Are you interested in having better sex, better communication and a more satisfying relationship?
Then keep reading!
It is easy to have romance and passion when we first get together, we do all of those things that make us feel connected and special, we talk, we touch, we do things together and the sex is great.
Yet when I talk to couples who have been in long term relationships the initial passion and romance diminished over time. In fact some of the things that originally attracted them to each other had become annoying. They had discovered that their partner was a real person, with strengths and talents but also with challenges and issues. The Hollywood movies of love stories or the Cinderella fairy tales, of happily ever after, hadn’t prepared them for the real story of love, romance and relationship.
So let’s be clear here, great relationships do take time and effort! If you ignore your partner or take them for granted your relationship will begin to diminish in a variety of ways. Maybe sex becomes less frequent or communication breaks down or your relationship becomes boring, stale or unsatisfying. Even if you are still having sex frequently, sex alone cannot create satisfying, healthy relationships without the emotional intimacy.
The healthiest most fulfilling and satisfying relationships thrive on emotional intimacy. It takes both partners who are willing to be there for each other, to grow, to strive to improve themselves and to learn how to be vulnerable and open with their partner. It can be called intimacy or as I say to my clients “into-me see”!
So how do you create emotional intimacy? It does require emotional growth and a willingness to continue to learn and apply what you are learning.
Below are several ways you can start to create more emotional intimacy with your partner.
1. Do your own work and get to know yourself!
“If you try to find intimacy with another person before achieving a sense of identity on your own, all your relationships become an attempt to complete yourself.” Dr. Parrott
My understanding of what Dr. Parrott is saying is that we must come to a place where we are comfortable and confident in who we really are or at the very least in who we are striving to become. When we know our self we are more inclined to form relationships that aren’t so self-seeking and create deeper relationships which are more balanced and mutually beneficial.
So, before we can be better with our partner, we must improve our relationship with ourselves. Knowing how we are means that we can come from a clearer place in how we interact and communicate with our spouse.
The most important relationship is the kind of relationship that we have with ourselves because that determines how we treat others. It is very important that we are learning how to be our best self and then we can learn to be a healthy partner. When we have a sense of our own intrinsic value, separate from what someone else might be reflecting back to us. Getting to know who we really are and learning to love ourselves creates a solid foundation of self that we can bring to our relationship.
Just recently I released a book titled “Knowing Me Knowing You” to assist people with that because it is so important to do our own internal work first and then be willing to share with our partner who we really are.
2. Be in integrity with your words.
If you agree to do something, then do it. If you know you can’t do it, then say “No.” This builds trust in the relationship and your partner will trust your word if they know you follow through and do what you say you will do. Only agree to do what you are willing to do and by following through and actually doing it you are in integrity with your words.
3. Respect for each other.
It is very important that each of you feel respected in the relationship. If you demand or try to make them change their mind on something this can be viewed as disrespectful. Treat your partner as you want to be treated. When you value and respect your partners; opinions, ideas, perceptions and suggestions they feel it and are more open to value and respect yours. It is important to note here that you do not have to agree on things, you can still respect that they have a different way of looking at something or a differing opinion. It is okay to agree to disagree on something.
4. Create a safe space and place
The put downs, name calling, verbal abuse or physical abuse needs to stop and you need to create a safe space and place to be real with each other. Being supportive, listening and working as a team to solve the issues you face enhances the relationship. Apologize and acknowledge when you are wrong. The more you and your partner feel safe to be real and treat each other well the more stable and satisfying the relationship will be.
5. Learn to be Vulnerable
So how many times have you been asked what are you feeling and your response is “I don’t know”? Maybe you don’t know at that moment and instead of ignoring the question, you may find curiosity about your feelings and asking yourself proactive questions like: What is going on inside of me right now? What has been going on in my life that is causing the behaviour I am doing? What is it that I am feeling and why?
How many times have you started out blaming or pointing out what your partner is doing wrong instead of slowing down and getting clear about what you are feeling and thinking and what you want to accomplish by having this conversation.
So many of us have learned to react and get angry first which allows us to ignore our deeper feelings or avoid what really is going on with us by creating a distraction or fight. This only perpetuates the issues and does not bring resolution.
It may feel risky to be vulnerable or you may be afraid of rejection, judgement, shame or other feelings which could cause discomfort. This is very normal to feel these things when you are first learning to be vulnerable. You are just learning to share and expose the inner you and your feelings. Being vulnerable in the beginning is challenging. Know that feeling that way is normal and be aware that your partner may be feeling that way too. Have empathy for each other as you learn to be vulnerable together, take care to be kind, loving and patient with each other. Build that sense of trust and safety within the relationship, so you know it is okay to share your most vulnerable feelings with each other. Talk about your wants, needs and desires! Converse about your dreams and hopes. Share your deepest feelings and your fears! Be there for each other!
Know that as you do this your vulnerability deepens your emotional intimacy and bond.
6. Put your relationship first and be a team player!
Just as it is important to respect our individuality in a relationship, it is also really important to know we have committed to being part of a team that requires teamwork. Like any other team, we may need to figure out the best way to work together in the relationship. It is natural to want to be part of something greater than ourselves and when two people in love make that commitment to be together they are also committing to make something much larger than a “me” or “I”, they become an “us“ and a “we“. In a relationship team the couple puts the relationship above their own individual desires and focuses on the “we” instead of the “me”.
Couples who are a team know how to get through the rough patches and still have a fulfilling relationship, often because they know how to compromise and have respectfully communicate. Each partner is given the benefit of the doubt. An “I need to be right” attitude is competitive not cooperative and the death knell to compromise. If one partner is always giving in to the other it can build resentment over time. Compromise allows both people to be able to get some things that they want, while sacrificing what they want for the person they love at other times.
Studies have shown that couples who do this well have more satisfying and long lasting relationships.
Focusing on getting your own needs met sets you up to be disappointed with your spouse. If your goal is to have a happy spouse, then you should focus on making sure your spouse’s needs are met. When your spouse’s emotional needs are met, they are more open and interested in meeting your needs. Now you have a positive feedback cycle instead of a deprivation cycle.
7. Focusing on your Partners needs is ultimately also best for you!
If you are only focusing on your own needs, this sets up a cycle of disappointment and resentment in the relationship. If you each focus on your partners needs then both your needs get met and you develop even more intimacy and both people benefit from the relationship! You feel good about your partner and they feel good about you because they feel valued and accepted.
8. Being Authentic.
In a relationship being authentic and having the courage to show up and be real, the courage to contribute, the courage to share, the courage to communicate even when it is difficult to do so is the glue that hold the team together. Building emotional intimacy in the relationship, creates connection, acceptance, and leads to having better sex, better communication and a much more satisfying and successful relationship!
Wishing you an emotionally intimate and thriving relationship!
Sincerely Couples Therapy, Relationship and Marriage Counselling Victoria BC, Nadine Hanchar
Author of “Knowing Me, Knowing You – The PEP Personality Process”
Nadine Hanchar helps individuals and businesses build better relationships, discover new choices, new perspectives, and create success. Nadine is a counsellor, consultant, speaker, and trainer with over 35 years’ experience helping others professionally. She is a bestselling author and specializes in working with trauma, abuse, relationship issues, and communication. Learn more at ProgressivePlus.com and connect with Nadine on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.
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