Intimacy is the secret to a loving and fulfilling relationship. There are many sexless couples out there because their relationship lacks intimacy. If your intimacy levels have dipped, you can get it up once again using the following tips.
Lack of intimacy is a major relationship problem especially among couples who have been married for some time. Although lack of intimacy can arise because of omissions from either the man or the woman, it is often a sign of communication breakdown within the relationship.
Women often complain about men’s failure, or inability to be intimate partners with them. They complain that men often don’t listen when women express their feelings, or don’t want to talk about their own feelings at all. Men often assume that intimacy is what happens when you have sex with someone and don’t understand why women fail to recognise what an intimate act lovemaking is. They wonder why they need to talk about their feelings when they are already showing them through sex. Men are often doers and not talkers.
On the other hand, women may also have suppressed emotions and are not able to communicate their feelings openly with their partner, or are not good listeners or are not patient enough. They may also misunderstand their partner or be misunderstood because the couple has not perfected their communication skills.
When intimacy dwindles in a relationship, the couple may find that lovemaking becomes a chore rather than a joy because they have lost sight of the full range of possibilities for pleasure. Lack of intimacy makes sex a very serious business, which almost excludes playfulness.
Intimacy bleeds slowly out of a relationship when couples ignore the main components of intimacy, which include vulnerability, good verbal communication and physical closeness. Intimacy blockers for either sex include unrealistic expectations, intolerance, fear of closeness and dishonesty. It is best to reintroduce intimacy slowly to give it a chance of success if it is already lost in the relationship. The tips we give in this article are best shared with your partner and should be practiced as often as possible.
- Validate each other. Complement or congratulate your partner on a job well done – any job, from a promotion, to setting the table or a good meal. He or she will probably think you are after something if you have not offered compliments in a long time, but just smile and repeat the praise and make it a habit to do so often.
- Grab opportunities to talk. Think back to how detailed your stories were when you were courting. Everything you discuss should be in detail, as this brings the story to life. Ask your partner to explain what they are talking about in greater detail and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Couples who talk often and deeply communicate with each other better.
- Set aside quality talking time. Every couple should take stock of what they want in life from time to time. Where are you heading? What are your unfulfilled aspirations? Be vulnerable and really open up about your hopes and fears. The main aim is to set aside enough time for the two of you. You cannot be intimate if your relationship is nothing more than scraps left over from work, family and friends. Guard your time together jealously and use it to grow your relationship in positive ways.
- Confide a secret. You might tell friends everything, but are you as candid with your partner? Choose something revealing about yourself to tell her or him. Do not worry if you seem to be doing all the confessing. Like sitting on a seesaw, your actions mean your partner will move too and become more candid over time. The more you know about each other, the more you allow intimacy to grow.
- Touch your partner. Reintroduce casual touching into your relationship. Stroke the back of your partner’s hand when he is driving the car; hold hands while she is watching TV; give him a kiss on the back of his neck when he is on the phone; touch her lovingly when she is in the kitchen making dinner. Sometimes a touch is worth a thousand words.
- Share. Make sharing a habit in your relationship. You can buy one tub of ice cream and share. You can feed each other from the same bowl. This can be very sensual especially when you do it on the couch while intimately touching each other. You can also share a bath. Feel free to make love, but remember this is also about being naked together without feeling obliged to have intercourse.
- Set the scene. Take a long hard look at your bedroom. Is it a passion-killer? Stacks and stacks of papers on the side table, clothes lying everywhere, dirty bed sheets… Clear out your bedroom to make it a stage for your passion, not a dumping ground. Make the room clean and warm enough. Ensure the lighting is kind, not too bright, (candles are a good idea) and lock the door when you don’t want any disturbance. Finally, add a music system with soothing sounds to set the mood and to prevent worries about being overheard by your children or workers in the house.
- Slow down your lovemaking. Intimacy needs time. Men often head straight for the genitals while women sometimes want to get things over as quickly as possible. So, as we dash down the highway of lovemaking, intimacy is left on the hard shoulder. Slow down your lovemaking to enjoy every moment of it. Lovemaking is not a race to be won or a contest of some kind. It is what you ultimately make each other feel – total fulfillment. Avoid the temptation to say anything about your dissatisfactions during lovemaking. However nicely put, such comments will be heard as criticisms. Instead, guide his or her hands to where you would like to be touched. Add a positive affirmation line, “I love you when you touch me here; or I love it when we do it slowly…” Another way of slowing down is to change positions. For example, the woman being on top allows her to decide the moment of penetration.
- Find new erogenous zones. Where are your erogenous zones? Many people can’t give you a definite answer. The answer is anywhere the skin is thin and the nerves are therefore nearer the surface. The middle of your back; the underside of your wrist; elbows; the nape of your neck; the outer part of your lips – this is why nibbling can be more passionate than plain kissing.
- Skip intercourse. Sexual intimacy is a whole-body experience and intercourse should be an optional extra. Once you can be close without full penetration you raise your stakes of intimacy. Although you might not be in the mood for penetration or penetrating, you are seldom too tired to cuddle or be stroked. And once you know that intimacy does not always lead to intercourse, you will feel free to be close to your partner even on those days when sex is not the first thing on your mind.
- Make initiation a shared responsibility. The person who always asks or sets the ball rolling for lovemaking risks feeling taken for granted or, worse, being rejected and feeling undesirable. If you seldom take charge, now is your opportunity. If it is normally your responsibility, hold back and give your partner space to initiate. People in a loving relationship feel free to initiate sex and don’t always wait for the man to do it, as some people have been culturally taught.
- Experiment. Try bringing something new into your relationship. It might be somewhere new to make love – on the couch, in the bathtub, on the kitchen floor – something different. You could also make love with clothes on just for the fun of it, or one with clothes on and the other naked. They don’t need to be big changes, just something to show each other that you have made intimacy a continuing priority.
- Accept your partner as they are. Understand that your partner considers their action to be signs of their feelings and probably that is the only way they know how to express themselves. Sometimes men and women seem to be speaking in different languages, hers more verbal and his more action-oriented. Look for the meaning in what your partner does and not always for words as they may not be there.
- Use positive reinforcement. You partner may not speak about their emotions as eloquently as you do. Respond positively to them when they share their feelings, no matter how awkward they express them. It is unfair to expect your partner to express himself or herself in the same way you do.
- Acknowledge your partner’s fears and also your own. Men and women can be afraid of losing respect for their partner or losing power in the relationship if they reveal their secret fears, desires or anxieties. Intimacy requires that you open yourself up to the other person. You should acknowledge there is risk inherent in doing so, but it should not matter when there is mutual love and deep commitment to the relationship.
- Recognise that change takes time. Your partner may want to share their feelings with you but will need time to learn new ways of behaving. Give them time to do so and don’t rush the process.
Published in April 2012