When I ask clients about the intimacy level in their relationships, they automatically assume I’m asking about their sex life. While sex is a component of intimacy, having GREAT sex is a byproduct of building intimacy outside of the bedroom.
Women need to feel a deep connection with their partner before they can let their guard down and really experience all of the pleasure that is possible in the bedroom. Before that conversation can take place, we must look at the level of emotional connection we have with our partner and address issues that are interfering with communication and trust.
As women, we often settle for less than we desire because we don’t have the skills or tools to address our unspoken needs. We leave it up to our mate to know what we want and what provides pleasure in our lives. As a result, we often end up with mediocre and less than satisfying levels of intimacy inside and outside the bedroom.
If your relationship is experiencing a slump, these five tips will help invigorate and revitalize your intimacy levels:
You have to focus on yourself before you can focus on the relationship. We must learn to love ourselves before we can truly love our mate. We have to know ourselves insight and out. That means we need to be able to identify our needs so we can articulate them to our mate. It is our responsibility to teach our mate how to love us and provide pleasure to us, both inside and outside of the bedroom. Using a journal to spot trends in behavior or patterns in communicating can help bring awareness to areas where inner-work is required to create the shift you desire in your relationship.
Action step: Make a list of your own emotional needs, this might include: being seen and heard, being understood, being nurtured and encouraged, being accepted physically and emotionally, being desired sexually, and receiving non-sexual physical touch.
Ask your mate to do the same and discuss similarities and differences. Create an action plan to close the gap.
Practice making requests for what you need without feeling guilty. Learn to say yes to yourself as part of your regular self-care routine. This might include asking for help with housework, carpooling or getting the kids ready for bed.
Between careers, running a household, and building a successful relationship, we often put ourselves at the bottom of our priority list. This means our needs usually go unnoticed and that leaves room for resentment to get a foothold. Men can’t read our minds, we have to be able to articulate what we need in a succinct way for them to act on it. Don’t assume he should just know.
Let go of feeling the need to justify your requests. Create an agreement with your spouse that all requests are legitimate and need to be treated as such. To serve each other at your highest level, you need to be at your very best, you will become better partners, lovers, and parents.
Action Step: Use your journal to identify where you feel like you’re unable to ask for help to get your needs met. What underlying belief do you have that is holding you back?
Ask your partner to make a list of his needs that aren’t being met in the relationship and develop a plan to be more mindful of each other’s needs. Open up the discussion for negotiations to find a win/win solution for both of you.
One of my favorite tools to use to help couples re-establish intimacy in their relationship is Dr. Gary Chapma’s book, “The Five Love Languages.” When it comes to expressing love and appreciation for our mate, we can fall short by merely using language that is meaningful to us, by default, speaking in our primary love language. If our mate doesn’t share the same primary language, our efforts can fall on deaf ears. Learning to communicate in words and actions that are meaningful is an essential step to building emotional intimacy. Having this knowledge empowers us to make changes that demonstrate our partner is our priority.
Action Step: Follow the link above to take the love language test. Review each of your primary and secondary love languages and discuss how you can better meet each other’s needs by speaking each other’s love language. Be as creative. Schedule a date night at least twice per month to work on increasing this skill.
Let go of the need to blame and shame your partner. When we fall short, we often have a gremlin (internal self-talk) who berates us for the lack of follow-through. We don’t need to spend time bashing our mate. Learn to accept 100% responsibility for your actions. Own up to it and find a plan to move on. Make amends where needed and identify ways not to repeat the offense. Use loving and kind words to practice self-compassion as well as compassion for your spouse.
Action Step: Ask your partner to agree to a new way of communicating in your relationship. No more list keeping or blame-casting. Moving forward, each partner will be responsible for their own words and actions. Make a list of ongoing grievances that keep coming up and sabotaging your relationship. Negotiate a win/win resolution for moving forward. Forgiving past hurts will help rebuild trust in the relationship.
Face the fears that hold you back from being authentic and vulnerable with your mate. Fear of being rejected or fear of losing our mate can cause us to hold our tongue when it comes to getting our needs met. In our quest to be known, we must first understand and love ourselves. If we are unsure of who we are and what our core values are we run the risk of losing ourselves by trying to become the person we think our partner wants us to be.
When we are not being true to ourselves, our mate can sense the inconsistency, and it can erode trust. Building emotional intimacy requires letting our guards down and setting aside judgments of ourselves and our spouse.
Action Step: Ask your partner for a commitment to allow your real selves to show up daily. Create a “safe zone” to talk about the innermost fears that keep you stuck and prevent you from being as open you would like to be in your relationship. Establish guidelines for creating space for an honest, open dialog to deepen your intimacy levels.
Building a stable relationship that will last a lifetime takes intentional effort. The concept is simple, but the work required is never easy. There is no one-size-fits-all cookie-cutter recipe for every couple. It takes some experimentation and a journey of personal discovery to identify the path for your particular situation.
If you are committed to creating a relationship that allows energy that supports passion, intimacy, love, trust, loyalty, and forgiveness, you have to dare to face your biggest fears and be vulnerable. Bringing your concerns into the light will diminish the power that anger, distrust, and disillusionment have over you. Practice daily gratitude for your partner and keep a positive attitude as you build a wildly happy life together!