A variety of factors contribute to a successful marriage, and intimacy is one of them. Although intimacy in marriage is often associated with sex, it also encompasses the emotional and spiritual bond between two people. The many demands of life can interfere with the development of these connections, leading to discord in a relationship and other unsavory side effects. If you feel the spark has gone out of your marriage or you want to feel closer to your partner, here are fifteen tips for increasing emotional, physical, and spiritual intimacy in marriage. These are great pieces of advice for newlyweds and long marriages alike!
What Went Wrong and Whose Fault is It?
The short answer is: probably no one’s fault. It might feel like assigning blame makes it easier, but in reality, there is often not a single event or concern that created this situation.
So how did you get here? Sex used to be fun and something that you both looked forward to.
Again, a short answer: Life.
Here is a list of some of the reasons that people start having less sex:
- Children – The sex you had led to the biggest impediment to sex you have, kids. They take a lot of time and energy.
- Work – Many of us, women and men, get our minds into our work and we don’t leave it. That doesn’t leave much room for loving.
- Money – A lack of money is one of the biggest turn-offs in the world. If you’re stressed about paying the bills, having sex can seem like a waste of time.
- Hidden worries – If one or both of you has been burying your needs and concerns, it’s going to interfere with your sex life.
- Habit – If you’ve gotten out of the habit of having sex, then you’re likely to stay out of the habit. It can be difficult to change that situation.
- Anger – When you first got together, make-up sex was great. Now, it’s just another make-up sex session after another fight.
- Health – If one of you is not well, either due to a serious illness or even something as simple as allergies, there might not be a lot of desire.
- Weight – Especially for women, gaining weight can be the biggest turn-off. If you look at yourself and don’t find yourself at all attractive, you’re a lot less likely to want to take off your clothes.
There are a billion personal reasons as well, but these are some of the biggest reasons that your sex life stopped.
Now let’s look at ways that you can get it restarted.
15 Ways to Increase Intimacy in Marriage
1. Make Time to Talk
While dating, you and your spouse probably spent hours talking to each other. That level of communication is often the first casualty of marriage, especially after the arrival of children. Set aside time to talk to each other about you and your relationship, this is a great exercise for couples trying to improve communication. There will always be time to talk about the kids and the strange knocking sound in the car. Spend at least an hour each week discussing shared hobbies, thoughts about life, and other topics of interest.
2. Pencil In Sex
Lack of time is the primary reason given for decreases in sexual intimacy. Sex is an important part of marriage, and a lack of it can have a negative effect on the bond between spouses. A good way around the time factor is to schedule time for sex. While this may not be as romantic as spontaneously bedding your partner in a fit of passion, putting sex on the schedule can ensure you two spend some quality intimate time with each other.
3. Talk about Your Fantasies
Being intimate with another person means allowing yourself to be vulnerable, and many people feel vulnerable when discussing their fantasies because of the fear of rejection. Sharing fantasies, however, can increase emotional intimacy in marriage. The fantasies you share don’t necessarily have to be sexual. They can also be fanciful, whimsical, or even goals you once had that you know can’t be achieved.
4. Write Love Letters
Writing your partner a love letter is an excellent way to immortalize your feelings for the person. Take a few moments to write a letter detailing something about the person you love. To make it even more special, use pen and paper. There’s something about ink and paper that makes words even more meaningful.
5. Take Dancing Lessons Together
One way to increase physical intimacy in marriage is to take dancing lessons together. Dancing is incredibly intimate, particularly dances that require you to be physically close to your partner. Dancing can help you see your partner’s body movements in a different way as well as give you another activity to enjoy on date night.
6. Pray Together
Praying together can be an extremely intimate act because you are letting your spouse get a close look at your relationship with the deity you worship and vice versa. This can be very beneficial for couples who don’t share the same religious beliefs. If you feel comfortable doing so, discuss what you prayed about.
7. Do Partner Yoga
Yoga hits two areas of intimacy: physical and spiritual. Similar to dancing, partner yoga requires you to move in harmony with each other. However, you do the exercises while being mindful of your connection to each other and the world at large. It’s a great way to reduce stress and bond spiritually with your spouse. Some of the best marriage counseling retreats offer outdoor couple’s activities like yoga and a chance to improve intimacy free from the fetters of everyday life.
8. Read to the Kids
Reading a book to the children together can stoke emotional intimacy. Working together to create a beautiful memory for your kids can improve the emotional bond between the entire family.
9. Talk about the Past
Ask your spouse about his or her childhood. Whether your spouse shares good or bad memories of being a kid, it’s important to actively listen and offer love or laughter wherever appropriate. What happens to people in their formative years influences what they’re like as adults. Learning about your partner’s childhood can increase your understanding of certain habits and beliefs. This is a great exercise that couples don’t often delve into unless they seek marriage counseling, but most couples should take the time to understand their spouse’s past and how it made them who they are today.
10. Write Erotica
One way of renewing intimacy in a relationship is to write erotic stories for each other. You can write full stories, or you can use technology to make things more interesting. For example, you can send the story to your partner line by line via text messaging. Another idea is to send a section of the story each day by email and conclude the tale on date night.
11. Share a Secret
Sharing secrets is another great way of building intimacy in marriage. Sharing a secret opens you up to rejection, but being willing to display that level of vulnerability can enhance your bond with your partner—especially if your spouse accepts what you say without judgment. Be certain to return the favor.
12. Touch Each Other
Touch each other whenever the two of you are in close proximity. You could hold hands or kiss or simply stroke your partner’s hair. It’s a great but simple way to develop feelings of closeness in the relationship.
13. Renew Your Vows
If you would marry your spouse all over again, then do so. Renewing your vows is a surefire way to dial up the romance and emotional closeness in your relationship. When you renew your commitment, you’re telling your spouse you still accept him or her as a partner, warts and all.
14. Study Spiritual Material Together
To feel closer to your spouse spiritually, study spiritual or religious materials together. While you each have your own individual paths, studying the tenets of your religion can spark a deeper conversation and greater understanding of each other’s spiritual journeys.
15. Be Honest
Although it can be embarrassing, talk to your spouse about any physical problems that may be contributing to a lack of intimacy. This is especially important for older couples who may be dealing with age-related conditions that affect sexual function. Even if you’re not able to overcome the issue and have been consigned to a sexless relationship, you can still explore other ways to increase intimacy in marriage.
In the beginning, we talked about some of the reasons that the sex stopped. Look at those reasons through the lens of ways that you can change things. If you can eliminate some of those obstacles, you can start on the path to refiring our love life.
Want more tips? We recommend Mort Fertel’s 7 Secrets for Fixing Your Marriage.