Couples & Romantic Love: 9 Ways to Build Intimacy in Relationships

Couples & Romantic Love-9 Ways to Build Intimacy in Relationships; www.DrChristinaHibbert.comRomantic love: We have to work at it. It doesn’t just happen on its own. Well, it does at first. But if we sit by and do nothing, over time, the fire will die. Sad, but true.

 

Many people think romantic love is all about fireworks and passion and excitement. While these are wonderful, the true key to romantic love is intimacy. Some definitions of intimacy include: “a close, familiar, and affectionate personal relationship;”  “a close association with or deep understanding of;” “closeness.” Intimacy isn’t just physical connection. It’s about truly knowing and understanding someone; it’s about feeling close.

 

 

Couples & Romantic Love: Intimacy is the answer

Intimacy is something all couples need to build, if you want a relationship that lasts. You may be still in the flames of hot romance, in which case your relationship is almost certainly new. If so, you need to continue to get to know each other; you need to build intimacy. Or, your relationship might feel like it’s flaming out after a long haul–say, after fifteen years of marriage. In this case, it’s building intimacy that will get the physical fires going again. Even if you’re on the brink of a relationship meltdown, intimacy is the answer. You need to work on this relationship, to give it your all. That requires a commitment to building intimacy; it’s the only way to prevent a crash and burn.

 

I’ve been married now for 18 1/2 years, and I know how romantic love can fluctuate between hot and cold. I know that sometimes things feel simple and easy, while other times, it feels like the romance is gone completely. But I also know, in most cases, with work and dedication, the romance never has to fade. I’ve been working on my next book, about self-esteem after a breakup, and let me tell you—the grass is almost never greener. It isn’t easier to let the flames die completely, to “fall out of love,” to do nothing and let your relationship end. It’s much better to work hard now, to value and keep what you already have, to rediscover the love you once knew, and to improve the relationship you’re so fortunate to already have.

 

Work on your Relationship; Build Intimacy

Whatever your relationship situation, it’s important to work on things–always. Think of it like a job or a talent. If you don’t practice and give it time and effort, it’s not going to get better. You must commit to making your relationship stronger, and if you do, you will feel the benefits.

 

I’m talking about more than just a regular date-night. Though that can certainly help, I’ve seen plenty of couples who go out to dinner and a movie every Friday but never talk, or they only talk about the kids, or they come home just to get in their flannel pj’s and watch TV until they fall asleep. No romance. No true connection. No intimacy.

 

 

9 Ways to Build Intimacy in Relationships

So, make a commitment to strengthen your relationship today. Commit to building intimacy. Make it your life’s work. Keep the romantic love alive and well. Here are 9 ways to get started today.

 

1)   Work on communication. Communication is the number one issue couples complain about when they come to me for counseling. “He never talks to me.” “She won’t stop nagging me.” I’ve heard it all. The truth is communication is the most important thing we can work on, and we all need some work when it comes to communicating effectively. Most of us have no idea how to communicate what we need, how to ask for help, or how to just express things in ways our partner will actually hear. You can start by simply talking about your day. Tell your partner about your “highs” and “lows” of the day. Be vulnerable and share your fears. Be brave and share how much you missed them all day long. Just talk–about the big stuff, and the little. This builds the positive side of your relationship and protects you when the tougher times come. Then, learn how to argue fairly, kindly, with compassion. There are plenty of other ways to get the communication flowing again, and this post/video about the 5 Love Languages is a great place to start. Bottom line, however, is to first commit to improving your communication. Then, get to work and do it.

 

2)   Strengthen your physical connection. Physical intimacy is about much more than just sex. It involves spending time together, hugging, cuddling, holding hands, and even a back rub after a long day. The more you expand your definition of physical connection, the stronger your physical connection will be. Watch a move and cuddle in front of a fire. Give each other a long, tight hug after you get home from work. Kiss each other hello and goodbye. Reach out and grab your partner’s hand when s/he least expects it. Show each other you just like to be together, that you are interested in each other physically and not just sexually. Then, make sure you make time for sex, too. It’s important to keeping your marriage strong. Especially for parents, protect your intimate time together. Plan it, if need be, after the kids are asleep or when you can take them to a sitter for the night. Go away for a weekend as often as you can. You need time to just be together as a couple. You need to remember the physical fire is still there and keep it burning.

 

My husband and I, playing, as we toured the Big Island of Hawaii!

My husband and I, playing, as we toured the Big Island of Hawaii!

3)   Have fun together. Laugh. Be playful. Be silly together. Too many couples, especially those who have been married a long time, forget to have fun, but fun is important to life. In fact, research shows that adults who play are more creative and joyful. Play has also been shown to create deep bonds between strangers, promote healing, and yes, create more intimacy and connection in our personal relationships. Let loose together today. Go and play. (More on  play, read this.)

 

4)   Get to know each other better. No matter how long you’ve been together, there is always something more to know about one another. In fact, simple exercises like talking about your childhood, your dreams/goals, or your stresses/successes each day can improve intimacy by leaps and bounds. Make time to talk about your life. Have each partner write 20 questions to discuss, then cut them up and put them in a jar. Spend a night or two or ten choosing questions and getting to know each other. The more we know one another, the more we understand one another, and the greater our romantic bond.

 

5)   Get involved in each other’s passions. You like to paint and he likes to go to sporting events? That’s ok. It’s good to have your own activities. However, it’s important to try and share some passions and activities, too. Try an artistic adventure together, or go with him to that basketball game. Develop hobbies you both enjoy, like hiking or traveling, or whatever it may be. Something obviously brought you together in the first place, so keep those similar passions thriving by actively planning to do them together.

 

6)   Be a team. Every time you come together to solve a problem, you build your team. It may be working out parenting issues with your kids, deciding how to handle aging parents, or venting about an issue you both “can’t believe!” These things bring you together. Working together also builds your team–whether it’s on a home project, at work, or in the community. Seek opportunities to work together, as a team. You need to be a team. You need to count on each other. It’s a huge part of romantic love and lasting relationships.

 

7)   Support “free time” for one another. A strong partnership begins with two strong individuals. In order to keep you each strong and healthy, it’s important to have time to do what lights you up and inspires you. Support each other in solitude, hobbies, and individual passions. It will make for a happier partner and bring even better conversations, too!

 

8)   Build your spiritual connection. I recently spoke with a friend whose husband was struggling with what he believes about God. She, on the other hand, feels strong in her faith. However, they talk aobut it. They attend church together. They pray together. It may just be discussing the meaning of life, or it may be regular prayer and church, but whatever it is, it’s important to develop your spiritual connection as a couple. Make it a part of your everyday plan for a stronger relationship.

 

9)   Be social together. Going out with friends or being around other people as a couple allows you to see another side each another. For instance, my husband is “the fun guy” with our friends. He makes everyone laugh and keeps people entertained with his daring stunts and inventive ideas. I love this about him. It’s entrancing to see how he is around other people. I love that my friends love him, too. Being around friends, or in social situations, can bring out another side of your partner and remind you of some traits you might have forgotten. Go out. Be with people you enjoy. Have fun together. It will rekindle the spark and keep it burning for years to come.

 

What helps you build intimacy as a couple? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment, below!
#1 Amazon Bestseller, This Is How We Grow, by Dr. Christina Hibbert, Available now on Amazon.com! www.ThisIsHowWeGrow.com
Be sure to check out Dr. Hibbert’s Amazon Bestseller, This is How We Grow
available now on Amazon.com!

 

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About Dr. Christina Hibbert

Clinical Psychologist, Mom of 6, Postpartum Couples DVD Producer, Non-Profit Founder, and expert on Parenting, Women’s Emotions, Pregnancy & Postpartum, and Grief & Loss, Dr. Christina Hibbert loves songwriting, learning, and teaching what she learns. She really hopes you’ll join the Personal Growth Group and choose to grow together!

Comments

  1. Very nice article. You’ve prepared a wonderful list, thank you.

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