Has your marriage started to resemble a roommate situation? You know what we’re talking about: you and your spouse live compatibly, no big conflicts, you have respect for each other and you love each other, but you just aren’t connecting sexually that much, if at all, anymore.
If this sounds familiar, don’t ignore the facts. Passion is not only one of the benefits of marriage, but it is part of the strong foundation upon which a good marriage is built. Neglecting the passion part of your marital bond could lead to a breakdown in your relationship. That’s a risk you don’t want to take. Here are some helpful tips to enhance the intimacy factor in your marriage.
1. Kiss (and not the Prince song)
Remember kissing? Those joyful, laugh-filled moments when you locked lips over and over again, indulging in the sheer happiness this intimate moment provided you? We often forget how fun make-out sessions can be once we are married when we mistakenly think we can skip over this stage to get to the “good part” (intercourse) faster. So go back to kissing. Lengthy, romantic, swoon-worthy kissing sessions. This is a great way to reclaim intimacy.
2. Pay attention to the little connections
Intimacy in marriage is not limited to lovemaking. It is also the small ways you connect with your partner day in and day out. So pay attention to these. Connect through a tight hug in the morning before leaving for work, a post-it note on your partner’s briefcase saying you love him, or a “just thinking of you” text during the day.
3. Look at your partner- Truly see them
A simple way to increase intimacy is to focus visually on your partner when talking with them, and when having sex. Often we listen to each other but we are not tuned into each other 100%. Think about how you glance at your phone, a television show, or continue typing on your pc all while your partner is telling you something. Or you close your eyes during sex, thinking that it helps you get into the groove. Trying changing these habits and see what they do to draw you closer. Is your partner telling you about his day? Put away the screens, turn towards him, and lock eyes. While making love, keep your open gaze fixed on your partner and watch the sexual response rocket upwards. This is the kind of intimacy we are talking about!
4. Go to bed together each night
So many couples have a staggered bedtime routine. One spouse might need the extra time in the evenings to catch up on housework, or just relax in front of the television after a stressful day. What happens in this situation is it instantly prevents the couple from any chance of intimacy, both physical (they cannot be close as they are not even in the same room together) or emotional (no sharing of thoughts as you drift off to sleep). So make it a point to retire to the bedroom together each night. You may not have sex every night (but if you do, all the better!), but you will strengthen your intimacy quotient as you talk and cuddle before falling asleep.
5. Speaking of bedrooms: keep the TV out of yours
Many couples have a television in their bedroom. They enjoy watching a film before sleep, or they like to turn on the morning news while getting ready for work. This may seem harmless, but in fact, that television set may be setting you up for a breakdown in marital intimacy. That bedtime film prevents you from talking with your spouse, and that morning news show keeps you from exchanging your plans for the day with each other. Your bedroom should be a sanctuary for sleep, sex, and good conversations. Do yourselves a favor and make yours a no-media zone.
6. Keep yourselves healthy
It’s difficult to maintain intimacy in your relationship if one or both of you is feeling tired, unattractive or worn down. So pay attention to your physical health. Do some form of intentional exercise each day: walking, jogging, yoga, stretching…keeping fit, and feeling strong has a lovely effect on sexual desire. If a few extra pounds are making you shy away from wanting to be intimate with your partner, lose them—the reward is worth the effort it takes to cut down on calories and increase your physical activity. The point is to keep in shape so that you feel good about yourself and you naturally reach out to your partner to share this good feeling.
7. Do something out of your comfort zone
A great intimacy-strengthening exercise is to do something together that is totally unexpected and not in your typical routine. This could be going to a dance club (think about that last time you did that…you were probably single!); signing up for a challenging sport, enrolling in a workshop to learn a new skill, or studying a foreign language together with the goal of taking an exotic vacation. Anything where you are both learning something extraordinary, and doing it side by side.
8. Service to others
Doing an activity outside of the home together can do wonders for upping your intimacy. If all you ever do together are household chores and focus on the children, these don’t count as “intentional togetherness.” Why not reap the double benefit of choosing a volunteer activity together that takes you out into your community where you can work side by side being of service to others? Ideas include working at your town’s soup kitchen or organizing this year’s neighborhood block party, or tutoring literacy in your local schools. There are a million ways for you to become involved in your community so check out the local resources and pick something that speaks to both of you.