A healthy marriage is made up of several elements, including mutual respect, open and honest communication, a fulfilling sex life and a solid friendship between the two spouses. All of these combined create real intimacy. Real intimacy is what keeps a marriage thriving. Without it, marriages may morph into routine, roommate-like living situations, which is hardly satisfying for either partner. How can you contribute to growing real intimacy so that you can keep your marriage thriving?
Renew intimacy each day
Intimacy is not a static way of living, but rather a state that needs continual replenishing. You can do this in simple ways each day. Recognize that your partner and your marriage are the most important players in your life. Honor them by being present, mindful and caring. When your spouse talks to you, pay attention to what they are saying, or, if you need to finish up with something else, tell them that you want to hear what they have to say but need to take care of this “one thing first.” Make sure you give each other some quality time together each day, even if it is just 30 minutes. Let your spouse know that there is no one you’d rather be with, day in and day out. These small but daily offerings help keep your marriage thriving because they remind you of the unique bond of real intimacy you and only you share.
Many people think “sex” when they think of intimacy in marriage, but let’s not neglect the emotional side of intimacy. Good emotional intimacy leads to enhanced sexual intimacy so it is vital to nourish our emotional side. Some of the things you can do to help tend the emotional intimacy garden include sharing your feelings, both the positive and the negative ones, with each other. Learn effective communication skills that help you express your emotions in a non-intimidating way. Discover techniques to make you a better listener. Being intimate emotionally with your spouse will help you feel connected and reinforce the validating sensation that you are each other’s, important person.
Dedicate time to spend together
Keep your marriage thriving by remembering that you are not only parents but lovers and friends first. So many things pull us away from this: work, children, taking care of elderly or sick parents, our societal responsibilities. Make time for regular date nights where you can either relax and enjoy a good meal and conversation or break out the sports equipment and work up a sweat together. Get creative and schedule a variety of different activities to do; don’t settle into a routine. The goal is to spend time together making sure that intimate connection gets reinforced and your marriage stays fresh.
A healthy marriage is based on a rock-solid foundation of trust. This is not built immediately but forms as you move forward together. It is clear that without trust, there can be no real intimacy. If your shared trust has been tarnished or broken, seek outside counseling to learn how to mend it (if that is what you want).
Know and accept your partner
Real intimacy that keeps a marriage thriving relies on both people knowing on the deepest level who they each truly are. They have walked through tough times together and grown in the process. They have been dependably present, offering a warm place to land when one partner is suffering, as well as a high-five when a celebration is in order.
You are two different people. Appreciate that!
Real intimacy does not mean that you both need to be cut from the same cloth. While it is important to share core values, it is equally important to appreciate and embrace each other’s differences. Listen to your partner’s different point of view—it’s an opportunity to expand your knowledge.
Be each other’s sounding board
Healthy partners help each other search for productive solutions to the inevitable relationship problems that crop up from time to time. Problem-solving together in a compassionate way helps build intimacy as you support each other’s different suggestions on best ways to reach a mutually satisfying solution.
Meet conflict head-on
You might think fleeing conflict will keep your marriage happy, but it actually works against intimacy.By mastering effective techniques for facing problems with mindfulness and respect, you will contribute to deepening your intimate connection with your spouse as you work through the issue without exploding or retreating.