One of the factors that contribute significantly to the success of a relationship is emotional intimacy. A lack of emotional closeness or trust can be pretty damaging for marriage; it can even lead to marriage failure!
Once lost, restoring intimacy in marriage can be pretty difficult. There is no need to lose hope, though. Numerous things can be done to rebuild emotional intimacy.
What is emotional intimacy?
Emotional intimacy refers to closeness where both the partners in a relationship feel comfortably secure and loved.
In an emotionally intimate relationship, communication and trust play a key role. When you are close emotionally, you can know about your partner, including their fears, dreams, and hopes.
Even the findings from a study suggested that in both male and female partners in romantic, long-term relationships, higher levels of intimacy are associated with stronger sexual desire, which is, in turn, associated with higher odds for partnered sexual activity.
Without a deep emotional connection, the couple is incomplete and will likely not stay together for the long term.
Good sex can only hold a relationship together for so long. There must be a base of emotional exchange for the couple to grow together, to know each other completely, and allow each other the space to show vulnerability without the fear of being criticized or shamed.
Emotional intimacy allows a couple to be 100 % authentic with each other and still feel loved and safe.
Emotional intimacy is vital in marriage, as it enhances lovers’ spiritual, physical, and emotional bond.
The level of a couple’s emotional closeness is where this article centers. So, how important is an emotional connection in marriage?
The importance of intimacy or emotional bonding can not be underlined enough.
A solid emotional connection fosters feelings of comfort, security, refuge, and mutual support between couples. In contrast, a lack of emotional intimacy leads to communication problems, helplessness, and loneliness in a relationship.
So, for those looking for a definite answer to the question, “Is intimacy important in a relationship?” emotional intimacy is the best way for couples to express their love for each other.
Emotional intimacy examples
The greater the emotional intimacy, the more fulfilling the relationship and marriage will be. With that said, you may have trouble pinpointing the characteristics of an emotionally intimate couple. You know that’s what you want but aren’t sure how to create emotional intimacy in your relationship.
To identify some exemplary examples of emotionally intimate couples, let’s dive into what it looks like and then how to build emotional intimacy:
Emotionally intimate couples are open and vulnerable to each other. There are no barriers to forcing their partner to break through; they offer their heart and soul to each other without hesitation.
To create a vulnerable and open atmosphere in your relationship, you must lead by example.
It would be best if you offered a big piece of yours for your partner to open their hearts to you. It will show them that you are willing to put yourself out there, even if it means getting hurt.
Without risking your heart and soul, you won’t experience the most profound connection. You may be protecting yourself by keeping your guard up, but you never really let your spouse or partner into your world.
2. Honesty and compassion
Openness can only come through honesty within the relationship. The “it” couple you envisioned at the beginning of this article has learned that over time. When they speak to each other, they do so with a compassionate heart but an honest tongue.
There may be some harsh truths that need to be said, but they can be told in a way that doesn’t crush the other person. The only way to grow closer and truly foster emotional intimacy is by being truthful with one another.
It would help if you led from the front to create an honest and compassionate dialogue with your partner.
Coming into the room with agitation and fury will never allow honesty to flourish. Come from a place of empathy and compassion and you will become closer with each conversation.
Although the physical piece of a relationship is its own realm of intimacy, it’s important to highlight the magnitude of touch in transmitting an emotion. A simple touch can say a whole lot and communicate plenty of emotion.
Communication is not just something that passes through your lips; emotionally intimate couples use their bodies to let their partner know how they feel about them.
To bring a more intimate physical touch into your relationship, start being more intentional about how you use it within your relationship. Don’t think that your physical touch should only reside in the bedroom.
Thinking about, “How to be more intimate with your partner?”
Give more hugs, hold each other’s hand, or even tickle your spouse if the opportunity presents itself. There is plenty of emotion that can be packed into a meaningful touch. Don’t let that opportunity to get closer go to waste.
The couples that make it the longest and love the deepest are those who can forgive and do so authentically. Being married to someone is a lifelong commitment and people are bound to make mistakes. As humans, we are imperfect. It just comes with the territory.
For a couple’s intimacy to flourish, forgiveness must be at play. If they never forgave each other, that would create distance and resentment between them.
Research shows that forgiveness is connected to higher levels of relationship satisfaction.
As with most of these attributes and examples of emotional intimacy, forgiveness must be modeled before your partner gets on board. Forgive them for something that you’ve been holding a grudge for.
Let that resentment roll off your shoulders and open yourself up to your partner like you haven’t ever before. Show them that they are forgiven, and they’ll be more likely to forgive you in feeling that weight lifted off their shoulders.
Signs of a lack of emotional intimacy are easily recognizable and include hidden emotions, secrets, lack of trust, and poor communication.
The following are some intimacy tips for repairing emotional intimacy, as well as strengthening it:
1. Work on yourself first
How to repair emotional intimacy if you are ridden with a lack of self-assurance and don’t exude confidence?
The bitter pill of truth is that you can’t enjoy emotional intimacy in marriage since a lack of self-esteem affects your relationship with your spouse.
When you feel bad about yourself, your insecurities fuel arguments and conflicts, and you won’t be able to respond positively to your partner.
If you’re wallowing in despair, you aren’t going to affect positive change. The first step will include attending the gym, taking a class, baking a pie, or seeing a therapist.
Whatever it takes to boost your self-confidence, self-worth, and personal happiness – will be a crucial instrument in your marriage and building emotional intimacy.
Some say that the happiest couples lead their own individual lives, have individual interests, and are generally self-satisfied and happy.
The key word here is individual. Go out and find yourself and you will find the definite answer to how to bring intimacy back into a relationship.
2. Spend time together
Wondering how to restore intimacy?
The most basic and essential thing for repairing emotional intimacy is reevaluating the time you spend together. The amount you spend is not the only thing that matters; you also need to take care of how you spend it.
While for one person, watching a TV show you love might be quality time; however, for the other person, this might not count.
However, this also doesn’t mean that you must do something special such as taking time to go on a date night or taking a vacation to be close again.
Couples experiencing a lack of closeness do need to spend a lot of time together to re-establish that emotional connection.
You can be together; there is no need to constantly talk or be engaged in an exciting activity. Simple spending time with each other can also bring about a sense of closeness.
Repairing emotional intimacy depends primarily on the quality of interaction. While texting is a great way to keep communicating, it distracts a person from real intimacy since there isn’t any one-on-one interaction.
So, make sure to switch off all electronics, game consoles, tablets, cell phones, computers, and television, when you guys sit together. Instead, make a habit of conversing about your day.
An effective way to ensure electronics don’t get in the way is to put them in a box and not open them before spending at least two hours of quality time together.
Another way to improve emotional intimacy is to list everything you love doing together. Then, once the list is made, take time to do all the things you listed.
Spending time together this way can help build experiences and memories that can drastically strengthen emotional intimacy.
If you can’t figure out what to do together, think back to when you were newlyweds and how you used to spend time then. Regardless of your chosen activities, you must ensure that you have something fun daily.
Your effort and emotional investment directly reflect how much you truly value your relationship. The effort, unlike sentiment, cannot be faked; it can only be witnessed.
An effort is exhibited through many factors, including the time and manner you spend with your mate, your attempts at meeting your mate’s expectations and your continued cultivation of spiritual and intellectual intimacy.
6. Validation is key
Validating one’s mate is conveying to the mate that we understand what they are saying or feeling. It’s about seeing things from their perspective, even if we don’t share the same perspective, because it’s their truth, and we are simply showing that we believe that they believe it.
As such, empathy is a fundamental component of validation. What better way to activate an emotional bond than to listen to your mate, without ridicule or judgment, and to show them that you hear where they are coming from on a particular subject.
7. Practice being vulnerable
To get to validation, one of the mates has to be vulnerable enough to express their thoughts and feelings first.
An unwillingness to be vulnerable can be a significant roadblock to enhancing emotional intimacy, limiting the sharing of a wide array of emotions, thoughts, and experiences. It must be addressed if your goal is to feel closer to your mate.
One of the ways you can learn to be vulnerable is to take the necessary steps to heal from past hurts and traumas.
Being romantic means you perform small but thoughtful gestures that symbolize your love.
Giving love notes, cooking a romantic dinner, or presenting them with a wrapped gift for no other reason than to say “I love you” are examples of romantic behavior and go a long way in rebuilding intimacy.
To enhance emotional intimacy, don’t be afraid to go outside of your comfort zone, exercise some creativity, and then stick with what works.
Many couples remain physically attracted to one another but encounter difficulty connecting 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.
Memorize by touch
Hug like there’s no tomorrow
10. Be more expressive
Scientific evidence supports the physical power words have over our minds and bodies.
So then, if you have the choice to speak either positively or negatively to your significant other, how much more likely will you be to speak words of life?
Unfortunately, in times of frustration or anger, it is easy to overlook our words’ power and use harsh ones.
When being more attentive to the words that leave your mouth, you can encourage emotional intimacy by creating a safe and protected place for your loved one to be open and honest.
11. Be more positive
Let go of the need to be correct, the need to tell your partner what to do, the need to point out his faults and weaknesses, and the need to keep score.
Taking away these emotional intimacy blockades will give your partner positive, supportive, and kind emotions.
Check out this video to learn more about the power of positivity:
12. Take care of your health
Look after your appearance; being stylish sometimes for fun can be good for yourself and the relationship. It will give your spouse the added attention they didn’t ask for but will be glad it is there.
If you look like something special, then you will be perceived as something special, it is as simple as that.
13. Live in the moment
One of the simplest ways to increase emotional intimacy with your partner is to focus your full attention on him when he speaks to you. Put down your phone, and stop typing on the computer.
If you are standing at the sink doing dishes, stop, turn your body towards him, and look him in the eye while listening. You will be amazed at how the closeness factor increases with this one little tip.
14. Address issues as they arise
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 your spouse being away on a business trip, you can at least say that you would like to discuss 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 flow to maintain and increase your feelings of intimacy with each other.
Want to double your sense of emotional intimacy instantly?
Surprise your spouse with some unexpected generosity. Take over a task they usually would do, like picking up the dry-cleaning or taking 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 usually a flower person, pick up a lovely 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.
The bottom line
No matter who you are, marriage takes work.
Take stock of your married life now and then, and ask yourself if you are satisfied with the emotional intimacy you have. For all those looking for the answer to the question, “What is emotional intimacy in marriage,” your question is answered here.
If it has started to slip, deal with things now and nurture the relationship over time. Improve your emotional intimacy with your spouse and you’ll be one of the couples that can make the marriage work.
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.
Rachael Pace is a noted relationship writer associated with Marriage.com. She provides inspiration, support, and empowerment in the form of motivational articles and essays. Rachael enjoys studying the evolution of loving partnerships and is passionate about writing on them. She believes that everyone should make room for love in their lives and encourages couples to work on overcoming their challenges together.