Growing Intimacy

If you been a part of Fixable Life/Life Renewal for some time, you have learned that we define “intimacy” as “in-to-me-see.” We believe that this definition explains exactly what true intimacy is: a relationship that allows deep, emotional give and take, with the sharing of secretive and very personal information about oneself.

In the beginning of many relationships, intimacy is what helps create the initial spark. Sharing stories from your past–both good and bad, allowing your partner to see you become vulnerable, is part of the trust-developing process vital for a healthy, grounded relationship.

However, as time goes on, it is not uncommon for the initial spark to dim. If you had told me on my wedding day that I was not going to continue to fall madly in love with my husband more and more each day until “death do us part,” I wouldn’t have listened. Or I wouldn’t have wanted to, at least.

As time moves on, intimacy can become more work. Life happens: jobs, kids, financial responsibilities, friends and family . . . the list of distractions goes on and on. Intimacy is something that needs to be consciously cultivated, or it can easily disappear. This is the reason behind many divorces–so common in our society today.

If you have been feeling a lack of intimacy (or “in-to-me-see,” in this case) with your spouse, here are some simple ways that you can reconnect and grow your intimacy.

1) Reminisce together. While you may not have the time together you once did or feel sparks fly in the same way you did at the beginning of your relationship, the truth is that looking back at happy memories in the past can bring happiness and joy into the present. Whenever my husband and I find time to go on dates (which is not terribly often with three kids!), we like to talk about the fun places we’ve visited, delicious food we’ve tasted, special songs we’ve shared, etc.

2) Speak your partner’s “love language.” The love language theory is nothing new, nor is it necessarily a complete picture about how to express love. However, understanding the ways your spouse expresses love and affection is important; doing so helps you to understand when they are showing that they love you, but also allows you to meet their needs in a better, more effective way.

3) Kindness breeds kindness. Something I’ve discovered in my own marriage is that when I show kindness and gentleness to my husband, he demonstrates the same to me. When we are slow to speak, gentle with our words and actions, and demonstrate love to our spouses, we are showing that they matter, are valued, and that we provide a safe place–which is really the key to intimacy.

4) Be selfless and giving. When we consider the concept of “giving,” we often apply it to gifts. However, for many people, physical gifts wrapped in pretty paper are not their “love language.” When you consider giving to your partner, think of what might be the most meaningful to them. Perhaps it’s taking the kids to the park for an hour so he or she can have a break. Maybe it’s cooking dinner on a night when it’s not “your turn.” Perhaps it is buying a gift. Giving looks different in every relationship, but the message behind giving is the same: I love you. I see you. You matter.

5) Love yourself. This one may sound selfish, but I can assure you it’s not. When you do not love or care for yourself, you cannot adequately love or care for others. Self-care, which seems so impossible at times, is a vital part of mental health and ensures that your own “emotional tank” is full. When your own needs are met, you are better able to meet your partner’s needs.

Nothing in life comes easy . . . nor should it. The best things in life, including a close, intimate relationship with your spouse, come through consistent, hard work.