Growing Your Relationship – Building Connection
As we begin a new year, we tend to reflect on the past and set new goals for ourselves. Perhaps focusing on building connection with your partner is one of the best things you can do for your relationship this year. Think about it: At the beginning of a relationship, we put a great deal of effort into it – going on dates and talking for hours. Then somewhere along the way, we stop doing those things and begin to run on “autopilot.” Relationships thrive when we put effort into them. That’s why in this blog, we’re sharing a few ideas for building intimacy in your relationship.
Sex Therapist Leah Simmons says “My advice to keep connection and maintain intimacy is to make time daily to have communication with eye contact and no electronic distraction. No phones, TVs, or tablets. That’s a great place to start.”
Problems tend to arise and grow when partners stop communicating with one another. Dedicate 15-30 minutes every day for you and your spouse to communicate with one another. Use this time to discuss what each of you needs from the other and how each of you are feeling. You can ask things like:
- What are some things you need from me this week?
- How can I make you feel more loved this week?
- Is there anything from this week that we need to talk about?
- How are you feeling today?
Life can be hectic, and sometimes we forget to make time for our partner. Set a goal to have a date with your partner weekly – go out for dinner, take a walk at sunset, go dancing – whatever you and your partner enjoy… The important thing is to put away your phones and get away from the house. Getting away from work, children, and household chores gives you the freedom to focus on one another.
Make Intimacy A Priority
Intimacy is often thought of in the physical sense, and while physical intimacy is important – we don’t want to forget the intellectual and emotional sides of it! In this section, we’ll take a look at all three.
Intellectual and emotional intimacy are very similar, so we’ll discuss those first. Both of these involve partners connecting through verbal discussions. Intellectual intimacy occurs when you take time to discuss various topics or issues with your partner. These topics can be as lighthearted as your favorite movie to as serious as your political views. Spending time in conversation, no matter how small the topic may seem, is crucial because it gives partners the opportunity to understand each other better and learn more about one another. Emotional intimacy takes place when partners feel safe in the relationship and are able to “let their guard down” and share feelings or emotions they are experiencing. When partners are able to open up and share how they are feeling, needs are better able to be met and the bond between one another is strengthened.
Now, let’s talk about physical intimacy. Physical intimacy does include sex, but that’s not all! Nonsexual physical intimacy like holding hands, cuddling, giving massages, kissing, and hugging are all important. Establish a routine of touching one another often – kiss one another before leaving for work and when you arrive home, head to bed a few minutes early and cuddle before going to sleep, etc. Make time for sex regularly (Psychology Today recommends being sexual at least twice a month) – this may mean that you need to schedule time for intimacy or you may need to book a night at a hotel occasionally to allow yourselves the opportunity to be free of distractions and focus on one another. Prioritizing physical intimacy will strengthen your marriage and protect it from the stresses of life.
Try Something New – Together
When was the last time you and your partner tried something new together? Think about something you have been wanting to learn or try, then make time to do it together. Taking a dance class, trying a new recipe, traveling to a new place, or experiencing a new restaurant are all great ways to break routine and do something adventurous together.
These are just a few ways to build connection in your relationship this year! If you feel like your relationship needs help building connection, Leah Simmons, MS, LPC, Registered Play Therapist, would be honored to assist you through couples counseling. You can contact Leah at email@example.com to schedule a session.
- 9 Tips for a Hot and Healthy Marriage – Lisa Thomas, LMFT: Psychology Today