A recent survey on marital satisfaction found that out of 101 adults who had been together as little as a year and as long as 42 years, intimacy rated higher than passion. Sure, passion is important and reigns supreme on the list of ingredients for a happy relationship, but it’s no more important than intimacy.
Intimacy is defined as close familiarity or friendship. In a relationship, intimacy is that feeling when your partner really knows you and loves you for who you are. When you’ve allowed yourself to be honest and vulnerable, sharing the good and not so good parts of yourself.
Steps to Increase Intimacy
- Continue to get to know your partner. Remember the early days of your relationship when you couldn’t learn enough about your partner. Eventually, the new relationship luster wears off and you slowly lose that inquisitiveness. It’s not easy for everyone to open up and be vulnerable, but look for opportunities to get to know your partner and have intimate conversations.
- Create a safe space to be open. Comfort levels with sharing and showing vulnerability vary from partner to partner, couple to couple but they will increase with practice and within an emotionally safe space. Here’s an easy way to get started: just practice listening with a non-judgmental ear.
- Make time for intimate conversations. These are the times when couples report feeling closest. Ask your partner how their day was. When your partner is sharing their thoughts, make sure you’re listening so you can connect. In a recent couples counseling session a woman told me it meant the world to her when her husband took the time to ask about her day. “I wasn’t looking for him to help me figure out what to do about the situation with my friend, but when he hugged me and told me ‘that sounds really difficult, you must be worried,’ I remembered why he’s my person.”
- Talk about your feelings. When we talk about how we feel vs. what happened, we invite our partners into our hearts, it allows us to show vulnerability and it gives your partner a peek behind the curtain to learn more about our reactions to things and what may trigger them.
Any kind of relationship takes work but to be in one will require you to share your true self: the good, the bad and the ugly. That, my friends, is intimacy.