Intimacy is more than just sexual connection between spouses. Of course physical intimacy in married life is not negligible, there are many other ways couples can be intimate with each other. Other forms of intimacy besides physical closeness can include emotional intimacy, intellectual and even spiritual attachment. Intimacy in a relationship usually involves honestly sharing our deepest feelings (joys, fears, frustrations, sorrows and also anger), thoughts, opinions with each other, unconditional acceptance of the partner, and mutual respect and trust. It is a widely held view that effective communication is an integral part of intimacy in that it fosters an environment where intimacy can take place.
Creating space and time for intimate moments with your partner is crucial to avoid future relationship problems. Finding common excuses like `I don’t have time`, or `I`m too tired` can lead to the loss of intimacy and feeling of disconnection which can cause serious communication problems and disagreements. Improving marital intimacy can increase mutual trust and respect which makes resolving love problems much easier. Not only the couple but children in the family can also benefit from a healthy marriage. Children whose parents live in harmony with each other are happier and have less medical and mental problems. Schedule a few minutes each day for conversation with your spouse, and from time to time an overnight or weekend just for yourselves.
Intimacy problems in marriage can surface in many forms. Sexual problems are the most obvious sign of intimacy problems. Unusual erection problems in men, inability to reach orgasm or low libido in women might indicate intimacy issues. Signs are not always that obvious however. Fading emotional intimacy can manifest for example in neglecting joint activities. When one party is preoccupied with interests and activities outside the marriage there is no opportunity to spend time together which could increase feelings of attachment and bonding. This behavior may leave the other partner feeling neglected and lonely in marriage. Where partners begin to live parallel lives chances of having an affair increase, however a friendship which is more intense or intimate than the marriage can cause serious problems as well. In an important sense, any outside relationship that drains one spouse’s ability to attend emotionally, sexually and/or intimately with/to his or her spouse is a potentially damaging affair.
Physical and emotional distance, lack of communication, recurring and unresolved arguments can seriously damage an intimate relationship: feelings of dissatisfaction, unhappiness and helplessness, or a fear of losing the relationship, may cause one of the partners to withdraw and become depressed. A lack of sympathetic attention may account for a loss of enthusiasm and optimism more than stress or work.
Couples counseling can help to reveal the roots and overcome intimacy problems in a relationship. For example fear of intimacy can often be behind these problems. It is when an individual has fears and problems being emotionally and physically close to another person. By exercising and engaging in daily honest, loving conversation with each other, couples learn to become more emotionally open. Many adults have difficulty articulating what they feel due to past experiences or early influences and instead, communicate what their partner wants to hear or nothing at all. Learning about emotions and their logic is valuable to every intimate relationship. Taking a risk to expose your accurate feelings in your relationship is a wise investment. As the relationship grows and thrives, that risk of exposure becomes less risky.
Lack of physical closeness due to past experience often starves the relationship of the intimacy it needs. It is not easy to undo the pain, shame and hurt of the past but learning to be affectionate is the first step. This is essential in answering the question of how to save a relationship.
Frank Gillespie has a Master's Degree in Counseling from LaSalle University in Philadelphia. He is a nationally Certified Counselor (NCC). He has provided therapy for over 23 years. During his career, he has helped more than 10,000 people move past their obstacles towards reaching their potential and fulfillment in their lives. He practices Cognitive Behavioral Therapy with a warm and nurturing approach. In addition to being a therapist, Frank has been an adjunct college professor teaching social work, a clinical consultant, a clinical director, and a seminar speaker. Frank has recently retired from his full time practice to focus on a part time online practice. He is married. He enjoys listening to music, watching sports, power walking, swimming, reading and writing.