I see so many couples each week bringing a variety of different problems. However the one thing they have in common is lack of intimacy.
Intimacy refers to a level of closeness where you feel safe and have autonomy - a recognised connection together. This is a feeling that comes from an action taken to show up in the relationship.
There are four types of intimacy which are key; emotional, physical, mental and spiritual.
Couples who have an emotional connection are 70% more likely to stay together. Having a continuous connection can foster physical intimacy which strengthens the bond between two people bringing with it closeness, love, and affection.
Intimacy in a relationship is the pivotal pillar of healthy relationships, couples who are seeking therapy due to the lack of intimacy feel less significant.
When sex is going well, which means you're having it consistently, and not having any major problems, then it really only accounts for about 15 - 20% of relationship satisfaction. However, when intimacy is in place throughout the relationship this encourages emotional connection, it instills trust, understanding, acceptance, and makes you feel more connected to each other. Then levels of connectivity and openness are more available to you.
Relationship can sometimes go from stranger to friend to lover to stranger again. You are not strangers, you have history, memories, investment. How long you keep the separated feelings the more awkward it is to bring intimacy back on line. The experience of emotional intimacy plays a particularly large role in maintaining sexual desire and helps to sustain romantic connection for longer.
The Top 5 things I recommend couples start implementing to help connect back to each other…
Acknowledging your partner for something they did that made you feel significant. Sharing it with them will help you to establish a kindness and noticing off each other.
Awareness of behaviours which you identify as a character trait which you admire in your
partner and observe how it shows up and when.
Admiration can increase closeness and a collegiate response. Usually we notice but do not voice it. Validating the qualities most admired brings a sense of warmth.
Negotiation is healthy.
It is pivotal to not feeling lost or rejected. Allowing yourself to actively listen to what is being proposed, instead of pseudo-listening whilst planning your next sentence to get your needs met.
Look for ways to negotiate with your partner so you both feel heard and acknowledged. Actively listen to your partner, negotiate solutions, walk away with a plan.
‘Sorry’ is precious make it count.
When you step on your partner's toes practice repair, even a gentle ‘pineapple’ (safe word) messed up there. ‘I’m sorry’ will go a long way.
‘Crying wolf’ when overuse saying sorry and the behaviour continues, this erodes the relationship and sets up a lack of trust and disconnection. ‘Sorry’ is recognising the hurt or triggers which forms the wounds which need to be repaired.
As we change and our mindsets evolve, don’t make assumptions about your partner, check out and be curious.
Build your knowledge about their world, ask personalised questions like ‘How are YOU?’ this is intimate. Or ‘So pleased you are home’. Curiosity has an energy about it. Seeking connection and closeness.
The tips above may help to slow your thoughts, decide on how you want to show up in this relationship. STOP reacting to your partners reactivity. Not changing is still making a choice.
There are some couples where one or both of them has not had the blueprint for intimacy, closeness or affection.
With a therapist you can discuss this and make headway to become more connected, looking at behaviours when discussing intimacy and the responses you get. Also looking at how emotions and physical touch was shown in your family of origin.
"Intimacy is not something that just happens between two people; it is a way of being alive. At every moment, we are choosing either to reveal ourselves or to protect ourselves, to value ourselves or to diminish ourselves, to tell the truth or to hide. To dive into life or to avoid it. Intimacy is making the choice to be connected to, rather than isolated from, our deepest truth at that moment."
— Geneen Roth