“Intimacy” includes physical closeness and to many, this quickly gets translated to mean a sexual relationship.
Of course, married love includes sex, as it should, but long-married couples will often relate that the sexual part of their relationship is only one of many ways they are intimate with each other.
Other forms of intimacy are emotional, intellectual, heart-to-heart conversations, working together at common goals, and spiritual intimacy. True marital intimacy usually involves being honest with your spouse and allowing yourself to be vulnerable.
Because you know your spouse well and trust him/her not to hurt you, you are willing to give yourself completely and risk the unknown.
In emotional intimacy, a couple shares their joys, fears, frustrations, sorrows, and, yes, anger with each other. This doesn’t mean that spouses yell and scream at each other- or, worse, hit each other- but it does mean that hard feelings can be shared, too. The challenge is to find ways to do this respectfully.
It can be scary at times to let down one’s emotional guard, but when trust is developed over time, it feels safe. Emotional intimacy is one of the strongest bonders in a marriage.
It is violated when a spouse shares intimate thoughts and feelings with a friend, co-worker, or on- line. This can feel like a betrayal even though it doesn’t involve sexual infidelity.
The 4 Types of Intimacy
Before you can work on intimacy in marriage, it’s important to understand the four main types: emotional, intellectual, sexual, and experiential intimacy. Let’s explore these in terms of how they apply to a romantic relationship:
- Emotional intimacy: People experience emotional intimacy when they feel comfortable sharing their feelings—good and bad—with each other. For example, you tell your spouse that you feel insecure about your body after gaining a few pounds.
- Intellectual intimacy: When it comes to intellectual intimacy, people feel safe sharing their ideas and opinions, even when they don’t see eye to eye on the matter. For example, you and your spouse discuss your personal political opinions, even though you follow different parties.
- Sexual intimacy: Sexual intimacy occurs when people engage in sensual or sexual activities. For example, your spouse pulls you in close, lifts your chin, and kisses you passionately.
- Experiential intimacy: People engage in experiential intimacy when they bond during day-to-day activities or work together to accomplish a mission. For example, you help your spouse fix the flat tire on your car, handing her the tools she needs.
Again, intimacy in marriage is about forming a bond and developing an unequivocal closeness. Naturally, as we get to know someone we’re romantically interested in, we both explore and fulfill emotional, intellectual, sexual, and experiential intimacy. But as we get closer and more comfortable with the other individual, that intimacy can die down.
Keep the Flame Alive: Tips
Don’t worry. If you and your spouse are lacking that emotional, intellectual, sexual, or experiential intimacy, you can find that spark again. Here are 5 tips that will help you to improve every type of intimacy in marriage:
1. Seek out new experiences.
As we touched on earlier, intimacy isn’t just about a physical connection. It’s also about closeness and familiarity. With that in mind, one of the best ways to improve intimacy with your spouse is to revel in new experiences. For example, you could embark on a major project together like renovating or flipping a house. Or, you might consider adding a new member to your family and adopting a dog! If you aren’t ready for such commitments, you could book a trip to an unfamiliar country and explore its depths together. These experiences are designed to challenge you—they’ll force you two to work closely together, and maybe even argue or despise each other along the way, all while ultimately solidifying your bond further and improving intimacy in your marriage.
2. Relish in your comfort and connection.
When we first start dating someone, everything is new and exciting. We experience intense emotions as we get to know the individual and become intimate with each other. Over time, though, this novelty and excitement lessen. While this can be disappointing, there is a flip side: the connection is deeper than ever before, signified by the comfort you feel in each other’s company. So, you can improve your intimacy with your spouse by thinking back to the initial stages of your relationship, appreciating its development, and relishing in just how comfortable you feel with your spouse. This is key to fostering intimacy in marriage.
3. Change up your routine.
On the other hand, it’s also helpful to switch up your routine every now and then to induce those intense emotions again. Go out of your way to do the unexpected and surprise your spouse. For example, book a weekend getaway and have everything ready to go—book the hotel, pack the bags, fill the car up with gas. You can also change up your routine and improve intimacy by spending a little time apart. There’s nothing wrong with taking separate trips every now and then. This will give you the chance to miss each other and you’ll feel happy and excited when you’re reunited.
4. Maintain good avenues of communication.
Often, we don’t set aside time to have a proper conversation with our spouse—be it about the love we have for them or, on the other hand, a problem in the relationship. However, maintaining good avenues of communication can supplement our effort to improve intimacy in marriage and to keep the flame alive Adina Mahalli, certified relationship consultant and sexual health expert, explains: “Relationships are constant work and can fall apart if there isn’t effort put in to maintain it. Small things go a long way while maintaining intimacy, and resentment can build up quickly if there are not good avenues of communication,” Mahalli explains. “Knowing and explaining to your partner on a regular basis why you’re in love with them and how you feel about them is another way to keep the flame burning. Disagreeing is also an important aspect of any relationship. Being able to calmly and respectfully tell your partner the issues you’re having is essential for maintaining intimacy. Silence is the silent killer of relationships.”
5. Demonstrate your love and support often.
Make a habit out of showing your spouse that you love, care for, and support them. Many of us assume or insist that our partners know we love them—but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t remind our spouses through both our words and our actions on a regular basis. For example, when your spouse gets home from work, look into their eyes and then kiss them. Ask how their day was. Put gas in their car. Write a cute message for them to find on the whiteboard in the kitchen. Find small ways to remind them that you care. This will help to improve with your spouse and keep that flame burning indefinitely.
How Can You Fix Intimacy Issues?
If you’re having intimacy issues in your marriage, there are a few things you can do to try to improve the situation. Intimacy is about so much more than just sex, but that doesn’t mean that sex isn’t important. If you and your spouse are struggling with intimacy, it may be helpful to talk to a therapist or counselor who can help you work through the underlying issues. Here are a few other things that may help:
1. Talk about your needs and expectations.
If you’re not happy with the level of intimacy in your marriage, it’s important to talk about it with your spouse. Discuss your needs and expectations for intimacy in your relationship. This can be a difficult conversation, but it’s important to have if you want things to improve.
2. Make time for each other.
Intimacy requires time and effort. If you want to improve intimacy in your marriage, you need to make time for each other. This means setting aside time for date nights, weekends away, or just time to spend together without distractions. You may also need to get creative if you have kids. Intimacy doesn’t always have to mean sex—it can also be about cuddling, talking, or just spending time together.
3. Be willing to try new things.
If you’re in a rut, it may be helpful to spice things up and try new things. This could mean anything from trying new positions or experimenting with new techniques to adding some excitement to your sex life by incorporating toys or role-play.
4. Seek help from a professional.
It can be tough to fix intimacy problems without professional assistance. It’s often more efficient to work with a couple’s therapist to solve these issues. When one person in a marriage has problems with intimacy, it can make the other feel inadequate. If both people have separate problems, then significant work needs to be done, but things can get better.
Intimacy plays an important role in a happy and healthy marriage. If you’re struggling with intimacy in your relationship, don’t be afraid to seek help from a professional. Often, couples’ therapy can be very helpful in these situations. Intimacy is about so much more than just sex—it’s about developing a deep connection with your spouse. By working on intimacy in your marriage, you can improve your relationship and make it stronger than ever.
Intimacy in marriage is both important and complex. It’s about more than just sex, but sex is still an important part of intimacy. If you’re struggling with intimacy in your marriage, don’t be afraid to seek help from a professional. Often, couples’ therapy can be very helpful in these situations. Intimacy is about developing a deep connection with your spouse, and by working on intimacy in your marriage, you can improve your relationship and make it stronger than ever.
Why is intimacy so important in a marriage?
Sexual intimacy keeps you both physically and emotionally healthy. Studies have found that people who are married are not necessarily happier, but if the relationship between the couple is healthy and satisfying, then married people do enjoy better health.
What are the benefits of intimacy?
Having an intimate and close relationship with our spouse or loved one brings many physical and emotional benefits. Reducing stress, anxiety, and depression, increasing our sex life, and countering loneliness are just some of the benefits.
Does intimacy mean love?
Intimate relationships are often characterized by attitudes of mutual trust, caring, and acceptance. A part of our sexuality might include intimacy: the ability to love, trust, and care for others in both sexual and other types of relationships.