How to increase emotional intimacy in marriage

How to build emotional intimacy with your partner — starting tonight

When we discuss intimacy in a romantic partnership, what usually comes to mind are physical acts, such as holding hands, cuddling, kissing and even sex. While physical intimacy is integral in any romantic partnership — it’s one of the primary factors that sets it apart from any other type of relationship — fostering emotional intimacy is just as, if not more, important.

What is emotional intimacy and why does it matter?

“Emotional intimacy could be defined as allowing yourself to connect more deeply with your partner through actions that express feelings, vulnerabilities and trust,” says Sanam Hafeez, a neuropsychologist in New York City and faculty member in Columbia University’s clinical psychology Ph.D. program. “Part of a relationship is sharing your secrets, talking about your relationship, and telling your partner important news. A couple is generally happier when both parties can share and understand each other’s feelings.

Ultimately, emotional intimacy creates a deep sense of security within your relationship and an ability to be wholly yourself — warts and all — without feeling as if you risk the relationship itself. Without this intimacy, a relationship struggles in many ways. For example, you might feel bitter or resentful, experience hypersensitivity, have fears regarding your partner’s loyalty to you, or experience feelings of isolation or loneliness.

It's not sustainable long-term to have a romantic relationship without emotional intimacy.

“If emotional intimacy is lacking, [one or both of you] may feel a lack of safety, love, support, overall connection, and it also will most likely affect the physical intimacy in a romantic relationship. It's not sustainable long-term to have a romantic relationship without emotional intimacy,” says Rachel Wright, a marriage counselor and licensed psychotherapist. “If you think about emotional intimacy as the foundation of any relationship, it really becomes a no-brainer to invest your resources (time, money and energy) into building it and continuing to nurture it.

4 immediate ways to improve emotional intimacy

Fostering emotional intimacy is an ongoing practice and, like many things, may take some time to master. However, there are a few things you can do — starting tonight — to improve the emotional connection you have with your partner.

Be strategically vulnerable to earn their trust

Even if we’ve spent an enormous amount of time with someone, it’s sometimes difficult to break down our personal walls. Though you cannot force another to become vulnerable, you can go out of your way to be vulnerable yourself.

“The practice of strategic vulnerability is critically important. Instead of trying to be vulnerable in every area of your life, pick one place to start,” says Paul Hokemeyer, a psychotherapist and author of “Fragile Power: Why Having Everything Is Never Enough”. This might translate to sharing something that happened at work you might not have otherwise discussed, expressing a feeling you’ve had in the past that’s been hard to share, or revealing a fact about yourself that you’ve been holding onto.

Give your partner daily affirmations and compliments

Whether you’re six months into a relationship or 60 years deep, it’s easy to take our partner’s positive attributes for granted and sometimes difficult to express how much we cherish them.

“Making a habit of giving specific compliments and affirmations to your partner can help you keep perspective as to why this person is special to you, and it can help them know you see them. You never want your partner to feel invisible because you forgot to share your appreciation,” says Hafeez.

These verbal affirmations can be as simple as saying, “I want you to know how deeply I love you” or “I really appreciate the time you’ve taken to do x, y or z.”

Prioritize sexual satisfaction

A study published in the Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy found that couples reported having a greater emotional connection when they were sexually satisfied. In that sense, the two are inextricably linked. While having sex itself isn’t a cure-all for improving your emotional bond, taking the time to learn and explore your partner’s desires — and having the same reciprocated — can lead to greater feelings of emotional connection in and out of the bedroom, says Hafeez.

Make an effort to break out of your day-to-day routine

With how busy life gets, it’s easy to hit a comfort zone plateau in which we move past each other simply trying to scratch items off our to-do lists. This is in stark contrast to the beginning of a relationship, when everything we do seems new and exciting, and when we go above and beyond.

“This can mean that we have lost sight of the value of doing things for each other that generate joy or intimacy in the other person. We stop trying to impress, we stop trying to understand, and in such environments, vulnerability and feelings can get lost to the routine of the everyday,” says Hafeez. “It is incredibly important that we make time for each other in a more profound way than just dinner or bedtime together.”

Garner inspiration from those early courting days in a relationship. Maybe you plan a spontaneous beginners square dancing date night, you decide to go for ice cream and a stroll, you show up with “just because” flowers, or you sit down together and plan a weekend getaway.

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15 Effective Tips for Repairing Emotional Intimacy

In This Article

One of the factors that contribute significantly to the success of a relationship is emotional intimacy. A lack of emotional closeness or trust can be pretty damaging for marriage; it can even lead to marriage failure!

Once lost, restoring intimacy in marriage can be pretty difficult. There is no need to lose hope, though. Numerous things can be done to rebuild emotional intimacy.  

What is emotional intimacy?

Emotional intimacy refers to closeness where both the partners in a relationship feel comfortably secure and loved.

In an emotionally intimate relationship, communication and trust play a key role. When you are close emotionally, you can know about your partner, including their fears, dreams, and hopes.

Even the findings from a study suggested that in both male and female partners in romantic, long-term relationships, higher levels of intimacy are associated with stronger sexual desire, which is, in turn, associated with higher odds for partnered sexual activity.

Related Reading: What is Emotional Intimacy?

Importance of emotional intimacy 

Without a deep emotional connection, the couple is incomplete and will likely not stay together for the long term.  

Good sex can only hold a relationship together for so long. There must be a base of emotional exchange for the couple to grow together, to know each other completely, and allow each other the space to show vulnerability without the fear of being criticized or shamed.  

Emotional intimacy allows a couple to be 100 % authentic with each other and still feel loved and safe.

Emotional intimacy is vital in marriage, as it enhances lovers’ spiritual, physical, and emotional bond. 

The level of a couple’s emotional closeness is where this article centers. So, how important is an emotional connection in marriage? 

The importance of intimacy or emotional bonding can not be underlined enough. 

A solid emotional connection fosters feelings of comfort, security, refuge, and mutual support between couples. In contrast, a lack of emotional intimacy leads to communication problems, helplessness, and loneliness in a relationship.

So, for those looking for a definite answer to the question, “Is intimacy important in a relationship?” emotional intimacy is the best way for couples to express their love for each other.

Emotional intimacy examples

The greater the emotional intimacy, the more fulfilling the relationship and marriage will be. With that said, you may have trouble pinpointing the characteristics of an emotionally intimate couple. You know that’s what you want but aren’t sure how to create emotional intimacy in your relationship.

To identify some exemplary examples of emotionally intimate couples, let’s dive into what it looks like and then how to build emotional intimacy:

1. Openness

Emotionally intimate couples are open and vulnerable to each other. There are no barriers to forcing their partner to break through; they offer their heart and soul to each other without hesitation. 

To create a vulnerable and open atmosphere in your relationship, you must lead by example. 

It would be best if you offered a big piece of yours for your partner to open their hearts to you. It will show them that you are willing to put yourself out there, even if it means getting hurt.  

Without risking your heart and soul, you won’t experience the most profound connection. You may be protecting yourself by keeping your guard up, but you never really let your spouse or partner into your world. 

2. Honesty and compassion

Openness can only come through honesty within the relationship. The “it” couple you envisioned at the beginning of this article has learned that over time. When they speak to each other, they do so with a compassionate heart but an honest tongue. 

There may be some harsh truths that need to be said, but they can be told in a way that doesn’t crush the other person. The only way to grow closer and truly foster emotional intimacy is by being truthful with one another.

It would help if you led from the front to create an honest and compassionate dialogue with your partner. 

Coming into the room with agitation and fury will never allow honesty to flourish. Come from a place of empathy and compassion and you will become closer with each conversation.

Related Reading: Why Honesty in a Relationship Is So Important

3. Physical touch

Although the physical piece of a relationship is its own realm of intimacy, it’s important to highlight the magnitude of touch in transmitting an emotion. A simple touch can say a whole lot and communicate plenty of emotion. 

Communication is not just something that passes through your lips; emotionally intimate couples use their bodies to let their partner know how they feel about them.

To bring a more intimate physical touch into your relationship, start being more intentional about how you use it within your relationship. Don’t think that your physical touch should only reside in the bedroom. 

Thinking about, “How to be more intimate with your partner?”

Give more hugs, hold each other’s hand, or even tickle your spouse if the opportunity presents itself. There is plenty of emotion that can be packed into a meaningful touch. Don’t let that opportunity to get closer go to waste.

Related Reading: What is the Physical Touch Love Language®?

4. Forgiveness

The couples that make it the longest and love the deepest are those who can forgive and do so authentically. Being married to someone is a lifelong commitment and people are bound to make mistakes. As humans, we are imperfect. It just comes with the territory. 

For a couple’s intimacy to flourish, forgiveness must be at play. If they never forgave each other, that would create distance and resentment between them.

Research shows that forgiveness is connected to higher levels of relationship satisfaction.

As with most of these attributes and examples of emotional intimacy, forgiveness must be modeled before your partner gets on board. Forgive them for something that you’ve been holding a grudge for. 

Let that resentment roll off your shoulders and open yourself up to your partner like you haven’t ever before. Show them that they are forgiven, and they’ll be more likely to forgive you in feeling that weight lifted off their shoulders.

Related Reading: The Significance and Importance of Forgiveness in a Marriage

15 ways to improve emotional intimacy

Signs of a lack of emotional intimacy are easily recognizable and include hidden emotions, secrets, lack of trust, and poor communication. 

The following are some intimacy tips for repairing emotional intimacy, as well as strengthening it:

1. Work on yourself first

How to repair emotional intimacy if you are ridden with a lack of self-assurance and don’t exude confidence?

The bitter pill of truth is that you can’t enjoy emotional intimacy in marriage since a lack of self-esteem affects your relationship with your spouse.

When you feel bad about yourself, your insecurities fuel arguments and conflicts, and you won’t be able to respond positively to your partner.

If you’re wallowing in despair, you aren’t going to affect positive change. The first step will include attending the gym, taking a class, baking a pie, or seeing a therapist.

Whatever it takes to boost your self-confidence, self-worth, and personal happiness – will be a crucial instrument in your marriage and building emotional intimacy.

Some say that the happiest couples lead their own individual lives, have individual interests, and are generally self-satisfied and happy.

The key word here is individual. Go out and find yourself and you will find the definite answer to how to bring intimacy back into a relationship.

2. Spend time together

Wondering how to restore intimacy?

The most basic and essential thing for repairing emotional intimacy is reevaluating the time you spend together. The amount you spend is not the only thing that matters; you also need to take care of how you spend it.

While for one person, watching a TV show you love might be quality time; however, for the other person, this might not count.

However, this also doesn’t mean that you must do something special such as taking time to go on a date night or taking a vacation to be close again.

Couples experiencing a lack of closeness do need to spend a lot of time together to re-establish that emotional connection.

You can be together; there is no need to constantly talk or be engaged in an exciting activity. Simple spending time with each other can also bring about a sense of closeness.

Related Reading: 11 Ways to Spend Some Quality Time With Your Partner

3. Take a break from electronics

Repairing emotional intimacy depends primarily on the quality of interaction. While texting is a great way to keep communicating, it distracts a person from real intimacy since there isn’t any one-on-one interaction.

So, make sure to switch off all electronics, game consoles, tablets, cell phones, computers, and television, when you guys sit together. Instead, make a habit of conversing about your day.

An effective way to ensure electronics don’t get in the way is to put them in a box and not open them before spending at least two hours of quality time together.

Related Reading: 11 Ways to Spend Some Quality Time With Your Partner

4. Do something fun together

Another way to improve emotional intimacy is to list everything you love doing together. Then, once the list is made, take time to do all the things you listed.

Spending time together this way can help build experiences and memories that can drastically strengthen emotional intimacy.

If you can’t figure out what to do together, think back to when you were newlyweds and how you used to spend time then. Regardless of your chosen activities, you must ensure that you have something fun daily.

Related Reading: 35 Fun and Romantic Games for Couples

5. Value what you have

Your effort and emotional investment directly reflect how much you truly value your relationship. The effort, unlike sentiment, cannot be faked; it can only be witnessed.

An effort is exhibited through many factors, including the time and manner you spend with your mate, your attempts at meeting your mate’s expectations and your continued cultivation of spiritual and intellectual intimacy.

6. Validation is key

Validating one’s mate is conveying to the mate that we understand what they are saying or feeling. It’s about seeing things from their perspective, even if we don’t share the same perspective, because it’s their truth, and we are simply showing that we believe that they believe it. 

As such, empathy is a fundamental component of validation. What better way to activate an emotional bond than to listen to your mate, without ridicule or judgment, and to show them that you hear where they are coming from on a particular subject.

7. Practice being vulnerable

To get to validation, one of the mates has to be vulnerable enough to express their thoughts and feelings first.

An unwillingness to be vulnerable can be a significant roadblock to enhancing emotional intimacy, limiting the sharing of a wide array of emotions, thoughts, and experiences. It must be addressed if your goal is to feel closer to your mate. 

One of the ways you can learn to be vulnerable is to take the necessary steps to heal from past hurts and traumas.

Related Reading: 16 Powerful Benefits of Vulnerability in Relationships

8. Be more romantic

Being romantic means you perform small but thoughtful gestures that symbolize your love.

Giving love notes, cooking a romantic dinner, or presenting them with a wrapped gift for no other reason than to say “I love you” are examples of romantic behavior and go a long way in rebuilding intimacy.

To enhance emotional intimacy, don’t be afraid to go outside of your comfort zone, exercise some creativity, and then stick with what works.

Related Reading: 30 Ways on How to Be Romantic in Marriage

9. Try intimacy-building exercises

Many couples remain physically attracted to one another but encounter difficulty connecting due to a lack of emotional intimacy.

If you are the one who believes your relationship lacks an emotional connection, try these six exercises to give it a boost.

  • Seven breaths
  • Gazing
  • Conversational connection
  • Memorize by touch
  • Five things
  • Hug like there’s no tomorrow

10. Be more expressive

Scientific evidence supports the physical power words have over our minds and bodies.

So then, if you have the choice to speak either positively or negatively to your significant other, how much more likely will you be to speak words of life?

Unfortunately, in times of frustration or anger, it is easy to overlook our words’ power and use harsh ones.

When being more attentive to the words that leave your mouth, you can encourage emotional intimacy by creating a safe and protected place for your loved one to be open and honest.

11. Be more positive

Let go of the need to be correct, the need to tell your partner what to do, the need to point out his faults and weaknesses, and the need to keep score.

Taking away these emotional intimacy blockades will give your partner positive, supportive, and kind emotions.

Check out this video to learn more about the power of positivity:

12. Take care of your health

Look after your appearance; being stylish sometimes for fun can be good for yourself and the relationship. It will give your spouse the added attention they didn’t ask for but will be glad it is there.

If you look like something special, then you will be perceived as something special, it is as simple as that.

13. Live in the moment

One of the simplest ways to increase emotional intimacy with your partner is to focus your full attention on him when he speaks to you. Put down your phone, and stop typing on the computer.  

If you are standing at the sink doing dishes, stop, turn your body towards him, and look him in the eye while listening. You will be amazed at how the closeness factor increases with this one little tip.

14. Address issues as they arise

Couples who harbor resentment or anger do damage to their emotional intimacy baseline.  

While you may not be able to immediately have a tough conversation due to children being present or your spouse being away on a business trip, you can at least say that you would like to discuss the issue.

“When you get back, let’s schedule a moment to check in about….” is enough to get it on the radar. Don’t just push it down, thinking it will go away. That is an intimacy-destroyer. 

You want to keep your communication channels open and flow to maintain and increase your feelings of intimacy with each other.

Related Reading: 25 Common Marriage Problems Faced by Couples & Their Solutions

15. Be generous in unexpected ways

Want to double your sense of emotional intimacy instantly?  

Surprise your spouse with some unexpected generosity. Take over a task they usually would do, like picking up the dry-cleaning or taking the car in for an oil change.

Be sure to tell them so they can cross that off their to-do list. 

If you aren’t usually a flower person, pick up a lovely bouquet on your way home, “just because I love you and I know you love roses.”  

These out-of-the-ordinary acts of generosity help create more emotional intimacy as they are so unexpected and appreciated.

The bottom line

No matter who you are, marriage takes work.

Take stock of your married life now and then, and ask yourself if you are satisfied with the emotional intimacy you have. For all those looking for the answer to the question, “What is emotional intimacy in marriage,” your question is answered here.

If it has started to slip, deal with things now and nurture the relationship over time. Improve your emotional intimacy with your spouse and you’ll be one of the couples that can make the marriage work.

5 Powerful Ways to Increase Emotional Intimacy - Soul Site

Whether you're in a new relationship or have been married for a long time, creating and maintaining emotional intimacy is a process that requires a lot of effort and attention.

Unfortunately, too many people assume that the natural emotional attraction and passion that comes early in a relationship won't go away over time. However, emotions fade, so they need to be periodically fed.

It is also interesting that certain times of the year are conducive to emotional intimacy, while at other times it is difficult to achieve. Look at other couples and you will find that in winter couples hug more, snuggle up to each other. Especially on the eve of winter holidays, such as Christmas or Valentine's Day, as if intimacy is inextricably linked with dates and events.

The key task for your couple is to understand that emotional intimacy can be enjoyed at any time of the year and under any circumstances.

Health Benefits of Emotionally Intimate Relationships

Before looking at some of the techniques that can be used to build emotional intimacy, let's look at why it's so important.

Emotional intimacy provides a strong sense of well-being not only for the couple, but for each person in the relationship. People who are in emotionally close relationships are more likely to have stronger immunity, fewer problems with headaches and lower blood pressure. This means that the psychosomatic impact of emotional intimacy is enormous.

Here are some tips that can increase intimacy in relationships:

  1. Follow the five minute rule

Take 5 minutes a day to discuss something other than your relationship, children, or work. Discuss issues in areas you both have an interest in, such as movies, sports, or future dreams. This can be done in person or over the phone if needed.

Unfortunately, many couples make the mistake of thinking that discussing everyday tasks and problems is communication, but this type of communication does not satisfy the need for intimacy, and even interferes with it.

  1. Remember and respect your differences

It is extremely important to remember that men and women are different in different areas, which means that their perceptions and answers to the same questions will be different - this is especially true in areas of emotional intimacy. One of the key elements to understand is that women need to feel close in order to feel sexual, while men tend to feel emotional closeness as a result of an intimate act.

  1. Acknowledge your emotional experience

Identify and note your emotions with your partner. Too often people tend to reject them even though they are part of the emotional intimacy that is so important to a relationship.

  1. Treat intimacy as a process

One of the biggest mistakes people make is expecting automatic and instant emotional intimacy. However, this is an ongoing process. When you don't give yourself permission to participate in this process, it can become unpleasant.

  1. Explore new activities

Variety is the spice of life. All relationships need to be renewed. To freshen them up, make an effort to plan new experiences with your partner. Sharing new experiences is a harbinger of emotional intimacy.

Whatever you do, make sure you find something that makes you smile. Laughter can heal relationships in the most difficult situations. In the end, it should be understood that emotional intimacy is a process that requires the consistent efforts of both parties.

5 Powerful Ways to Increase Emotional Intimacy

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Psychologist's advice: how to improve family relationships by deepening emotional intimacy | Lifestyle

Building a full-fledged, stable, pleasant relationship for all participants in marriage is a real art. Many try to comprehend it by entering into a formal union, but the disappointing divorce statistics indicate a high percentage of those who failed to achieve mutual understanding. How does it happen that the “candy-bouquet” period suddenly transforms into quarrels and screams, swearing for no reason and the subsequent parting with the division of property? And, more importantly, how to avoid it?

Is there a way?

Others joke that the word for the official union was not chosen by chance: in Russian marriage is called not only marriage or marriage and subsequent life together, but also an unsuccessfully made object, mistakenly performed work. This is nothing more than a coincidence, but it leads many to think about the uselessness of the institution of official relations between the sexes. While others argue about it and are ready to prove their truth with foam at the mouth, others follow the beaten path. Man is a social being, so it is natural to want a permanent, stable couple. Having created a romantic relationship, you need to be able to save them - and then the marriage from getting married will never turn into an unsuccessful business.

What is needed in marriage?

Others hold the following opinion: marriage is a relationship between two representatives of the opposite sex, created for intimate contacts and the production of joint offspring. What words are you talking about? Spouses do not need to talk, and nothing. This is not why an alliance is concluded - it has much more practical goals than a productive dialogue.

However, not everything is so banal. It has long been proven that emotional intimacy is possible only between people who trust each other and are able to share the innermost. This means that without dialogue, a normal, happy marriage is impossible. There will be no intimacy if the two do not maintain communication, do not share through words what is in their soul, what is painful and boiling, what delighted and surprised. Physical acts are an important part of marriage, but not the only one.

Does it matter?

Others think that intimacy is enough, it is strong and does not require support in the form of additional connections. This may be true for some, but for a minority rather than a majority. Emotional intimacy enhances many aspects of life together. It affects many aspects of a healthy relationship—including the physical. Intimate contacts are necessary for the atmosphere of romance at home, but only one who can talk with his life partner becomes a good spouse. For a marriage to last for many years, a couple must make an effort to create a strong emotional bond.

What is it about?

Emotional intimacy is a phenomenon that characterizes relationships with a chosen partner. It includes the nuances of building a dialogue and the level of closeness of the relationship. This closeness is the trust that exists between the two, and the nuances of its demonstration. This includes a sense of closeness, connectedness. This phenomenon includes the physical attraction that exists between spouses. It is not easy to establish such relationships, even more difficult to maintain them. For emotional intimacy to emerge, mutual trust and mutual support are needed. It is possible if both respect each other and maintain dialogue on an equal footing. Only under such conditions does a person gladly share innermost experiences and thoughts with a partner and listen with pleasure to his response outpourings.

Deeper and closer

Really close emotional relationships can be created if partners make an effort. The spouse, feeling that he is fully accepted, respected for who he is, opens up. An important aspect is the sincere admiration that the chosen one shows. Perhaps one of the two, or both, is having difficulty. We all have failures in our lives. The spouse has the right to know about it. If this does not prevent him from respecting, loving and admiring his soulmate, a particularly powerful emotional connection is created, the relationship becomes close and close. Such a relationship entails more than just trust. She is the basis for support, at the same time she shows the compassion of a loved one. This becomes the unbreakable foundation of a long-term relationship.

Day after day

When a relationship is just starting to develop, a couple puts maximum effort into it. If the marriage has only recently been concluded, both try to maintain a productive, mutually beneficial, and close dialogue. It happens by itself, people don't think about it. Years go by, the severity of relations weakens. Only consciously people can maintain emotional intimacy over the years. Realizing the need for this, both try to do everything that they did during the period of courtship, attracting the attention of their chosen one. Each of the spouses makes efforts so that his life partner will be in love, interested, happy and proud of his choice even after years. Such couples have access to tender relationships, effective communication. They know how to do something together and practice it so that everyone becomes even happier.

Habit is second nature

Years pass and people take life partners for granted. Many communicate less often, do not show attention, do not show affection for the chosen one. Spouses rarely confess their love unless they are asked about it. This breaks the emotional closeness that is needed for the dialogue to be effective. It also affects the quality of the physical connection. Without closeness, all aspects of a marriage suffer. It may not be the end of the world, but it could easily be the end of a marriage.

Are there ways?

If emotional intimacy existed but is lost, it can be restored. This will require a review of habits, previous actions, current behavior. A commitment to investing in marriage is one of the keys to building a quality family. In a healthy relationship, both feel safe. People feel protection and love, they are confident in the chosen one. If there is no emotional mood and connection, this affects the perception of the chosen one at different levels. Psychologists have found that spending time alone with each other outside of domestic conditions can change the situation. They advise honestly and openly discussing your feelings with the chosen one, confessing them, confirming them, and also indicating how valuable the contribution of a life partner to relations between spouses is. Important aspects are kindness to each other, respect for feelings and thoughts, loyalty to relationships in all aspects. No need to flirt with strangers, even innocently, so as not to offend your companion.

Practical issues