Intimacy with your spouse can be one of the most enjoyable parts of the relationship but can also be challenging. It is often difficult to determine when to engage in intimacy and how to do so for the benefit of both partners. Many couples, though they enjoy passionate and cherished moments with one another, focus too much on the how and forget the many benefits that can accompany intimacy and physical closeness.
Making a connection
The purpose of intimacy is to create a space and time for just you and your partner. It should be a time free from distraction, and a time for the two of you to engage only with one another. This does not necessarily require sexual contact, but likely will if you are connecting to your partner on a deep level. Making a connection with your spouse can come in a variety of forms. You may find this time a safe place to share your heart and emotions, a place free of judgment and blame. Mentally, this time can be a place to refresh and renew your relationship and ability to communicate with one another more effectively.
One of the five love languages developed by Gary Chapman is physical touch. This language, if used appropriately and selflessly, is a simple way for a person to show their spouse how much they are loved. For those who prefer to receive affection through physical touch, intimacy with their partner can have significant physical and mental benefits. In addition to increased connectedness emotionally and mentally, physical affection can increase the value placed on the relationship itself. By actively choosing to show affection to your spouse through physical touch, you can communicate just how much importance you place on the success of the relationship.
Increases in dopamine, the “Happy drug”
Dopamine, a chemical neurotransmitter found in the brain, is what is commonly referred to as the “happy drug.” It is the chemical responsible for our sense of happiness and our ability to enjoy experiences. During physical intimacy and sex, the levels of dopamine in the brain rise, giving a physiological explanation for the pleasure a couple experiences during these moments. The rise in dopamine not only allows for enjoyment and increased happiness in the moment, but it can also provide the recipient with a psychological foundation for continued enjoyment and development of closeness and connectedness with their partner.
The most obvious physical benefit of intimacy with your spouse is that it feels good! The natural response of the body during sexual intercourse and other forms of sexual intimacy are physiological – the body is built to “enjoy” the various acts of sexual contact. Each partner will likely have preferences, and it is important to address those preferences to ensure each spouse receives the full benefit of sexual pleasure. Additionally, seeing to the needs of your spouse can increase connectedness and your ability to interact positively with your spouse after the moment of physical intimacy has passed. Mentally, the physical satisfaction that comes from sexual intercourse can have a positive effect on the brain’s ability to battle depression, anxiety, and other mental health concerns. Essentially, physical intimacy feels good for the body and for the mind.
Increased relational satisfaction
A partner who is loved well and is able to love in return will likely have a more positive outlook on marriage. Physical intimacy is an expectation for anyone choosing to commit to someone long-term. It is not an unfair expectation nor is it one that should be overlooked. There may be times when one partner desires intimacy and the other does not. It is wrong to force or trick a partner into agreeing to be intimate, but there are appropriate ways of communicating with your partner the disinterest in engaging in intimacy at any time. In order to improve physical communication and increase the satisfaction in the relationship, sexual intimacy should be used as a “bonus” or a benefit of the marriage, rather than as a bargaining chip. It is common for couples to use sex as a way of bartering for their other needs and wants. This habit can be dangerous and limit the ability of sexual contact to enhance the relationship.
This is not an in-depth list of the mental and physical benefits of sexual intimacy and connectedness. Yet while it is not comprehensive, it serves to explain just how important physical contact is to the success and the satisfaction of marriage. Without intimacy, there is no way to truly connect with your partner in ways no one else can. But with it, you and your spouse can reach a deeper level of understanding one another.