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.
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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 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. The more you nurture your physical intimacy, the closer you will feel.
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.
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. Discovering each other’s love language will keep you emotionally intimate.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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Featured photo credit: Sharon McCutcheon via unsplash.com