It’s no secret that marriages and romantic relationships can be tough. In fact, it’s pretty much assumed that every marriage will go through its share of ups and downs. It’s one of the exciting things about marriage, that it is ever-changing and ever-evolving.
But what if there was something you could do to help make your marriage not just survive, but thrive?
There is, and it’s called emotional intimacy.
Never heard of it before? You’re not alone.
In fact, emotional intimacy is often one of the first things to go in a marriage.
But what is it, and why is it so important?
What Is Emotional Intimacy?
Emotional intimacy is a close, supportive relationship in which you feel safe to express your thoughts and feelings openly.
It is built on trust, mutual respect, and a deep understanding of each other. In an emotionally intimate relationship, you can be yourself without fear of judgment or rejection.
You know that your partner will always be there for you, no matter what.
Emotional intimacy is different from physical intimacy, although the two often go hand-in-hand.
Physical intimacy is about sharing your body with another person, whereas emotional intimacy is about sharing your heart and soul.
When you are emotionally intimate with someone, you are deeply connected on a level that goes beyond words. You share a special bond that cannot be broken.
Creating a strong emotional connection can take conscious effort, but understanding what it is, and creating emotional closeness in your romantic partnership can help build a strong and lasting foundation for a successful and happy marriage.
Why Is Emotional Intimacy Important In Your Marriage?
We all know marriages require effort and attention to stay strong and happy. One important aspect of a solid marriage is emotional intimacy.
When emotional intimacy is present, couples are able to weather the ups and downs of life together and maintain a deep connection.
There are many benefits to having emotional intimacy in your marriage.
For one, it can help reduce stress and conflict. When you feel close to your partner and know that they “get” you, it’s easier to let go of minor disagreements.
In addition, emotional intimacy can make your relationship more satisfying and enriching. When you share your innermost self with your partner, you create a special bond that can be incredibly rewarding.
Plus, emotional intimacy can make your marriage more resilient.
Couples who have a deep level of emotional intimacy are better equipped to handle challenges because they know they can rely on each other for support.
What Destroys Emotional Intimacy?
Emotional intimacy is essential for a happy and healthy marriage. It’s what allows couples to connect on a deep level, share their hopes and dreams, and be fully present with one another.
However, emotional intimacy can be easily destroyed by negative patterns of behavior in a number of ways.
One common way emotional intimacy is destroyed is through criticism.
When spouses are constantly critiquing each other, it chips away at the feeling of safety and trust that is essential for emotional intimacy. This might not even be noticed at first, as they usually attack small things, but over time this builds and builds and can lead to total relationship breakdowns.
Another way emotional intimacy can be destroyed is through contempt.
This can manifest as name-calling, eye-rolling, or any other behavior that communicates a lack of respect. Contemptuous behavior communicates to your spouse that you are superior to them, which makes it difficult to feel close on an emotional level.
Finally, emotional intimacy can also be destroyed by stonewalling.
This occurs when one spouse shuts down emotionally and withdraws from the relationship. When stonewalling becomes a pattern, it creates an emotional distance that can be difficult to overcome. This includes things like giving the silent treatment and using a lack of intimacy as a punishment.
There are other behaviors that can destroy emotional intimacy, and these can be unique to each individual and each relationship. It’s important to talk about what is important to you and what behaviors make you feel more emotionally intimate with each other.
If you want to maintain emotional intimacy in your marriage, it’s important to understand what behaviors are destructive to your relationship, could cause relationship issues and ongoing conflict, and avoid them.
Instead, focus on creating a climate of safety and respect where you can both freely express yourselves without fear of judgment.
Signs Of Emotional Intimacy
Everyone expresses and experiences and receives love differently, but there are some common signs of emotional intimacy.
When you’re emotionally intimate with someone, you feel comfortable sharing your thoughts and feelings with them, even if they’re scary or difficult.
You also trust them to support and care for you, even when you’re at your worst.
There’s a sense of ease and safety in your relationship – you don’t have to put up walls or put on a mask, because you know that you’ll be accepted for who you are.
You can also rely on them for honest feedback and constructive criticism.
Lastly, emotional intimacy is often accompanied by physical closeness – feeling comfortable being close to someone, whether that means holding hands, cuddling, or being in the same room together.
These are just a few of the many signs of emotional intimacy – ultimately, it’s about feeling like you can be yourself around another person, and knowing that they will love and accept you no matter what.
If you’re not sure if you’re emotionally intimate with your spouse, ask yourself these questions:
- Do I feel comfortable being myself around my spouse?
- Do I feel like I can share my deepest thoughts and feelings with them without fear of judgment?
- Do we have a climate of safety and respect in our relationship?
- Do I feel like they truly know and accept me?
If you answered yes to these questions, it’s likely that you have a deep level of emotional intimacy with your spouse.
If you answered no to any of these questions, there may be some areas of improvement in your relationship.
How To Build Emotional Intimacy In Marriage
Emotional intimacy is often thought of as the cornerstone of a happy and successful marriage.
After all, feeling a sense of closeness to and understood by your partner is essential for a strong relationship.
However, building emotional intimacy can be challenging, especially if you and your spouse have different communication styles, if you’ve had relationship problems, or if either one of you has a fear of intimacy.
If you’re feeling distant from your spouse, or feeling like there is a lack of emotional intimacy, there are a few things you can do to build emotional intimacy in your marriage.
Genuinely Care And Show Interest In Each Other
One of the best ways to build emotional intimacy is to genuinely care about each other and show interest in each other’s lives.
Make an effort to really listen when your spouse is talking, and ask follow-up questions to show that you’re interested in what they’re saying.
You can also show your spouse that you care by doing thoughtful things for them, like making them breakfast in bed, giving them a massage, or simply telling them how much you appreciate them.
It’s often the little things you do that have the biggest impact.
Create Habits Of Connection
Another way to build emotional intimacy is to create habits of connection in your relationship.
This can mean setting aside time each week to talk about your relationship, sharing your thoughts and feelings with each other on a regular basis, or even just making an effort to spend more quality time together.
Your habits of connection don’t even need to involve talking.
You could create rituals of reading in bed together before you go to sleep, holding hands while walking, having a glass of wine together at night, or going out on a lunch date each weekend.
Whatever you do, the important thing is that you’re creating opportunities to connect with each other on a regular basis.
Work On Your Communication Skills
If you want to build emotional intimacy in your marriage, it’s also important to work on your communication skills.
This means learning how to listen to your spouse without judgment, being able to express yourself clearly, and being willing to compromise when necessary.
It’s also important that you show genuine interest in what they are saying. Give them sincere attention, make eye contact, and pay attention to your partner’s feelings.
For some, this is second nature, but for others, this could take some work.
If you’re not sure where to start with improving your communication, you could use conversation starters and have fun with the communication process (not all conversations need to be deep and heavy).
You could also consider seeing a professional counselor, marriage counselor, or relationship coach who can help you improve your communication skills.
Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone
Building emotional intimacy in your marriage may require you to step out of your comfort zone.
This could mean sharing something deeply personal with your spouse, trying a new activity together, or even just being more affectionate with each other.
If you’re not used to being emotionally intimate, it might feel awkward or even scary at first.
But it’s important to remember that intimacy is a two-way street, and your spouse is likely just as uncomfortable as you are.
By taking the first step, you’re opening up the possibility for a deeper level of connection in your relationship.
Take A Walk Down Memory Lane
Talking about your past is a great way to get to know each other more.
Remember the early days of your relationship when you couldn’t get enough of each other? You’d hang off every word they’d say and you’d ask a million questions, all in an effort to get to know this new person.
Continuing to ask these questions and making an effort to always learn more about each other can help build emotional intimacy.
Spend Time Together Without Distractions
Turn off your phones, put away any screens, and just focus on each other.
This can be a challenge if you have kids, but it’s important to make time for just the two of you.
You could go on a date night, take a weekend getaway, or even just spend an evening at home together without any distractions.
Making time for each other is an important part of building emotional intimacy.
Celebrate Each Other
Your spouse is worth celebrating. For who they are, for the amazingness that is them, right now, in each given moment.
Celebrate their personal growth, their achievements, or any other nice things that you can think of.
Make an effort to celebrate your spouse often. This could mean telling them how proud you are of them, writing them a heartfelt letter, or even just sending them a sweet text message expressing your love for them.
By making an effort to celebrate your spouse, you’re showing them that they’re important to you and that you cherish your relationship.
Share Your Feelings And Thoughts Openly
One of the most important things you can do to build emotional intimacy is to share your thoughts and feelings with each other openly.
This means being vulnerable and sharing the things that are important to you, even if it’s scary.
It also means being open to hearing your spouse’s thoughts and feelings, even if you don’t agree with them.
Remember, emotional intimacy is about connection, not agreement.
So even if you don’t see eye to eye on everything, you can still find a way to connect with each other.
Sharing how you feel after a bad day, or listening to how your partner feels as you navigate the tough times together may seem like mundane day-to-day issues but being able to talk through these times is key to building intimacy and helping create a stronger emotional bond.
Don’t Be Afraid To Show Vulnerability
One of the most important things to remember when trying to build emotional intimacy is that vulnerability is not a weakness.
In fact, being vulnerable is one of the bravest things you can do.
It takes a lot of courage to open up and share your feelings with someone, especially if you’re not used to it.
But it’s important to remember that vulnerability is essential to emotional intimacy.
Without vulnerability, there can be no connection.
So if you want to build a deeper level of intimacy with your spouse, don’t be afraid to show them your vulnerable side.
This means you need to create a safe environment for each other to share their emotional experiences, while also feeling like you have a safe place to share your own emotions, thoughts, and feelings.
Understand That Emotional Intimacy Can Take Time
The key to building emotional intimacy is to be patient, understanding, and genuine in your efforts.
It’s also important to remember that emotional intimacy is not something that you can force.
Rather, it’s something that develops over time as you and your spouse get to know and trust each other more.
Don’t rush the process.
By taking these steps, you can start to build the emotional intimacy that will strengthen your marriage for years to come.
Is Emotional Intimacy More Important Than Physical Intimacy?
It’s a common question: is emotional intimacy more important than physical intimacy?
The answer, of course, is that it depends on the situation.
There are times when physical intimacy is more important, and times when emotional intimacy is more important.
What’s most important is finding the right balance for you and your partner.
For some people, physical intimacy is more important. They crave the physical closeness and touch of their partner, and they feel emotionally connected when they are physically close.
For others, emotional intimacy is more important. They feel closer to their partner when they share their thoughts and feelings, and they need that emotional connection in order to feel close physically.
The key is to find what works for you and your partner. If you’re not sure, it’s okay to experiment a little bit.
Talk to your partner about what you both need, and try different things until you find what feels right.
Whether it’s physical or emotional intimacy (or both!), make sure you’re getting what you need from your relationship in order to feel satisfied.
You should also take time to talk about how you will handle situations when physical intimacy isn’t a possibility (such as during sickness, or other events which may mean physical intimacy isn’t possible).
This can be a time when you’ll fall back on your emotional intimacy and need a strong foundation to help you through.
It is also important to understand there are other types of intimacy too, such as spiritual intimacy, mental intimacy, and intellectual intimacy, and that these all require attention, and to be built and nurtured in a meaningful way.
Emotional Intimacy Questions To Ask Your Spouse
Sometimes having meaningful conversations with your spouse about what is important to you, what your values are, and what your expectations are can help you to understand and build emotional intimacy in your relationship.
These are a few questions you can ask each other to get the conversation started:
- What are your love languages?
- What are your needs in a relationship?
- What makes you feel most loved and appreciated?
- What makes you feel unsafe or uncomfortable in our relationship?
- What do you need from me in order to feel emotionally safe
- What are your hopes and dreams for the future?
- What do you fear most?
- What do you need from me emotionally?
- What are your thoughts on our relationship?
- How can I be a better husband/wife for you?
- What can I do to support you when you’re going through a tough time?
- What are your favorite memories of us together?
- Why did you marry me?
- What do you love most about me?
- How can we handle issues respectfully when we have different perspectives?
- What does emotional support look like to you?
Building emotional intimacy in your marriage is essential to having a happy and healthy relationship.
It’s important to be patient, understand that it takes time, and be genuine in your efforts.
And don’t forget to have fun! The best way to build emotional intimacy is to enjoy each other’s company and create new shared experiences together.