After years spent together, raising your family, and putting your career, family, and other demands of a busy life before your relationship, it may be time to start to put your relationship first. It’s time to think about ways to increase emotional intimacy with your partner.
The love you have for each other is still there, but it feels like it’s put on the back burner, and you want to spend more quality time together but don’t know how.
Firstly, I want to say this is normal, and if you are reading this, you want to do something about it; kudos to you! You know it’s time to stop letting life come before your relationship and allowing it to be second place.
First, get your partner on board
As they say, it takes two to tango. Is your partner ready to put their energy into rejuvenating your relationship? If you have decided that it is time to make this change and the idea is not reciprocated, it can be exhausting and demoralizing for the effort to be one-sided.
Communication is key
As with any relationship, communication is vital to set you up for success. Prioritize some uninterrupted time with your partner. Make a date of it, go out to your favorite restaurant, or take a picnic to the park, put away your phones, commit to this time together and talk through your ideas around breathing new life into your relationship and increasing emotional intimacy. Explain the importance of you both putting your energy into this and how much more fulfilling it will make your lives.
Your physical intimacy will get a boost
What is a bonus to creating more emotional connection? Your sexual intimacy will improve too! Perhaps you have lost that connection with the busyness of life taking over, but consciously spending more quality time together improving your emotional intimacy will do wonders for every aspect of your relationship. What could be better?
Ideas to increase emotional intimacy with your partner
1. Learn about your partner’s world
Be interested in your partner’s day, life, and loves. Do you know who your partner’s favorite podcaster is right now, what book they are reading, and who they consider to be their best friend?
Sometimes we are so caught up in our own busy life we forget to ask our partners how their day went, and we become disconnected from them on a whole new level. It’s easy not to keep track of what is going on in your partner’s life day to day, but if you do, it will bring your emotional intimacy to a whole new level.
For example, your partner shares with you that they have an important presentation that they are preparing for at work. You have made the effort to remember when it is and can wish them luck the morning of and when they get home, check in with them on how it went. They will feel cared for and know you think about them when they are not with you.
2. Be a great listener
You don’t have to solve your partner’s problems. When they share something that is bothering them, your instinct is to try to fix it – because you care. You don’t want to see them in pain. But invariably, your partner just wants to be heard. Listen deeply, don’t let your mind wander; listen to what your partner is saying and keep focused on their words and the meaning behind the words. To delve deeper into how to listen deeply, you might be interested in how to have a daily stress-reducing conversation.
3. Share what you appreciate about your partner
In my Gottman Seven principles for making marriage work workshops, we discuss the importance of building fondness and admiration for your partner. Part of this is showing appreciation for your partner in small ways and will increase emotional intimacy.
This might feel awkward at first but voicing what you appreciate is a building block to greater emotional intimacy in your relationship. Thank your partner for doing the dishes, thank them for being a great mom or dad or for any other positive attribute they have. Add onto this by giving them an example of when they showed the positive quality. For example, “I really appreciated you picking me up from book club the other night; it meant I could relax and have a glass of wine with my friends without worrying about driving home.”
Try to make this part of your daily interactions.
4. Reminisce on the good times
Talk about some great times and memories you have had together. When life becomes heavy, we forget those good times, which can even become tainted by negative feelings. By bringing them up and reminiscing together, you can bring back the positive emotions around the events which might have become buried over the years or even forgotten.
5. Don’t sweat the small stuff
I’ll be honest with you; my husband leaves his socks lying around, the toilet seat up, and toothpaste and whiskers all over his sink. He also listens deeply whenever I need him to, does our washing, and clears up after dinner every night. The small irritating things he does are outweighed by the positive. But the annoying things could get blown out of proportion if I let them in the moment, and sometimes I do because I am human.
But ultimately, it’s my choice whether I let them or not, and I try to remember no one is perfect. I choose not to sweat the small stuff and pick up the socks, knock the toilet seat down and give the sink a quick wipe; all take a second of my time, and then I move on without another thought.
If you choose to dwell on the negative, you feel angry, which will diminish your emotional intimacy faster than you can build it.
6. Find common ground to have fun
Bring having fun back into your relationship. What brings you joy as a couple? What do you like to do together? What does your partner enjoy doing with you that perhaps you haven’t got the same passion for, but you can find common ground to enjoy the activity together because it makes them happy?
An example of finding common ground might be that you like to do long strenuous hikes with a high elevation gain, but your partner prefers to meander along flat terrain. Perhaps a middle ground is a slightly longer hike, somewhere new to you that you can explore together, with no elevation gain. You could also add a break in the middle for a picnic for an extra special touch; if you both enjoy that.
Remember that taking time to do everyday things together like preparing dinner, makes all the difference too and will also help to increase emotional intimacy.
7. Turn towards your partner’s attempts at connection
Choosing to take notice of your partner when they put out a bid for affection by turning towards them helps them feel nurtured and heard. Turning towards in small ways builds a deep connection over time and puts many credits into your emotional bank account, so when you make a mistake or do something hurtful, your account can stand to lose a little. Did you know it takes twenty positive interactions to one negative to keep a relationship on a positive note?
When we are not conscious of our partner, it can take a lot of effort to respond to their attempts for emotional reconnection. Everyone gets busy, and life can move too quickly to pay attention to minor details. This is when many people brush off, ignore, or not notice their partners attempts for emotional connection. When this happens, the spouse attempting to connect can feel hurt and rejected. If this happens enough times, they could stop trying to connect, so it’s essential to respond to these attempts when you are consciously reconnecting to your partner emotionally.
Take the time to increase emotional intimacy with your partner
If you are trying to improve your emotional connection with your partner, try out some of the tips above. Your relationship is worth the time and effort to connect deeply with your partner. When you start to intentionally improve your connection with them, you will feel much more satisfied with your time together.
Remember, if you do not feel emotionally connected with your partner, there is no need to panic. Every marriage goes through seasons of disconnection due to busy schedules, stress, or any emotional hardship.
Feeling disconnected does not mean something is wrong with your relationship. Still, if you are conscious of the disconnect and try some of the tips above, you two will feel connected again, and your connection will be much more fulfilling.
Need some help reconnecting? Check out if couples coaching with me is a good fit.