see the world as you do. Embrace his idiosyncracies and decide that he is worthy of your love an affection in spite of them. In return, your partner should accept you, and see the flawed individual who is worthy of love and appreciation. In becoming more deeply intimate, partners should wholly accept their partners, not just tolerate them.
In any intimate relationship, there will be conflict. Avoidance of conflict is actually unhealthy, and can be a barrier to intimacy. Couples seeking greater intimacy should aim to resolve conflicts in a loving and respectful manner. Intimacy grows when one partner knows that he is free to express displeasure, anger or resentment without derailing the relationship.
Effective conflict resolution builds intimacy by making both partners understand that their investment into the relationship will not be threatened by expressing negative feelings. When conflict is resolved in a respectful and peaceable manner, intimacy grows and flourishes.
- Attack the problem, not the person. When solving conflict, it’s important that your partner knows that even though there is a problem, your relationship is still based in love and trust. Make sure she knows that even though you are in the midst of a disagreement, you still love and respect her. The security of knowing that she is still loved makes it easier to resolve conflict and preserve your connection.
- Address conflicts immediately. Allowing problems to go unaddressed causes pent-up frustration and resentment. After a while, conflicts that are not resolved cause a breakdown in communication, the withholding of loving affection and decreased quality time. Unresolved conflict is a major way to damage your intimate bond with your partner.
There are many ways to be deeply intimate in your relationships. By fostering trust, communicating in a positive manner and sharing experiences, intimacy will bloom and grow. Becoming deeply intimate in your relationships is a journey, not a destination. It is an ongoing process that, if allowed to flourish will repay you with years of happiness with your partner.
- Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages
- WebMD’s Love Secret of Happily Married Couples