“Intimacy is based on shared vulnerability…Nothing deepens intimacy like the experiences we share when feel flayed, with our skins off, scared and vulnerable, and our partner is there with us, willing to share in the scary stuff.” ~Dossie Easton & Catherine Liszt
Ever had that dream where you leave the house naked? That’s the dream we all dread. It’s not feasible that you would wake up in the morning and simply forget to put clothes on–but the dream still terrifies most people.Advertising
The same can be said for those who struggle with making and maintaining intimate connections. Does the thought of allowing yourself to be completely vulnerable and letting someone see your bare naked soul terrify you? Do you find yourself going from one relationship to another, but you can never seem to find true love? If this is you, you may have intimacy issues.
Many people struggle with developing an intimate relationship with others for a variety of reasons such as:Advertising
- Fear of rejection
- Fear of being hurt
- Fear of exploitation
- Past experiences
- Inability to trust
- Traumatic childhood experiences
These are all legitimate intimacy blockers and valid fears. When we lower our guard and allow people to get close, there are consequences–good and bad.
True Intimacy Keeps People Bonded
Intimacy is a close personal connection between two people that is developed over time. Typically, we learn how to develop intimate relationships as children through our interactions with out parents and close family members. As we grow older, opportunities arise to develop other intimate relationships outside of the home. We learn to establish commitment and trust, and build connections through work, play, sex, and shared experiences. The journey towards creating intimate relationships is therefore potentially never ending and everyone’s experience in learning to be intimate is different.Advertising
The one constant and fundamental truth concerning intimacy is we all have a deep, innate need to have intimate relationships in our lives. Psychologist understand and have proven that relationships matter to our sense of well-being. Throughout life, we need relationships to help us feel connected, boost our feelings of self-worth, and sustain our moods.
The Truth about Letting your Guard Down
When determining how to lower your guard and trust people, there are a few things you must consider, understand and accept.The first of which is that intimacy involves risk. This is just a hard truth about intimate relationships. You could get hurt. But on the other hand you could enter into a relationship and experience love at its deepest level–the kind of love musicians sing about and laureate wax poetically about. You could find yourself in a deep meaningful relationship and experience the euphoria of being totally and completely loved and accepted exactly as you are–flaws and all. Consider the possibility of experiencing true, unbridled, intense and passionate love. As intimacy grows, the intensity of the love and passion grows as well. This happens over time.Advertising
Intimacy Takes Baby Steps
The next fact is that developing an intimate relationship takes time; intimacy is a gradual process. Take baby steps. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT bare your soul and present your heart on a platter on a first date. You are begging for rejection. We all want to be loved and accepted but we must be considerate of the other person. Believe it or not, you are a lot to take in all at once. Throwing all that you are at a stranger or mild acquaintance, all at once isn’t fair to them. Divulge your true self in small doses. Get to know them as you allow them to get to know you. Evaluate their response and then proceed a little further. As you see them begin to open up, you do the same. Mirror their level of intimacy until you are comfortable and it feels safe to share a bit more of yourself.
Mirror Your Expectations
As you begin to gradually open up and connect to the other person, you will have the urge to pull back. During these times it is critical that you remember that you have to give in order to receive. If you want acceptance you have to give it. If you want trust you must first be trustworthy. If you want someone to open up and expose themselves to you, you must do the same. You have to model the behavior you are expecting. Ask questions and genuinely become interested in who your partner (or potential partner) is without judgement. Intimacy occurs when both people share and are transparent and honest with each other. The relationship is not truly intimate if only one person is open.
Learn to Express Yourself
Lastly, understand that as intimacy builds shutting down and refusing to share can quickly kill the intimacy. Learn how to express yourself. Expressing our thoughts, feelings, hopes, dreams, fears and traumas is difficult. Talking is only one mode of communication. Write out your dreams, journal your feelings and fears and then, let your significant other read it. Illustrate your feelings in a painting or drawing and use that as a catalyst for conversation. Find songs that evoke deep emotion or remind you of an experience you had and allow your special someone to hear it and then explain why it is so meaningful to you. There are so many avenues to generate conversation and get naked emotionally–use whatever vehicle that best suits you. Find a way to be open.
A Wise Word on Intimacy
Intimacy is cleverly described by some in the faith community as “In-to-me-see.” When you refuse to allow yourself to be truly seen, you are preventing yourself the emotional sustenance you need to be your best and most complete self. Intimacy is risky but the love and connection that results is definitely worth the risk.
Last Updated on October 17, 2019
How to Spend More Quality Time with Your Partner
You see your partner every single day. They are the first person you talk to in the morning and the last person you kiss goodnight.
But does seeing each other day in and day out equal a healthy relationship? Not necessarily.
Spending quality time with your partner is the best way to ensure your relationship stays healthy and strong. This means going above and beyond sitting together while you watch Netflix or going out for the occasional dinner. You deserve more from your relationship – and so does your spouse!
What does quality time mean? It means spending time with your spouse without interruption. It’s a chance for you to come together and talk. Communication will build emotional intimacy and trust.
Quality time is also about expressing love in a physical way. Not sex, necessarily (but that’s great, too!) but through hand-holding, cuddling, caressing, and tickling. Studies show that these displays of affection will boost partner satisfaction.
So how do you spend quality time with your partner? Here are 13 relationship tips on making the most out of your time with your partner.
1. Recognize the Signs
If you want a healthy relationship, you have to learn how to recognize the signs that you need to spend more quality time together.
Some telltale signs include:
- You’re always on your phones.
- You value friendships or hobbies over quality time with your spouse.
- You aren’t together during important events.
- You are arguing more often or lack connection.
- You don’t make plans or date nights.
- You’re not happy.
If you are experiencing any of these relationship symptoms, know that quality time together can reverse the negative effects of the signs above.
2. Try New Things Together
Have you ever wanted to learn how to play an instrument or speak another language? How about skydive or ballroom dance?
Instead of viewing these as solo hobbies and interests, why not involve your partner?
Trying new activities together builds healthy relationships because it encourages spouses to rely on one another for emotional and physical support.
Shared hobbies also promote marital friendship, and the Journal of Happiness Studies found that marital satisfaction was twice as high for couples who viewed each other as best friends.
3. Schedule in Tech-Free Time
Your phone is a great way to listen to music, watch videos, and keep up-to-date with friends and family. But is your phone good for your relationship?
Many couples phone snub, or ‘phub’, one another. Studies show that phubbing can lower relationship satisfaction and increase one’s chances of depression.
Reduce those chances by removing distractions when spending quality time together and showing your partner they have your full attention.
4. Hit the Gym as a Couple
One way you can spend more time together as a couple is by becoming workout partners. Studies show that couples are more likely to stay with their exercise routine if they work out together. Couples also work out harder than they would solo. One study found that 95 percent of couples who work out together maintained weight loss compares to the 66 percent of singles who did.
Join a gym, do at-home couples’ workouts, try couples yoga, hit the hiking trails, or get your bikes out. No matter which way you choose to exercise, these healthy activities can promote a healthy relationship.
5. Cook Meals Together
Pop open a bottle of wine or put some romantic music on while you get busy – in the kitchen, of course!
One of the best relationship tips for spending quality time together when you both have busy schedules is to cook meals together.
Spice things up and try and prepare a four-course meal or a fancy French dish together. Not only is this a fun way to spend your time together, but it also promotes teamwork.
If all goes well, you’ll have a romantic date night meal at home that you prepared with your four hands. And if the food didn’t turn out the way you’d hoped, you are guaranteed to have a laugh and create new memories together.
6. Have a Regular Date Night
Couples experience a greater sense of happiness and less stress when they are spending quality time together. One of the biggest relationship tips for a healthy partnership is to include a date night in your weekly routine.
The National Marriage Project found that having a weekly date night can make your relationship seem more exciting and helps prevent relationship boredom. It also lowers the probability of divorce, improves your sex life, and increases healthy communication.
Some great ideas for what to do on your date night include:
- Have a movie marathon – Gather up your favorite flicks and cuddle up on the couch.
- Play games together – Cards, board games, video games, and other creative outlets are a fun way to spend quality time together.
- Recreate your first date – Go back to that restaurant and order the same meal you did when you first got together. You can spice up your evening by pretending you’re strangers meeting for the first time and see how sexy the night gets.
- Plan a weekend getaway – There’s nothing better than traveling with the one you love.
- Dinner and a movie – A classic!
- Try a new restaurant – Make it your mission to rate and try all of the Mexican restaurants/Irish pubs/Italian trattorias in your area.
- Have a long sex session – Intimacy promotes the release of the oxytocin hormone which is responsible for a myriad of great feelings.
Here’re even more date night ideas for your reference: 50 Unique and Really Fun Date Ideas for Couples
The benefits of spending quality time together are endless. Here are just some of the ways it can contribute to a healthy relationship:
- Improves emotional and physical intimacy
- Lowers divorce rates
- Improves communication
- Reduces marital boredom
- Bonds couples closer
- Improves friendship
- Boosts health
- Reduces stress
These are all excellent reasons to start making date night a regular part of your week.
It’s easy to have a healthy relationship when you set aside dedicated time to share with your spouse. Try new things together, make your spouse your workout buddy, and look for innovative ways to be close and connected.
These relationship tips will bring great benefits to your marriage.
Featured photo credit: Allen Taylor via unsplash.com
|||^||The American Journal of Family Therapy: Romantic Physical Affection Types and Relationship Satisfaction|
|||^||Journal of Happiness Studies: How’s Life at Home? New Evidence on Marriage and the Set Point for Happiness|
|||^||Personality and Individual Differences: Partner phubbing and depression among married Chinese adults: The roles of relationship satisfaction and relationship length|
|||^||Indiana University Bloomington: The two-month curse: don’t let January workout resolutions fade|
|||^||J Consult Clin Psychol. : Benefits of recruiting participants with friends and increasing social support for weight loss and maintenance.|
|||^||Marriage.com: 11 Ways to Have a Quality Time With Your Partner|
|||^||J Marriage Fam. : Time for Each Other: Work and Family Constraints Among Couples|
|||^||W. Bradford Wilcox & Jeffrey Dew: The Date Night Opportunity|
|||^||Marriage.com: 10 Benefits of Physical Intimacy in Your Relationship|