Many of the couples we see in our practice frequently come to see us because they are feeling disconnected, lonely and isolated from each other. Quite often they are no longer sexually active. Or if they are having sex, it is disconnected and one of the partners, isn’t enjoying it, but just going along to please their partner hoping it will make things better in their relationship. Here are some suggestions on how to build better intimacy with your partner.
The start of a wonderful and fulfilling relationship is to be present with all of the feelings that are evoked by your partner and share them. You need to share all of yourself with your partner, not just your physical self.
In order to be able to share yourself with another you need to know what you are feeling. This may be uncomfortable at first given how overwhelming emotions can be once they get triggered. It can also be difficult because we tend to be uncomfortable with the negative emotions and deal with them in a variety of unhealthy ways such as watching TV too much, over eating, ignoring emotions or dismissing them without fully recognizing them and how they affect us.
The way to fully connect with yourself is to listen to your emotions. Try and quite all the static and noise and really listen your Emotions and Feelings. They are often a good guide or indicator of what you need or are missing to feel fulfillment and joy.
Generally, the internal voice or mind’s chatter tells us not to share our vulnerable side in relationship. Fear says, “If I tell her that I was hurt when she did that she will get defensive or think I am being overly sensitive. “If I share how I really feel she will judge me and not really like me, so I have to keep my true self hidden.”
There is always a lot of vulnerability that is evoked when a person loves another. Think about what your main fear is when it comes to relationships. It is usually that you are not loveable enough. It is important to have the confidence to put all of yourself into a relationship and to know that your thoughts and feelings are important. If they are not being respected and supported this may not be the right partner for you and you don’t need to settle.
Make it an everyday activity to spend alone time with your partner
After you gain clarity about how you feel, the next task is communicating it to your loved one. The primary way to do that is by spending time together, alone! Again, this means that the two of you need to do things together encompass all of your attention without distraction such as being with friends, watching TV or Movie or using alcohol. Yes, it is important to have friends, and to be friends with other couples but you need to make time for each other. Most people are struggling to juggle many responsibilities and are often quite busy. Please don’t use business as an excuse for not spending alone time with your partner. This time is very special and important and should not be viewed as another task. Set aside 20 minutes a day with your partner to be present and invested in each other. You will find that instead of feeling like another responsibility you will look forward to this time and feel energized and connected in ways that have been previously lacking.
There should be no topic off limits with your partner. Talk and share EVERYTHING!
I work with a lot of couples that have been through affairs. Affairs and cheating are usually born out of lack of communication and a lack of emotional intimacy. It is important that you share how you feel about everything that has to do with your relationship WITH your loved one. Talking about it with friends or other supports does not help you to connect and feel closer to your partner but speaking with them directly will. How can you fix what you aren’t aware is broken?
Talk about it right away and do not let it build up. The best way to create distance is to ignore, placate, hide or deny that you are having issues. That said, timing is important so you will want to discuss the important subjects when you have time to give them your full attention. Using the sandwich approach is often helpful in lowering someone’s defenses. Start with a positive, then an area of concern and then end with a positive. (ex. I really appreciate all of the hard work you put in at your job to support us and this family. I hope there is a way we can carve out more time to enjoy each other and would like it if we had date night once a week. Your hard work and diligence has always been an attractive quality to me.
Stop thinking and planning a response and REALLY listen to your partner!
I usually tell my couples that the word “listen” has the same letters as silent. In order to listen, one must stop talking and being quiet. It is important to remember that communication is about really listening to your partner. Sometimes people think that communication is only about talking.
In order to listen better, you can check in with your loved one and repeat what you heard him or her say. We call this mirroring and it is great way to make sure that you are really listening, instead of just waiting for your partner to stop talking so you can make your next point. (ex.” So it sounds like what you’re saying to me is you want more time alone with me because you feel disconnected with all of the responsibilities we both have”).
If something is bothering you, tell your loved one. Act with integrity in all areas so that you don’t have to hide anything. Speak from the heart and it will be better received then if you are shooting from the hip. Use I statements. (ex. “It really hurts when you joke around about divorcing and trading me in for a younger model, it reminds me of how we are both getting older and brings up my insecurities”
Be kind and share your gratitude
Be sure to compliment and say nice things to your loved one when you feel it. Everyone likes to here good things about themselves. Share your gratitude with your loved one. Appreciation and validation go a long way in motivating others to want to continually perform at their best
Following these steps will add emotional intimacy. And the result is that you will feel closer and more connected to your loved one.