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Last Updated on April 8, 2021

How to Improve Intimacy in Your Marriage and Rekindle the Passion

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How to Improve Intimacy in Your Marriage and Rekindle the Passion

When two people get married, they never seem to anticipate the struggles that frequently arise as time goes on. In the beginning, it’s easy to have passion and intimacy for each other. But for many couples, this passion and intimacy in marriage tend to wane the longer they are together.

But it doesn’t have to. You can have a healthy, loving marriage that is full of intimacy. It’s not always easy, but it can be done if you both commit to making it happen.

But what is intimacy? How do we define it? Most people probably think of sexuality when they hear the word “intimacy.” But it is so much more than that. So, first, let’s take a look at the different kinds of intimacy.

Types of Intimacy

Believe it or not, the best kinds of marriages have strong connections in all of these areas of intimacy. So, pay special attention to them so you can learn how to foster these types in your marriage.

Physical

Physical intimacy isn’t necessarily about sex. Instead, it’s about holding hands, hugging, snuggling, and spooning in bed at night. Touch creates and maintains emotional bonds outside of the bedroom.

Hugs and holding each other close facilitates your brains into releasing bonding chemicals called Oxytocin.[1] The more you nurture your physical intimacy, the closer you will feel.

Sexual

This type of intimacy is obvious—having a good, healthy sex life. Now, everyone has their own individual sex drives. So, this is something that should be negotiated in terms of frequency and type of sexual interaction you both prefer. Regardless, the chemicals that are released during sexual acts do bond a couple together.

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Emotional

Feeling close to your spouse on an emotional level is also vital to a happy marriage. Saying “I love you” or doing nice things for them is what keeps you both emotionally bonded. If you don’t have that, then you will tend to drift apart.

There are many ways you can pay attention to your partner’s emotional needs. For reference, you can read about Dr. Gary Chapman’s work on love languages. He suggests there are five different ways that people express love: giving gifts, spending time together, physical touch, words of affirmation, and acts of service.[2] Discovering each other’s love language will keep you emotionally intimate.

Intellectual

Most people probably don’t think of intellect as something you would put in the same category as “intimacy.” However, it’s very much a part of the whole package.

Do you both like to engage in intellectual conversations? Because if one of you only wants to talk about the weather and the other wants to explore the possibilities of quantum physics, then it is very difficult to be intellectually intimate.

Spiritual

Not everyone is religious or spiritual. Some people are even atheists. But having a similar spiritual outlook on life definitely bonds two people. For example, someone who is a deeply devout Catholic would probably have a hard time being spiritually intimate with an atheist.

It’s important to talk about your spiritual beliefs and be accepting of each other, even if you are different. The belief in a higher power is something that can bond any couple.

Why Is Intimacy Important in Marriage?

Many people think that when you get married, that’s when you can just sit back and enjoy the ride. But many times, that’s when the real effort needs to begin. And while it would be great if intimacy always stayed natural and easy, for many couples, it isn’t the case.

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Let’s face it—most of us were not taught how to nurture intimacy in our relationships. If we got lucky, we saw our parents do it. But for many people, that wasn’t the case.

Intimacy keeps couples bonded. It’s the glue that holds people together. That’s why it’s crucial that you don’t ever lose sight of constantly enriching the intimacy in your marriage.

So, let’s talk about the reasons why you should continually work to strengthen your intimacy in marriage.

1. It Improves Communication

When you feel distant and disconnected from your spouse, it’s difficult for people to talk and share their feelings. But the problem is that it becomes a snowball effect—the less intimate you are, the less you communicate. And the less you communicate, the less intimate you become.

2. It Builds Trust

When you are not physically or emotionally intimate, it can lead to you wondering what they are doing “behind your back.” Not that they are necessarily cheating, but the feelings of uncertainty can lead to mistrust. That’s why it’s important to stay intimate, so you can keep trusting each other.

3. It Allows You to Open Up More Emotionally

It’s not easy for everyone to share their feelings. Doing so makes people feel vulnerable, and that can be a scary or uncomfortable place for many people. But when you’re feeling intimate with your spouse, it’s easier to open up about how you really feel.

4. It Promotes Teamwork

Marriage is teamwork, but if you are not intimate, then sometimes each spouse eventually “does their own thing.” When this happens, you will inevitably drift apart and become nothing but roommates. But being intimate will reinforce our feelings of being a part of a team together.

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How to Rekindle the Passion and Intimacy With Your Spouse

If you find that you and your spouse are struggling with intimacy issues, don’t give up! Nothing is ever lost that can’t be found and re-created. It just takes some effort, but it is definitely worth it in the long run.

1. Have Sex (or Have Sex More Often)

As I mentioned earlier, sexual contact is not only fun, but it also releases chemicals in your brains that literally bond you together. So, even if your life is busy, make sure that you find the time to have sex—or just do it more often if you already have an active sex life.

2. Touch Each Other Non-Sexually

Granted, not everyone is a touchy-feely kind of person. However, just as sex bonds you, so does non-sexual touch. So, don’t forget to hold each other’s hands or cuddle up on the couch while you’re watching a movie together.

3. Do Things Together

It might sound obvious, but you need to spend time together if you want to rekindle passion and intimacy in marriage! If you’ve been together for a long time, it’s easy to just get into a rut and not do anything fun together. Whether it’s going on a hike or cooking dinner at home together, doing activities together strengthens your bond.

4. Have Deep Conversations

Many couples that don’t spend a lot of time together also don’t do much talking—and I don’t mean the mundane kind of talking like “what did the kids do today” or “what’s for dinner tonight?” It’s important to engage in some meaningful, deeper conversations about life.

5. Step Out of Your Routines

Some people are creatures of habit—in fact, many are. While it’s normal to get up, go to work, come home, cook dinner, watch TV, and then go to bed, that routine doesn’t foster a lot of intimacy. So, make it an intention to try new things and get out of your everyday habits.

6. Have Regular Date Nights

You can spend time together like I just mentioned above, but not all activities you do together will be romantic. So, make sure you have regular date nights. Buy her some flowers, and do something romantic for him. It’s important to keep the romance alive, and regular date nights will definitely help you do just that.

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7. Put Away Your Phones

While technology can be very useful in our everyday lives, it can also get in the way of a couple’s intimacy. Think about it—if you are always on your phone or anticipating when someone will text you or what the latest happenings are on social media, you will be ignoring your partner. So, keep technology use to a minimum when you two are together.

8. Write Each Other Love Letters

At the beginning of relationships, it’s easy to express why you love your partner. But sometimes, as the years roll by, people forget to do the “little things.” You could write a love letter or leave post-it notes around your house with special messages to each other. That way, you will be constantly reminded of your love for one another.

Can a Marriage Survive Without Intimacy?

Many people ponder this question. If you have been in a marriage for a long time but you don’t have a lot of intimacy, can it last? Well, the answer is different for every couple. However, the general answer is this: yes and no.

Sure, you can stay together forever, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be happy if there’s no intimacy. I guess it just depends on what your tolerance level of non-intimacy is. But the happiest couples are definitely the ones who have a deep sense of intimacy with each other, so that’s why it’s worth the effort to re-create and maintain it—so you can truly ride off into the sunset and live happily ever after.

More Tips on Strengthening a Marriage

Featured photo credit: Sharon McCutcheon via unsplash.com

Reference

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Carol Morgan

Dr. Carol Morgan is the owner of HerSideHisSide.com, a communication professor, dating & relationship coach, TV personality, speaker, and author.

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

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How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference

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