It can be very difficult after so much time together to keep intimacy as a priority. Between kids, your career, extra-curricular activities, and running a household, oftentimes intimacy can easily get put on the back burner. If you find yourself in a rut, I want to suggest a few ways to improve your communication and work towards better intimacy. It can improve with intentionality and time!
First, let’s define what intimacy is and isn’t. Intimacy is sex, but that’s not all. Intimacy is the deep, emotional connection you have with your partner. It’s the stability, the comfort, and the familiar. Intimacy is knowing each other inside and out, and accepting each other—flaws and all! Intimacy makes a healthy sexual life possible between the two of you. When you don’t have healthy intimacy outside of the bedroom, it can be hard to connect in the bedroom.
If you and your partner are struggling with intimacy, here are some tips to help improve it:
One of the best ways to get out of a rut is to literally leave your routine. Plan a short weekend trip together. Go someplace new or someplace you both love. Go to dinner, stay in a bed and breakfast, go hiking, or stay in the room all day. The important thing is that you are together. Reconnect and remember why you love each other. Talk, laugh, rest, and relax together. Get out of your normal routine and take a break together.
Go to bed together
This may sound very self-explanatory, but make sure you go to bed together regularly. This pattern establishes a routine for both of you. One of the most important aspects of going to bed together is that you get time for “pillow talk”. It’s the recap of the day, or a conversation about the next day. Pllow talk allows for down time to reconnect after being apart. It’s extremely important that you have time to be close both physically and emotionally at the end of each day.
Do you know your partner’s Love Language? The 5 Love Languages are Physical Touch, Words of Affirmation, Gifts, Quality Time, and Acts of Service. If you don’t know each other’s’ Love Language, click here to take the quiz. It’s important that you are showing each other love in the way you each prefer. Be intentional of speaking their language to them, even if it doesn’t come naturally to you.
Talk about it
If you feel disconnected, make sure you both are talking about it. What do each of you need? How can you work together to increase intimacy? Is it physical intimacy (sex), or is the emotional intimacy a struggle too? You can’t fix it unless you first acknowledge it. Make sure to communicate your emotional needs to your partner. Allow them to share as well and validate your partner’s feelings and needs.
Go out for a nice dinner
If you feel distant, spice it up with a date night! Get dressed up and go someplace nice and romantic. Order drinks and spend some quality time together. Hold hands and be affectionate. Get a break from the kids for a night and escape from your responsibilities. You both need the time to just be adults, and have one-on-one time with one another!
Try something new
One of the best ways to reconnect and build intimacy is to try something new together. Find a new hobby you both agree on, plant a garden together, or start a project. Working together towards a common goal makes you share your thoughts and ideas, and collaborate as a team. Also completing something together gives you both a sense of accomplishment.
Be a safe person
Be open and honest with your partner. Show them love and be kind to them, even when you are mad or if your relationship is not in a great place. Don’t call names, hit below the belt, or be mean to each other. This actually decreases intimacy between the two of you. Make sure that are sharing your thoughts and feelings with them, and encouraging them to share with you. Don’t be critical, but rather be validating and encouraging.
Be grateful for the things your partner does. Tell them how much you appreciate that they think of you. Show gratitude when they pick up your dry cleaning or unload the dishwasher without you asking them to. Remember that a “Thank you” or “I really appreciate that” goes a long way to building intimacy. It helps to build trust and deepen the bond between you when you are appreciative towards one another.
Remember why you fell in love with the other person. Channel that when times are hard in your relationship. Recall memories together and laugh. Talk about your first date or a time when something funny happened in your relationship. Watch your wedding video together or pull out old cards you gave you each other when dating. Remember why you decided to stick with this person.
If intimacy continues to be an issue, it may be because your relationship is too surface-level. Work to connect on a deeper level. This means opening up more about your thoughts and feelings. Try to increase communication more frequently. Share your journal with your partner, open up to them about an insecurity, or share with them a dream you hope to accomplish someday. Let them see all of you, not just the polished version of you. Intimacy will build just by knocking down some walls between you.
If you are reading this, and feel you and your partner are struggling with intimacy, please reach out for help. It’s important to figure out why you may struggle to relate intimately. We would love to help you!
Written by Christy Fogg, MSW, LCSW
*Christy Fogg, MSW, LCSW is a licensed therapist at Journey to Joy Counseling. Christy enjoys doing marriage/couples counseling, individual counseling, premarital counseling. She also provides family counseling, teen and adolescent counseling.