Building Emotional Intimacy in Marriage

Building emotional intimacy

Emotional intimacy is related to the connectedness you have with your partner, it is also related to feelings of passion and romance. Emotional intimacy can wax and wane throughout time; and in every marriage, there are phases when a couple’s’ sense of intimacy is lacking.


There are many methods to building emotional intimacy in a marriage (when you think it has become dull). Lack of emotional intimacy can be the result of unresolved feelings or conflicts. It can be the result of business or lack of time, when other priorities in life have taken precedence, detracting from the marriage.


Speak your truth

Many therapists and relationships counselors advise couples to “speak their truths”, meaning that when a feeling surfaces, it should not be held back. Instead it should be conveyed as soon as possible, ideally in a non-threatening way. There are different methods for which to speak your truth, described below.


  •        ‘I’ Statements

The manner in which truths are communicated is as important as the communication itself. Keeping the focus on oneself is a hallmark of this philosophy, and requires focusing on the feeling rather than on the person or the person’s behavior.


For example, this may be stated as “my truth is that I feel lonely when I spend too much time at the house alone.” Contrast this statement with this one, “my truth is that I feel neglected when you spend too much time playing golf.”  The latter phrase may be more apt to start an argument, whereas the first statement leaves interpretation up to the partner, opens up a dialogue for discussion and resolution, and eliminates blame from the equation.


You can make your own examples, using the sentences above as a template to practice identifying words that can be substituted for “neglected” and the “you” part of the phrase. Practice making sentences that focus on identifying names of feelings (I feel sad, anxious, confused, embarrassed, angry). The second part of this practice should include phrases that reduce blame, where the second part of the sentence does not identify the person or their behavior as the focus and avoids “you” statements.


  •        A No-holds-barred approach           

Typically we are socialized to avoid confrontation by keeping our thoughts and opinions to ourselves. Some people have found it liberating to use an honest approach to situations by communicating their opinion based on their experience, and what feels right to them. An example of this might be making a statement such as, “I feel afraid that you will become angry and yell at me when I express my concerns about our finances.” Although this comprises a “you” statement, this approach may foster confidence and assertiveness in people with a history of holding in their feelings, or with whom have problems in relationships that are based on failing to identify and express opinions.


  •        Focus on being real, not being right      

Whenever we speak our truths, it is more important we are expressing ourselves truthfully, rather than focusing on being right. Opinions are opinions, and they vary from person to person.


  •        Mindfulness and management

Being empathetic and mindful of how another person may feel or react is also necessary when expressing truths.  Clarifying your understanding or concerns about the other person’s feelings is also useful.  You must never try to manipulate or change another’s feelings or emotions; this is not an effective strategy nor is it a focus of speaking your truth.  Remember, your truth comes out of your personal values and experience.

Kelli Hastings is a writer, social worker, and proud advocate for women. She earned her B.A. degree from the University of Oregon in 2007, and worked as a behavior support specialist and program manager. She is inspired to support couples, teach them skills that lead to healthy, happy and romantic partnerships. Her interests include cognitive behavioral therapy, mindfulness, visualization practice, and related therapies.

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