- 7 Ways Men Can Grow Intimacy in Marriage
- What is the Definition of Intimacy? What does it Mean to be Intimate?
- Being Intimate Means “In-to-Me-See”
- Real Intimacy is More Than Sex
- Real Intimacy Makes Us Feel Known
- Is Intimacy the Cure for the Sexless Marriage?
- I have had a ton of conversations with people who are in sexless marriages or long-term relationships. Here are a few things I’ve heard:
- But what is intimacy anyway?
- I have found that the following 4 things are a recipe for intimacy, in both romantic and platonic relationships:
- Intimacy is a biological need, just sex
- Sex is not always evidence of love
- Why is it hard to maintain intimacy in long-term relationships?
- Sustainable intimacy is possible
- 1) Practice
- 2) Know what you need
- 3) Keep an open mind
- 4) Blame, shame, and manipulation-free accountability
- 5) Forgiveness
- Centering intimacy in your relationship will make you a better communicator
- And you’ll have more sex!
- Sex and Intimacy
- Resurrecting Sex – Intimacy in Marriage, Relationships, Married Couples
- 10 Ways to Rekindle the Passion in Your Marriage
- Foster Emotional Intimacy
- Rekindle Sexual Chemistry
7 Ways Men Can Grow Intimacy in Marriage
Gilaxia /Getty Images
Emotional intimacy is a key component to a healthy marriage. When emotional intimacy is lacking, a marriage can suffer. Maintaining emotional intimacy requires work and attention. Restoring emotional intimacy after it is lost can be a lot tougher than working hard to preserve it along the way.
Emotional intimacy is generally defined as a closeness in which both partners feel secure and loved and in which trust and communication abound.
When you are emotionally intimate with your spouse, you may feel as if you can see into the other’s soul, knowing their hopes, dreams, and fears and understanding them at a deep level.
Relationships that lack emotional intimacy are often characterized by a lack of trust, poor communication, secrets, and hidden emotions.
Sometimes, couples don't develop emotional intimacy in the first place or lose it after a while. Ideally, both partners will work on maintaining and building intimacy. It's important to recognize your part in building emotional intimacy and being emotionally available.
Often, couples don't recognize the signs when emotional intimacy is lacking. For example, a spouse may be blindsided when a husband announces that they want to leave the marriage. Looking back more closely over the years of their marriage, they may recall times when there was an emotional distance between them.
If your marriage seems to be lacking in emotional intimacy, there are a number of things that you and your partner can do to strengthen and deepen emotional intimacy.
Deep and meaningful emotional intimacy in a relationship depends on the quality of human interaction. Texting and emailing are important ways for you to get practical things done and to stay in touch when you are apart and too busy to talk.
Consider turning off the computer, television, video game console, cell phone, and tablet when you are together and spend some time talking, sharing, and looking each other in the eye.
One tool that many successful couples use is silencing their cell phones and dropping them in a little basket or box by the door as they come home and agreeing to leave them off for at least an hour or two when they are together.
Electronic communication can be a barrier to real emotional intimacy. Work emails, social media, and entertainment can be never-ending and easily grow into distracting habits that interfere with your solid, human, one-on-one interaction.
Increase Your Time Spent Together
It can be hard to find time together as a couple. Having children in the home can often magnify that difficulty. One family therapist shared the idea of committing 30 minutes each evening to uninterrupted time with a spouse after the kids are in bed.
Take care of tasks together, dishes and grocery shopping, so that things can get done faster and you can spend more time together as partners.
Similarly, having a cup of coffee together at a set time every weekend so that can help you feel relaxed and able to engage in good conversation.
A weekly date night, lunch together once or twice a week, or regular walks around your neighborhood can increase the time you spend together. Making time to focus on each other without the kids or other distractions is critical to maintaining emotional intimacy.
Be Emotionally Available for Your Spouse
After years together, couples inevitably learn what might hurt their partners. Kind and loving partners who avoid hurting each other help each other feel loved, valued, and safe. When we make the environment safe for our spouses, emotional intimacy finds its place.
Unfortunately, many people have experienced hostility from those who they trusted, felt unloved, or learned bad relationship habits. If you have a habit of belittling or emotionally attacking those who are close to you, these habits will sabotage intimacy, creating a wall in your marriage.
Read a Good Book Together
Reading a book together and discussing what you are reading can be a good vehicle for increasing emotional intimacy.
There are some great books about strengthening marriage that you can read together, but you can also choose a novel, biography, or a book about a common interest.
The fact that you are reading together and talking about what you read can strengthen the trust and communication aspects of emotional intimacy, giving you a chance to share your feelings and insights without judging each other.
Seek a Balance Between Self and the Couple
The strongest marriage relationships have two interdependent partners. Each one has rich hobbies, a professional life, or a social life, and they come together to invest in the marriage relationship.
Too much togetherness can be a bad thing if it deprives the relationship of the energy and experiences that interdependence brings. So, make sure to engage in some good self-care as a husband and father, and allow your spouse to do the same.
And then come together as a secure and trusting couple.
Put Together a “Fun List”
Counselor Dr. Tony Ferretti recommends that couples assemble what a list of things that the couple enjoys doing together, and then carve out time to do the things on the fun list.
Spending time in pursuits you enjoy together can build shared memories and experiences while strengthening emotional intimacy. Think about things you did when you were dating or newlyweds that made you enjoy time together, and consider putting them on your fun list.
Explore activities that you have always wanted to try. Then make sure that you are doing something on the fun list on a regular basis.
Consider Marriage Enrichment Activities
Most communities, churches and civic organizations hold marriage enrichment classes or marriage retreats for couples. A lot of couples find that this kind of investment in their relationship pays big dividends.
Getting into a structured setting with other couples and a professional counselor or clergy can really help develop a deeper and stronger marriage relationship. This kind of focused commitment to improving emotional intimacy can be a big investment of time but may bring significant returns.
Get Help When You Need It
If you feel your emotional relationship heading downward, you may want to consider seeking help from a family therapist. You may have grown apart, hurt each other without meaning to, avoided intimacy for personal reasons, or become distracted by the demands of life. These problems can often be solved with dedication, time, and sincere attention.
Having strong emotional bonds in a marriage relationship is important and worth the effort. Taking some steps in the direction of strengthening emotional intimacy in marriage is a vital thing to do and demonstrates your commitment to a long, strong and happy marriage. And that strong marriage helps you be a better father and man, as well as being an amazing husband.
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Yoo H, Bartle-Haring S, Day R, Gangamma R. Couple Communication, Emotional and Sexual Intimacy, and Relationship Satisfaction. J Sex Marital Ther. 2013;40(4):275-293. doi:10.1080/0092623x.2012.751072
Kardan-Souraki M, Hamzehgardeshi Z, Asadpour I, Mohammadpour R, Khani S. A Review of Marital Intimacy-Enhancing Interventions among Married Individuals. Glob J Health Sci. 2015;8(8):74. doi:10.5539/gjhs.v8n8p74
What is the Definition of Intimacy? What does it Mean to be Intimate?
“Our souls crave intimacy”—Erwin Raphael McManus
Sometimes singles will do just about anything to get close to someone they find interesting, intriguing or just plain irresistible.
One single woman I know drives through Starbucks daily to get her dose of caffeine. One morning as she approached the speaker to order, she noticed that the man in the truck in front of her looked very attractive. She eyed him through his rear view mirror. Wow! Handsome! Hmmm. . . I wonder if he’s single. In a split second she made a plan.
“Hi. Welcome to Starbucks. What can I get started for you today?”
“Well to start, can you do something for me? Will you ask the guy in front of me if he’s available?”
“You mean the guy in the truck? Suuuuuure. I’d love to. What else can I do for you?”
After she ordered her half-pump, no whip, soy, Venti mocha, she laughed at herself and thought, What in the world have I done?
She blushed as the hunky man in the truck pulled to the drive-up window. She watched as Ms. Starbucks asked if he was available. And then, in a flash, she watched as he drove away.
When she got to the window, she learned through Ms. Starbucks’ giggles that he was indeed, attached, married even.
Sometimes singles—and everyone else on the planet—will go to great lengths and even make complete fools of themselves to get close to the opposite sex.
Why? Is it because of our innate desire for sex? Is it because of loneliness? Desperation? Stupidity? Hormones? Of course, it can be all of the above, but the answer I’d to focus on is: intimacy.
The human desire for intimacy, for love, drives us to do things that we never thought we would. But why, and what does it mean to be intimate?
Being Intimate Means “In-to-Me-See”
One evening over dinner with a friend, we spoke about intimacy and what it means. She shared a cute little phrase with me to remind me of intimacy’s true meaning. “It means ‘in-to-me-see,'” she said. Ah yes, it’s a blending of our heart with another’s, so we can “see into” who they really are, and they can “see into” us.
According to Dictionary.com, intimacy is defined as, “showing a close union or combination of particles or elements: an intimate mixture.”
Being intimate involves the mixing of our life with another’s, a mingling of souls, a sharing of hearts. This is something we all long for because it’s how God made us. We were designed to connect.
Real Intimacy is More Than Sex
Maybe you are wondering about sex. Granted, sex is a part of intimate expression, but it is not intimacy.
In his book, Soul Cravings, Erwin Raphael McManus writes:
“Sex can be the most intimate and beautiful expression of love, but we are only lying to ourselves when we act as if sex is proof of love.
Too many men demand sex as proof of love; too many women have given sex in hopes of love. We live in a world of users where we abuse each other to dull the pain of aloneness.
We all long for intimacy, and physical contact can appear as intimacy, at least for a moment.”
When Janet married Ryan, she was convinced that even though they were not emotionally close before getting married, that sex would change all that.
After all, she’d seen the movies; she had watched television where two hearts blended into one once they became sexually involved.
Sadly, she was heartbroken when the emotional connectedness she longed for didn’t show up after she made it to bed.
Real intimacy is not found just by merging bodies in sex. When Jesus said, “and the two shall become one. . . ” I can’t help but think that He meant more than just the physical.
After all, how many couples go to bed at night, share their bodies, but not their hearts? Undoubtedly, many of these people would say they are very lonely.
Why? Because just as a garden hose is not the source of water, but only an expression, or vehicle for it, so sex is not the source of intimacy, but an outlet (or expression of) it. No matter how hard you try, if real emotional and spiritual intimacy does not exist before sex, it most certainly won’t after.
Real Intimacy Makes Us Feel Known
Real intimacy makes us feel alive we’ve been found, as if someone finally took the time to peer into the depths of our soul and really see us there. Until then, until we experience true intimacy, we will feel passed over and ignored, someone is looking right through us.
Sadly, we can miss out on intimacy that can make us and another person feel known, when we predetermine what we think we should see when we examine their life, heart, personality and soul. When this happens, we will try to mold and make them into who we believe they should be. As a result, we are blinded to their good qualities and love and intimacy are destroyed.
Is Intimacy the Cure for the Sexless Marriage?
Some lulls in your sex life may be temporary.
Life gets hectic. The unexpected shows up unannounced. Work becomes stressful. You get that flu everyone is talking about. Someone dies. Your parents get old. The kids are always around. And so sex takes a backseat.
But what happens when sexlessness becomes chronic?
When bouts of low libido last longer than expected, most relationships suffer. One of you wants to have sex, the other one doesn’t. Sex becomes a special occasion if it’s an occasion at all. Resentment sets in. Passive-aggressive behavior becomes all too familiar. And before long the once-thriving emotional connection seems non-existent.
I have had a ton of conversations with people who are in sexless marriages or long-term relationships. Here are a few things I’ve heard:
“I have a wife and two kids and I’m the sole provider in my family. That means if I don’t work we don’t have money. After working all day, there isn’t much time left. By the time we have dinner and get the kids to fall asleep, I’m exhausted. So off to bed I go, mostly without her.” — 35 yr. old, Male
“I have a full-time job and I manage our household. Between work, chores, and kids, sex just feels one more thing to do. My husband doesn’t get it. Maybe if he helped out more, I would be more interested. — 28 yr. old, Female
“I am mostly in good health, but I take a few medications. For high blood pressure and diabetes. Seems my sex drive has gotten lower since I started on the meds. And when I do get the urge, my erection doesn’t always last. So I’d rather not.” — 52 yr. old, Male
Now if I were to have a conversation with their partners, I would ly hear a different story. The partner with the higher sex drive often feels rejected, the way my husband did. And the partner with low libido often feels pressured, the way I did. Both feel disconnected. But the bigger problem is deeper than sex.
What’s missing is intimacy.
Relationships that lack sex can survive. And I’m not talking about staying together for the sake of the kids. Or being housemates with a marriage certificate and tax breaks.
If intimacy is present, relationships can still thrive, even in the absence of sex. With warmth, love, and physical affection.
“Our souls crave intimacy” — Erwin Raphael McManus.
But what is intimacy anyway?
Intimacy can often feel this elusive thing. People use it interchangeably to refer to sex. But you can have sex without being intimate. And you can be intimate without having sex.
Intimacy is the feeling of being both open and close. Which seems vague, I know. That’s because intimacy is not a single thing. It’s several things merging together to create an ecosystem called intimacy.
“It seemed strange to me that in the enormous lexicon of the English language, the state of being in the kind of relationship we’re all pursuing in this life has no additional adequate descriptors.” — Dr. Habib Sadeghi
I have found that the following 4 things are a recipe for intimacy, in both romantic and platonic relationships:
In Daring Greatly, Dr. Brené Brown defines vulnerability as “uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure.”
Vulnerability is about letting your guard down. Sharing something that you wouldn’t tell just anyone. Risking being dismissed or abandoned. Expressing your feelings at the risk of being ridiculed or rejected.
When you brave the choppy waters of vulnerability it is your hope that empathy meets you at the shore.
Empathy requires an offer of undivided attention and sharing your partner’s feelings. That means listening to understand, and not just to respond. Allowing the other person to feel less alone and more connected.
In relationships, acceptance means giving your partner space to be authentic. Loving them as they are, not as you wish them to be.
An authentic person is a free person. Acceptance gives your partner permission to be their self with you. No hiding or pretending. They won’t need to tiptoe or lie for fear of your disappointment. They can disrobe from societal expectations and be who they are, no matter what that looks .
I cannot stress this enough. Expressing gratitude to your partner is vital to intimacy. It’s so easy to give your partner shit about the not-so-great stuff. But it should be just as easy to express appreciation.
To know that you are appreciated and valued is priceless.
Intimacy is a biological need, just sex
The need for physical and emotional closeness is hardwired into our humanity. Touch is the only sense that we cannot live without and our emotions color the experiences of our lives.
The desire to be physically held and emotionally naked is innate. But so often we are either unaware of the desire or are afraid to express it.
“We are most alive when we find it, most devastated when we lose it, most empty when we give up on it, most inhuman when we betray it, and most passionate when we pursue it.” — Erwin Raphael McManus
Sex is not always evidence of love
Sometimes sex is just sex. This is why using sex as a substitute for intimacy can be so damaging.
A lot of people feel more comfortable sharing their bodies than sharing their hearts. I used to be one of those people. And there is nothing wrong with that if it serves all parties.
In some cases, sex can be a conduit for intimacy. But if you can’t get close to one another in the absence of sex, the relationship may eventually burn out.
Why is it hard to maintain intimacy in long-term relationships?
Humans are designed to exist in groups. We once lived in tribes, complete with a tangle of people to share chores and struggles. We hunted, gathered, cooked, and ate together. Birthed and raised our children as a community. We lived, loved, and grieved as a unit.
Now we are living a much more individuated experience, particularly here in America. And because technology evolves faster than biology, we are struggling to catch up.
The emotional, physical, and structural fulfillment that was once offered by an entire community, now falls on our partners.
Sure, you can pay a nanny to help with the kids. A housekeeper to do the chores. Postmates can take care of dinner. Your therapist can help you sort through your childhood issues. A coach to help you organize the chaos called your life. But you cannot outsource intimacy.
This is a new paradigm. It’s never been done before. And there are way too few models of what sustainable intimacy looks .
That’s why it’s hard. But it’s doable.
Sustainable intimacy is possible
Even though the odds may seem to be stacked against you, intimacy can be maintained longterm.
Intimacy is a practice. You will not get it right all the time. Sometimes you won’t meet your partner’s vulnerability with empathy. Your partner will not always say thank you when you stop what you’re doing to hold space for them. You’ll both have unrealistic expectations sometimes. And that’s okay.
Competency is the goal, not perfection.
You’re going to get it wrong. You will be disappointed. Feelings will be hurt. But practice makes better.
If you both resign to the fact that there is no failure when you try, you’ll be good.
2) Know what you need
I need people to tell me how they feel about me. Because actions do not speak louder than words for me. I know this to be undeniably true. And the people who love me know it too because I’ve told them.
You have to know what you need before you can ask for it.
That means becoming intimate with your own desires.
So if you need more face-to-face time. More dates. Less texting. More talking. A lot of kissing. Shared meals. More encouragement. A brain-storming session. Time away from the kids. A real vacation.
The need is not as important as having the language to express it. If you know what you need, you can find the words.
3) Keep an open mind
Once you know what you need you can make requests. But that does not guarantee fulfillment.
When making requests, there are 3 possible outcomes: Yes. No. Negotiation.
- Yes – your partner is ready willing and able to fulfill your desire.
- No – for whatever reason, your partner cannot fulfill your request.
- Negotiation – perhaps your partner cannot fulfill your request. At least not in the way it was presented. But they are willing to discuss alternative means that may be attainable.
4) Blame, shame, and manipulation-free accountability
You need to hold one another accountable for broken agreements. Without blaming, shaming or manipulating.
That means no yelling. No chastising. Or guilt-tripping. Your partner is not a child. And aggression has no place in a conversation about accountability.
Be clear about the agreement that was broken. So that you can present it in a way that your partner can receive. The whole point is to make it digestible. Conversations about accountability should inspire change, not resentment.
Be honest about how you’re feeling, without blaming your partner for said feelings. Express your unmet need, but don’t shame your partner for not meeting it. Communicate any fears that may have come up for you. But never try to manipulate your partner into making you feel better.
You can be accountable for how you show up. While also holding your partner accountable for the broken agreement.
Once you have acknowledged and discussed a broken agreement, you have to release it. Both of you.
Resentment is a grown-up grudge. So don’t give them an opportunity to go full term. What’s done is done. If there is anything that needs to be forgiven, forgive. And let go.
This step alone will uplevel your relationship tenfold.
Centering intimacy in your relationship will make you a better communicator
Because intimacy has no bottom. There is no finish line. The level of intimacy between you and your beloved will evolve as you do.
The deeper you go, the better you get at expressing yourself. And the better you get at expressing yourself the more intimacy you’ll experience.
See how that works?
And you’ll have more sex!
If intimacy is the center of your relationship, you’ll actually have more sex! Even when there are time, health, or financial hurdles.
When sex becomes a medium for intimacy, rather than the source, everything changes. Maybe the way you do sex might look different over time. Or perhaps you broaden your definition of what qualifies as sex.
Building your relationship on a foundation of intimacy will increase your sexy time.
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Sex and Intimacy
Why do men and women get married? Such a simple question deserves a profoundly simple answer – because they want to share their lives with a spouse in a very intimate way. As humans we yearn to be close to another, to be fully known, yet despite this, to be unconditionally loved.
“Intimacy” includes physical closeness and to many this quickly gets translated to meaning a sexual relationship. Of course married love includes sex, as it should, but long married couples will often relate that the sexual part of their relationship is only one of many ways they are intimate with each other.
Other forms of intimacy are emotional, intellectual, heart- to- heart conversations, working together at common goals, and spiritual intimacy. True marital intimacy usually involves being honest with your spouse and allowing yourself to be vulnerable. Because you know your spouse well and trust him/her not to hurt you, you are willing to give yourself completely and risk the unknown.
In emotional intimacy a couple shares their joys, fears, frustrations, sorrows and, yes, anger with each other. This doesn’t mean that spouses yell and scream at each other- or, worse, hit each other- but it does mean that hard feelings can be shared, too. The challenge is to find ways to do this respectfully.
It can be scary at times to let down one’s emotional guard, but when trust is developed over time, it feels safe. Emotional intimacy is one of the strongest bonders in a marriage. It is violated when a spouse shares intimate thoughts and feelings with a friend, co- worker, or on- line.
This can feel betrayal even though it doesn’t involve sexual infidelity.
Intellectual intimacy comes when spouses share a vibrant life of the mind with each other. It may be discussing a book, movie, or play, dissecting all the nuances of the plot and symbolism.
It might be the high of attending a concert together that stirred your souls. It might be knowing that you share similar opinions on social, political, or religious issues.
It’s not a matter of equivalent education, but rather equivalent thirst for knowledge that feeds your common spirit.
Heart- to- heart conversations might be the way that you develop emotional or intellectual intimacy, but sometimes the conversations might not be about anything that momentous.
It might just be sharing the stuff of everyday life.
What concerns are you carrying about your child? Is there a decision to make about a job or a move? Is there a joke that you know your spouse will understand even though it’s not laugh out loud funny?
Sometimes deep intimacy can come without words. It may be a knowing glance as you drive along the highway, and you appreciate the view together, or a long consoling hug when a tragedy strikes your family. It can also be the feeling of satisfaction when doing yard work, household repairs, or working on a social cause together.
Spiritual intimacy should not be dismissed as too esoteric or something just for “holy people.” Prayer is a personal encounter with God. Letting your spouse peek into a sliver of that relationship by saying heartfelt prayers of petition or thanks together is the beginning of becoming soul- mates. See, Who Me, Pray?…With Her for ideas.
And of course, there is sexual intimacy. This physical intimacy is so special and profound because it lays bare our bodies in their beauty and imperfection for the pleasure of our spouse. Such a private moment.
Such a momentous act of total self-giving and trust that we don’t share with anyone else. It celebrates our joy and stirs us apathy.
The possibility of new life being born from this loving act is a miracle almost beyond comprehension.
Being human, we are not perfect. At times we’ll fall short of the ideal of never hurting our spouse. There may be times when trust between spouses is broken. At times this a couple must reach deeply into their reserve of love, change what needs to be changed, and ask forgiveness. That too, is an intimate act.
For Further Reading:
Resurrecting Sex – Intimacy in Marriage, Relationships, Married Couples
Has your relationship ended up in a sexual desert? Perhaps the two of you went through a rough patch (often occasioned by a health scare) and stopped making love. Then — even though you never imagined a dry spell could become the prevailing climate — that desert began to seem too vast to cross. So how do you end the drought?
First step to regaining physical intimacy with your partner? Making time to talk about it.
As a professional sex researcher and relationship coach, I've heard from many people who resist broaching the subject with their partner because they fear rejection. A man in his late 60s, for example, told me his wife turns her back as soon as he slips between the sheets — the unmistakable message being “Don't even think about it.
” A couple in their mid-50s revealed they hadn't slept together in 11 years; first he had an operation, then they had marital issues, and before long their sex lives had become history, not current affairs.
And don't think the disappointment dims with the decades: A man of 80 recently disclosed his sadness at the fact that his wife had stopped wanting sex.
Suspending sex may not be all that uncommon for a couple, but rarely are both members willing to say good-bye to the practice for good. At least one partner ly feels cheated, even betrayed; wasn't sex supposed to be part of that whole “till death do us part” deal?
It can be difficult to end a sexual drought, but it's not impossible. If the situation is dire, see a therapist: A skilled professional can tease out why the sex stopped, and what it might take to resume it.
She or he can help each partner let go of whatever fears or grudges may be keeping sex at bay. Just as helpful, the therapist can prescribe exercises designed to slowly reintroduce physical contact — an approach I recommend.
(Qualified therapists can be located through the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists.)
If you prefer not to involve a therapist, try this gradual, step-by-step method yourselves:
Schedule a chat. Ask your partner to set aside a time to talk about your sex life (or lack thereof). If your partner balks, you may have to press. “It's not optional,” you can point out.
“I would do something this important for you if you asked me.” Unless your relationship is in tatters on all fronts, this should get you permission to discuss it.
If there are medical issues — a bad hip, perhaps, or heart-attack concerns — agree to see a doctor for an exam (and, most ly, some reassurance).
Make contact. Hold hands while you have this discussion. You'll find the physical connection calming: It forges a bond that mere words cannot.
Take it easy. Start the conversation with kind and loving language. Say how much you love your partner, how attractive she or he is, how much you're looking forward to touching (and being touched by) him or her. Explain that you'd to start with cuddling and then massage. A little snuggling should make an easy first step for both parties.
Try nonsexual massage. Experiment with “sensate focus” — a Masters and Johnson technique in which one partner gently strokes the other's naked body, back and front, each person learning how to touch and be touched again.
As you vary the pressure of your touch, you give and get feedback on what feels good; however, there is no attempt to arouse the other person with genital touching. Instead, the goal is a sensual experience that builds trust (and comfort with physical interaction).
Do as many sessions as you need to feel comfortable — and to find yourself craving more.
Clear the decks for action. You may need to buy a lubricant or a vaginal moisturizer to repair tissues. It may be necessary to get medical advice on erectile or medication issues. There are more solutions to physical problems than you can imagine.
Go a-courtin'. Flirt with each other during the day or at a dinner out. Say nice things about the sensate-focus exercises. Put on music. Dress up. Drink a glass of something festive. Set a positive mood.
Aim low. When you feel ready to make love, remove the stress by lowering expectations. Assure one another that this is just a start — the encounter need not include intercourse or orgasms. Agree that the main event is to give each other pleasure again. Then let yourselves cross whatever wasteland has been keeping you apart.
Do it till you're satisfied. Now comes the fun part: Practice what you've learned — and don't wait too long to make love again!
10 Ways to Rekindle the Passion in Your Marriage
Jason and Kendra have been married for 12 years and have three children. Most of their conversations are about work, chores, their kid’s activities, and mundane aspects of their stale marriage.
Kendra puts it this: “I love Jason, but the passion just isn’t there anymore.”
When Kendra drops this bombshell, Jason responds, “I thought we were doing okay, I really did. Even though we don’t have sex much anymore, it just seems a phase we’re going through. I don’t have any energy left by the time I hit the bed at night.”
By all accounts, Kendra and Jason were passionate during the early years of their marriage. However, over the last few years, their sex life has dwindled and they rarely spend time together without their children. Kendra seeks out Jason for sexual intimacy and Jason often pulls away.
According to experts, the most common reason couples lose their passion for each other and stop being sexually intimate is a pursuer-distancer pattern that develops over time. Dr.
Sue Johnson identifies the pattern of demand-withdraw as the “Protest Polka” and says it is one of three “Demon Dialogues.
” She explains that when one partner becomes critical and aggressive, the other often becomes defensive and distant.
Dr. John Gottman’s research on thousands of couples discovered partners that get stuck in this pattern in the first few years of marriage have more than an 80% chance of divorcing in the first four to five years.
Foster Emotional Intimacy
A good sexual relationship is built on emotional intimacy and closeness. In other words, if you’re hoping to improve your physical relationship, you need to first work on your emotional connection. Focus on meeting your partner’s needs and communicating your own needs in a loving, respectful way.
In The Science of Trust, Dr. Gottman explains that couples who want to rekindle their passion and love need to turn towards each other.
Practicing emotional attunement can help you stay connected even when you disagree. This means turning toward one another by showing empathy, instead of being defensive.
Both partners need to talk about their feelings in terms of positive need, instead of what they do not need.
According to Dr. Gottman, expressing a positive need is a recipe for success for both the listener and the speaker because it conveys complaints and requests without criticism and blame. Dr.
Gottman says, “This requires a mental transformation from what is wrong with one’s partner to what one’s partner can do that would work.
The speaker is really saying, ‘Here’s what I feel, and what I need from you.’”
Rekindle Sexual Chemistry
During the early phase of marriage, many couples barely come up for air due to the excitement of falling in love. Unfortunately, this blissful state doesn’t last forever.
Scientists have discovered that oxytocin (a bonding hormone) released during the initial stage of infatuation causes couples to feel euphoric and turned on by physical touch.
It actually works a drug, giving us immediate rewards that bind us to our lover.
Holding hands, hugs, and tender touch are great ways to affirm your love for your partner. Physical affection sets the stage for sexual touch that is focused on pleasure. Sex therapist and educator Dr. Micheal Stysma recommends that you set a goal of doubling the length of time you kiss, hug, and use sensual touch if you want to improve your marriage.
Sexual attraction is hard to maintain over time. For instance, Kendra and Jason lack passion because they are unwilling to give up control and show vulnerability. As a result, they avoid sex and rarely touch each other. Sex therapist Laurie Watson says, “Most sexual concerns stem from an interpersonal struggle in the marriage.”
Here are 10 tips to bring back the passion in your marriage:
1. Change your pattern of initiating sex
Maybe you are denying your partner or coming on too strong. Avoid criticizing each other and stop the “blame game.” Mix things up to end the power struggle. For example, distancers may want to practice initiating sex more often and pursuers try to find ways to tell their partner “you’re sexy,” in subtle ways while avoiding critique and demands for closeness.
2. Hold hands more often
According to author Dr. Kory Floyd, holding hands, hugging, and touching can release oxytocin causing a calming sensation. Studies show it’s also released during sexual orgasm. Additionally, physical affection reduces stress hormones – lowering daily levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
3. Allow tension to build
Our brains experience more pleasure when the anticipation of the reward goes on for some time before we receive it. So take your time during foreplay, share fantasies, change locations, and make sex more romantic.
4. Separate sexual intimacy from routine
Plan intimacy time and avoid talking about relationship problems and household chores in the bedroom. Sexual arousal plummets when we’re distracted and stressed.
5. Carve out time to spend with your partner
Try a variety of activities that bring you both pleasure. Have fun courting and practice flirting as a way to ignite sexual desire and intimacy. Dr. Gottman says that “everything positive you do in your relationship is foreplay.”
6. Focus on affectionate touch
Offer to give your partner a back or shoulder rub. People associate foreplay with sexual intercourse, but affectionate touch is a powerful way to demonstrate and rekindle passion even if you are not a touchy-feely person.
7. Practice being more emotionally vulnerable during sex
Share your innermost wishes, fantasies, and desires with your partner. If you fear emotional intimacy, consider engaging in individual or couple’s therapy.
8. Maintain a sense of curiosity about sexual intimacy
Experiment with new ways to bring pleasure to each other. Look at sex as an opportunity to get to know your partner better over time.
9. Vary the kind of sex you have
Have gentle, loving-tender, intimate, and highly erotic sex. Break up the routine and try new things as sexual needs change.
10. Make sex a priority
Set the mood for intimacy before TV or work dulls your passion. A light meal along with your favorite music and wine can set the stage for great sex.
The good news is that allowing your partner to influence you can reignite the spark you once enjoyed. In fact, Dr. Gottman reminds us that friendship is the glue that can hold a marriage together:
“Couples who know each other intimately [and] are well versed in each other’s s, diss, personality quirks, hopes, and dreams are couples who make it.”
Even if you are not a touchy-feely person, increasing physical affection and emotional attunement can help you to sustain a deep, meaningful bond.
For more ideas on how to rekindle the passion in your relationship, subscribe to The Gottman Relationship Blog below:
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