We’ve all seen it before.
The couple whose love seems to ooze without effort.
The couple whose connection is magnetic.
The couple whose marriage is thriving as they get older, rather than growing stale.
How do they do it? How do they continue to defy the odds of interpersonal relationships and stay in love?
They do it through the practice of emotional intimacy. Their ability to stay close and connected isn’t pure luck; it’s through hard work and a growth mindset that they remain tight as the couples around them fall apart.
When a couple is physically intimate, they use the power of touch to stay close, whether it’s making love or cuddling up on the couch. When a couple is emotionally intimate, they use their emotions to remain close to one another. They profess their deep love for their partner. They remain open and vulnerable in their adoration. They trust and respect the person across from them because of their open and honest way of interacting.
Physical intimacy is the connection of the body. Emotional intimacy is the connection of the soul. If you’re with your soulmate, chances are that you are emotionally intimate with them on a consistent basis.
Why is emotional intimacy important?
“I don’t feel as connected to you anymore.”
“I feel like I don’t know you.”
“You’re not the same person I married.”
All of these statements stem from a lack of emotional intimacy. Being emotionally intimate with your partner is all about sharing a close connection with them. It’s an intentional practice of being open, honest, loving, and compassionate in your communication with your boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, or wife. Without it, you are bound to experience the disconnect that these common quotations describe.
When you feel like you don’t know your partner after being married to them for years, it’s because you haven’t taken the time to continue to get to know them. The reality of life is that people will change as will the circumstances around them. Your husband or wife is no different; they don’t get to remain as they are while the world changes around them. If you’re not staying in tune with them, checking in on their emotional needs, you’re not only going to feel distant from them…it will be caused by your actions.
How can you create emotional intimacy in your marriage?
Emotional intimacy and its success will rely heavily on one very important, yet difficult thing to commit to: vulnerability. Being vulnerable and open to your partner is the only way to truly share and connect with each others emotions. If you have a guard up in any way, you’re closing off your partner from that part of your life. Emotional intimacy requires vulnerability, and from both parties.
The best way to create an environment of vulnerability is to lead by example. You can’t tell your husband to open up to you if there are parts of your life that you still refuse to talk about. You can’t tell your wife to let you into her world if you still have skeletons in your closet that you’re afraid to talk about. Once your partner sees you take the first step and put your emotions on the line, they will be much more likely to do the same. Not only that, there’s a good chance that they will meet your vulnerability with compassion, deepening your connection with each open and honest share.
What if your partner won’t budge?
At the end of the day, no marriage and no person is perfect. We all have our flaws that need fixing, so don’t call a divorce lawyer just because your spouse has no intention of opening themselves up to you. As important as emotional intimacy is, it’s not worth risking the health of an otherwise loving marriage just to prove a point. Continue to meet their stubbornness with compassion and you may slowly open up those closed doors.
If there is a specific issue that you feel is important to connect with your partner on, it might be best to recruit the services of a marriage counselor to mediate the situation. No matter how much love and compassion you have in your heart, there’s some things best left to the professionals. This will provide an objective facilitator to help shine light on the issues at hand. It will be easier for your partner to hear it from their mouth instead of yours.
Make your spouse your soulmate
Every couple’s level of emotional intimacy will vary, and in each specific case there will be an ebb and flow to those levels. What’s important to drive home here is that emotional intimacy is the difference between growing old with a friend or growing old with a soulmate. That deep emotional connection is what keeps older couples attached at the hip well after their hair turns gray.
What’s also worth noting is that emotional intimacy is not an innate talent or gift; it’s something that you and your partner can consciously work towards. By being intentional about your openness to each other, your honesty with each other, and your love for each other, you will become more intimate by the day. Just like anything else, though, if you don’t use it, you lose it. Don’t be like so many married couples who are left saying, “What happened to us?” Put the effort in now to strengthen your emotional intimacy and watch your marriage grow it’s strength tenfold.
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.