Intimacy doesn’t always equal sex:
“Each bump or challenge in our intimate connections offers us a perfect opportunity to deepen our level of intimacy, while allowing us to grow and evolve both individually and together.”
― Tracie Sage
Relationships can get chaotic, as there is so much we juggle in a marriage: relatives, children, and work. We can easily realize that we are distancing ourselves from our partner. We haven’t connected in days, weeks, and maybe even months. “When was the last time we had date night? Or time away from the kids?” “When was the last time we talked or we even had sex?” Oh boy, now we’re going down that rabbit hole of anxiety and worry. “Are we just not connecting like we used to?” “Does he/she not love me anymore?”
John Gottman, a researcher of how long lasting relationships work, states that all relationships have an “emotional bank account” where our actions, behaviors, and special moments are stored and can lead to greater intimacy. Now, with life and stressors and just general issues in a relationship, this intimacy can deteriorate or dimmish frequency with time. The difficult part is that word: Intimacy, when we hear it, what do we think? First thing you thought of was sex, right? Don’t feel bad, we all do! But intimacy can look like many things: that deep conversation on the couch about our family goals, hopes, and dreams…. it can be that kiss full of love at the end of day, it can be a simple embrace. I’d like you to read this quote below and reflect on it:
“Intimacy is about sharing something with your spouse that you don’t share with anybody else. It’s letting him in. It’s laughing together. And it’s also feeling that deep hunger for each other!”
― Sheila Wray Gregoire.
Now, intimacy as stated can look like many things, John Gottman outlines a few “Bids for Connection” that can help you practice small steps to regaining your intimacy again.
First let’s start small and keep growing:
Simple Request: asking your partner for something simple like getting you a glass of water. While small, this can make your partner feel as though they’re helping you, they feel needed and wanted during those times.
Bidding for conversation or venting, sharing about day: take a time out of your reunion (when either of you get home) to share about your day, vent if you need to. Reunions are often the most likely time for arguments to appear. Take turns being speaker and listener to each other, look to support and not judge the other, empathize with them, show that you’re interested.
Problem Solving and Stress Reduction: adding another layer, now that we’ve listened and supported one another, we can (IF THE PARTNER IS LOOKING FOR THAT) help find a solution to aid your partner by reducing their stress and helping them through problems and frustrating events.
Prioritize humor, laughter, and playfulness: Remember to make each other laugh, Don’t take everything too seriously, joke around, do something silly. Put some music on and dance in the living room while you clean up, put on a comedy movie, talk about the time one of you did something embarrassing, and for my fellow millennials and Gen Zers, watch some funny TikToks together.
Adventure and Exploration: Prioritize dates, hotel nights, movie nights. Make it day time: go to a museum, buy that weird sushi you always wanted to try and eat it together! This will help turn towards each other instead of away and help you connect. This can help you update your love maps and help you develop greater personal insight and a more detailed understanding of each other's life and world.
Emotional Support, Understanding, Compassion: As stated before, in a healthy relationship partners will seek each other out for emotional support. This can be the strongest pillar in building your intimacy again. This will also help you both manage stress and maintain a positive relationship over time.
Sexual Intimacy: Lastly, the big one. Sexual intimacy. The frequency can look different to every couple, but focus on making it spontaneous, open for communication, attraction, and passion. Gaze into each other’s eyes, discuss what each other likes, stay in touch, be present, and kiss often.
Building intimacy takes time and focus. If you have drifted apart, know that improving the emotional bank account back up is possible and the feeling of closeness and intimacy can be brought back.
“Couples who stay curious about each other, engaged in learning about their partners, open to growing together fare better long term. They're able to adapt to changes and navigate bumps in the road with resilience. And they maintain passion and intimacy by fueling a sense of discovery and space for fascination, mystery, and surprise.”
If you still need assistance on strengthening your relationship don’t hesitate to reach out to us as 954-903-1676 to learn how we can help you and your relationship.