One of the most important facets of your marital relationship is a sense of emotional intimacy.
Emotional intimacy is what allows you to feel close and safe with your spouse. A low level of emotional intimacy can lead to marital issues and eventually divorce, so you want to make sure that you not only maintain emotional intimacy but actively work on increasing the level over the course of your shared lives. How do you do this? Read on!
What exactly is emotional intimacy?
Long-term couples have a variety of intimacies working to keep their bond strong: intellectual, physical, spiritual and emotional.
This last one, emotional, is key in keeping your marriage healthy and happy. You can have physical intimacy without emotional intimacy, but if this is the case, your sex life will eventually seem boring and hollow. Emotional intimacy transfers over to all other parts of your relationship; it is truly a keystone.
Emotional intimacy is simply a feeling of closeness, of sharing, of allowing yourselves to be vulnerable with each other, and providing each other with a feeling of safety and security.
The level of emotional intimacy in your relationship will ebb and flow
No couples feels a deep sense of emotional intimacy 100% of the time, and that is perfectly normal.
There are outside factors that can influence how close you feel to your partner at any given moment: stress at work, problems with the family, long periods of separation, illness, and other distractions can nick away at your shared sense of connection.
You want to have a solid baseline of emotional intimacy, however, so that this temporary feeling of distance does not become a permanent state. In other words, build up a good reserve of emotional intimacy so that when your marriage does come under stress, you have a good foundation to see it through to better days.
Activities you can do to create electrifying emotional intimacy in your marriage
1. Actively work at creating meaningful moments together
This doesn’t mean a couples’ date night, which, while a great idea, can often lead to the two of you discussing the latest problem with your parents, or your teenagers’ misuse of the family computer.
When we talk about meaningful moments, we mean focusing on each other while experiencing a connection with the outside world. This can be done by the two of you doing volunteer work one night a week, or both of you taking up a challenging sport together.
The point is to engage not only with each other, but with your shared world.
2. Ask each other real questions
“How was your day?” is a great start, but go further.
When your spouse answers that question, really listen to the response and build on it. Be curious about their world when they aren’t with you. Your emotional intimacy will increase when you have a better understanding of who your spouse is when they aren’t with you.
3. Make sure you both know that it is safe to be open
Emotional intimacy is built on continual honesty and good communication.
Make a pact with your partner that there are no taboos and any and all issues can be disclosed and examined with no negative consequences. Indeed, it is during these times of productively working out marital challenges that intimacy grows and your bond knits tighter together.
So provide a safe framework in which your communications with each other can be shared without fear of provoking anger or hurt.
4. Address issues as they arise, don’t wait for a blowup
Couples who harbor resentment or anger do damage to their emotional intimacy baseline.
While you may not be able to immediately have a tough conversation, due to children being present or perhaps your spouse is away on a business trip, you can at least put it out there that you would like to talk about the issue.
“When you get back, let’s schedule a moment to check in about….” is enough to get it on the radar. Don’t just push it down, thinking it will go away. That is an intimacy-destroyer. You want to keep your communication channels open and flowing to maintain and increase your feelings of intimacy with each other.
5. Be generous in unexpected ways
Want to double your sense of emotional intimacy instantly?
Surprise your spouse with some unexpected generosity. Take over a task that they normally would do (pick up the dry-cleaning, or take the car in for an oil change.) (Be sure to tell them so they can cross that off their to-do list). If you aren’t normally a flowers person, pick up a nice bouquet on your way home, “just because I love you and I know you love roses.”
These out-of-the-ordinary acts of generosity help create more emotional intimacy as they are so unexpected and appreciated.
6. Feeling a disconnect? Take 20 minutes and revisualize your first date
You will be flooded with warm and fuzzy feelings, which will reignite your reserves of emotional intimacy during a challenging time in your relationship. Take out your wedding album, a scrapbook from that time, anything that helps you bring up your loving feeling.
7. Practice good self-care
It may seem counterintuitive, but upping your sense of emotional intimacy actually starts with you, upping your self-care.
Ever remark on how great you feel about your outside world when you are having a great hair and clothes day?
You project a happy, self-confident image and the world gives back to you. This can apply to your couple as well.
When you are at your optimal best, eating well, sleeping enough, incorporating some intentional physical movement into your day, you project a happy vibe out towards your partner. And that circles back to you. Emotional intimacy levels up!
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.