An emotionally-intimate relationship is a gold standard for most adult men and women. Long-term married couples know that nothing can compare to the deep satisfaction emotionally-bonded partners experience both inside and outside the bedroom. The ability to trust your partner, bare your soul in front of him or her without fear of judgement, and connect deeply are elements that committed couples report as being essential to experiencing satisfaction in the physical and emotional areas of the relationship. The intimacy fostered by a deep emotional connection with your life partner is one of life’s greatest joys.
What are some of the ways you can build and reinforce the emotional bond with your partner?
A good conversation can work like an aphrodisiac; it will turn you both on and prepare you for good sex. Dedicate time to sitting down with a warm cup of coffee together and let the words flow. Turn off your phones, screens and other distractions and focus on each other’s contributions to the discussion. Look into each other’s eyes as you share your day. Active talking and listening validates both of you, making you feel heard, which primes your bodies for connection. For many women, it is difficult to hop into bed without some sort of verbal foreplay. (Men: take note!)
Construct a sphere of safety around each other
In order to build trust, couples need to feel safe with each other. What does “feeling safe” mean? It could mean the freedom to express oneself without fear of retribution or criticism. It can be the knowledge that your spouse “has your back” no matter what. It is the sense of safe harbor you feel when with your spouse, that you are both each other’s protection from the outside elements. When you feel safe with your partner, you have a wonderful sense of connection upon which trust can take root and grow.
Trust is the cornerstone in an emotionally-intimate marriage. When you are with someone whom you truly trust, you can allow yourself to feel vulnerable and not worry about them mocking you or being turned off when you reveal your secrets. The bedrock of trust allows you to let go of feelings of doubt, unworthiness, and insecurity. Great relationships cannot be built if trust is not present, so if you do have any feelings of insecurity in regards to your partner, you will need to work on this issue if you want to progress towards emotional intimacy.
Tend to your Intimate relationship
Emotional connectivity depends on a base of respect, trust and desire that couples work to create, and continually re-create. Express some type of gratitude towards your spouse each day. The “thank yous” and “you rock!” are part of the glue that keeps the connection together. These are important factors in reinforcing your emotional bond. Never take your physical life for granted, and make gestures from time to time to remind your partner that he or she still turns you on. A squeeze as you pass in the hallway, a long kiss before you set off for your workday…these small acts are not intended to lead to sex, but are simple, non-verbal ways to send the message to your spouse that you are feeling connected to him or her.
The hormone-releasing benefits of orgasm
Emotionally-intimate sex means better sex, and better sex leads to better orgasms. The real win in all this is the fact that orgasms produce a hormone called oxytocin. This hormone stimulates the brain to feel even more bonded and attached to your spouse. There is a reason it is called the love hormone! Both sexes produce oxytocin during the act of lovemaking so that nature ensures that the two partners bond (to protect any offspring that may result from the sexual act). It’s really a lovely cycle: the more orgasms you have, the more bonded you will feel with your partner. Do not overlook the therapeutic powers of a good session between the sheets!
When desire seems to be waning, work on feeding your emotional intimacy needs as well as physical intimacy needs.
All couples report a reduction in desire as the years pass. But don’t let your sex life be put on the back burner! There are things you can do to nourish this important part of your marriage and make sure you stay in touch with each other.
It is not just a question of having more sex. You want to be attentive to fueling the feelings that lead you to want to have more sex.
Experiment: spend a weekend with your spouse where you focus on communicating. Take sex off the table; the goal is not to end up in bed but to reinforce your emotional intimacy.
- Tell each other five things that you like about the other person.
- Ask each other to name five things that make each partner happy.
- Give each other the freedom to explore something alone. (When you reunite, it will be hot!)
- Create a list of ways you can increase your connection with each other. Some things to include might be: a new sport or hobby that you both want to try, a trip-of-a-lifetime that you spend time planning together, new things to bring into your bedroom. Brainstorm and see what you agree upon!
Most people will agree that emotional intimacy, with its expression of unconditional love towards the other partner, is one of the most important pleasures of life. When you find that person with whom you know you can reach this higher state, work hard to keep the connection vibrant. It is life-enhancing and worth the work it takes to keep it going.
Want to have a happier, healthier marriage?
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.