Finding the balance between life and relationships can be stressful. For couples, this balance is complicated by children, jobs, and adult responsibilities. Maintaining a physical connection with your partner is vital; sex and sexual contact are important for the health of a relationship or marriage. But there is a distinct difference between physical contact and intimacy. If you find yourself lacking an emotional connection with your partner, you are not alone. Many couples continue to be physically attracted to one another but encounter difficulty in connecting with each other due to a lack of emotional intimacy. If you are the one who believes your relationship lacks an emotional connection, try these six exercises to give it a boost.
1. Seven breaths
This particular exercise can feel a bit awkward for some couples. It requires moderate concentration and the ability to sit calmly for a few minutes. Start by sitting across from your partner; you may choose to sit on the floor, the bed, or in chairs. Once you are comfortable, hold hands, close your eyes, and lean forward, allowing only your foreheads to touch. In unison, take a deep breath. It may take two or three breaths to be in-sync with one another, but soon you will find yourself in a state of relaxation and breathe in unison with your partner. Take at least seven deep breaths together; feel free to sit for longer periods of time if both of you are enjoying the solitude and connectedness. If done before bed, this activity can also promote a sense of calmness and security before going to sleep.
Similar to the previous exercise, “gazing” can feel rather awkward for partners who do not frequently engage in eye contact. As with the first activity, sit across from one another in a comfortable position. You may touch, but be sure it is non-sexual in nature. If you have never done this activity before, set a timer for two minutes. If you engage in this activity frequently, it might be appropriate to increase the time. Start the timer and look directly into your partner’s eyes. Do not talk or actively touch one another. Simply look at your partner in the eye until you hear the timer sound. You may choose to talk about what you felt during the activity, or you may enjoy simply being with your partner after completing the exercise.
3. Conversational connection
A quick and easy way to practice emotional intimacy is to spend the first thirty minutes when you are home together, talking about the day. Each partner should be given ample time to talk during these minutes; talk about what went well, what frustrated you, what you enjoyed, and any emotional responses you had to events during the day. Taking the time to share all of this with your partner can encourage trust and a sense of security. Many couples get caught up in daily activities and forget to share their lives with their partners – be intentional about your time together and make the best of those first thirty minutes.
4. Memorize by touch
Going back to the root of your relationship and engaging in physical connectedness can be refreshing for a relationship lacking intimacy. Sit next to or across from your partner. Place your hands together and close your eyes. For a few minutes, take the time to feel your partner’s hands and “see” every detail. In the rush of day-to-day activities, couples often forget the small details that make the relationship unique. You may choose to engage in this activity by touching other parts of your partner’s body; try not to engage in sexual touching (though this activity most certainly could lead to physical intimacy!). Memorize the details of your partner; then practice memorizing their internal characteristics and traits as well.
5. “5 Things…”
Have you tried the Conversational Connection activity and cannot seem to find anything to talk about? Try the “5 Things…” method! Take turns choosing a topic, or perhaps put a number of topics in a jar to retrieve when conversation dulls. For example, you may choose “5 things that made me smile today” or “5 things I would have rather been doing besides sitting at work.” This particular activity can help liven conversation between partners and perhaps even provide you with insight into interests or characteristics you did not already know!
6. Hug like there’s no tomorrow
Lastly, there is nothing better than a good, old-fashioned hug. This can be planned or done at random; simply hug and hug tightly! Do not let go for several minutes; take a few deep breaths together. Memorize the feel of your partner against you; feel his or her warmth. Use your five senses – sight, smell, taste, touch, and hearing – to envelope yourself in the presence of the person you love. There might not be anything else that can increase emotional intimacy and sensitivity more than a heartfelt and sincere hug!
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