10 Ways to Build a More Intimate Relationship With Your Partner
Create Intimacy in Your Relationship and Grow Closer
Many people today use the words intimacy and sex as if they're interchangeable, but they've never been more different. In this world of hook-ups, friends with benefits, and virtual dating, everything now is inside-out, topsy-turvy, and completely cockeyed. College students have sex, fueled by alcohol and drugs, with partners they've just met. For them it's all about physical pleasure, not intimacy. Middle-aged singles, lonely and socially awkward, have intensely intimate relationships with people on-line. For them, it's all about the human connection even though they never plan to meet, let alone have sex.
But, with all these changes, one thing remains constant: the primal need to bond. In our society, where a person boosts 600 friends on Facebook but sits home alone on a Saturday night, we need help more than ever before to create intimacy in our romantic relationships. Creating intimacy isn't a “chick thing” that involves a lot of talking about feelings, leaving men to cringe. It often erotic, involving lots of sensual touch. Here are 10 ways to build that closeness:
Touch Each Other's Bodies Throughout the Day, Not Just as a Prelude to Sex
1. Read the Same Book and Discuss It.
When my husband and I were dating, we read John Gray's bestseller, Men Are from Mars, Women Are From Venus. It was a part of pop culture at the time (early 1990s) and was a good vehicle for us two introverts to get into some weighty topics about gender differences. While I wouldn't recommend the book today because of its stereotypical and outdated portrait of men and women, reading it was a terrific way for us to get to know one another. But you don't need to read a book about relationships. A book of poetry or a classic work of fiction can serve the purpose – to get you thinking and talking about issues that matter to you.
2. Look at One Another's Family Photographs and Scrapbooks.
I once sat with a boyfriend for two hours as he showed me an old family photo album and reminisced about his childhood. Almost the entire time (minus the first 10 minutes), I wanted to blow out my brains from boredom. That experience taught me one thing; he was not the guy for me! If you really like someone, looking at their family photos is a joyous experience and you can't get enough. You laugh, ask questions, and prod for more details. It just feels so right – like you're really connecting in a meaningful way. I still love to look at my husband's childhood albums even after 20 years of marriage. I'm still finding out more about him and what makes him tick.
3. Cook a Meal Together.
When you cook together, you're typically in a narrow space so it becomes a sort of sensual dance – moving around the island, reaching for the pots and pans, brushing against one another. To create a romantic atmosphere, dim the lights, use some candles, and put on some soft music. Foods – their tastes, touch, and smells – trigger all kinds of memories that elicit thought-provoking conversation.
Unwinding in the Bathtub Is a Fun Way to Enhance Intimacy
4. Take a Bath or Shower Together.
There's nothing as relaxing as water. Taking a bath or shower together, especially after a long, hard day, is a good way to wash away your stresses and decompress. It's a way to enjoy your sexuality – touching and exploring each other's bodies. Shampooing one another's hair, scrubbing each other's backs, and soaping each other up is erotic and fun. You want a partner who's willing to share sexy experiences with you other than intercourse. There's a lot more ways to pleasure one another than that!
5. Take a Road Trip.
Movies such as Easy Rider, Rain Man, and Thelma and Louise show us how road trips bring adventure, test our compatibility, and create closeness. An open highway and miles to travel provide the perfect opportunity to open up about our lives and show our true selves. Leaving our familiar surroundings to see new people and places lets us share fresh experiences together. When my husband and I were dating, we took a road trip from our home in California to see Mount Rushmore in South Dakota. We gambled in Nevada, saw Old Faithful in Yellowstone, and toured the Black Hills. We created memories that belonged only to us and tied us together forever.
Making Your Bed Into a Sanctuary Is a Beautiful Way to Bring You Closer
6. Stay in Bed Together All Day.
When my husband and I were newlyweds (before kids), we started spending Saturdays in bed together – talking, cuddling, and reading the newspaper. We allowed no distractions – no television, no phone calls, no discussion of work. Our bed became our sanctuary from the hectic world. This was the restful time we needed to see the big picture of our lives and plan our future and family together. Otherwise, life would have just happened without intent.
7. Take Turns Being One Another's “Slave for the Day.”
My husband and I started this game when we were dating and still play it today when the kids are at their grandparents. It proved an effective way to get to know one another – our likes and dislikes, what turns us on, and how we like to spend our time. When my husband was my slave, I'd have him do the things that meant a lot to me: taking a walk together with our dog, going to the Farmer's Market, rubbing my feet, and making reservations at a trendy restaurant. When I was his slave, he'd like me to cut his hair, watch football, make him his favorite recipes, and play strip poker.
When we'd play Slave for the Day, we'd let it cross over into our sex lives. It was a fun and non-threatening way to let our partner know what gave us pleasure – what positions we liked, what fantasies we had, what music we enjoyed, what clothing turned us on, whether we liked lights on or off, and whether we preferred talking or no talking. It's often difficult for couples to talk about these things, but this game makes it easy.
8. Give Each Other Massages.
Having a massage was a common Slave for the Day request made by both my husband and me. Who doesn't love a good massage and who doesn't appreciate the one giving it? When we were dating, my husband and I even took a series of classes at the community center on how to give one. It was a very intimate experience and connected us in profound ways. We learned about one another's bodies, how to get our partner to release tension, and how to use massage oils to heighten the sensation.
Flirting seems to come naturally to us when we're attracting a partner but tapers off over time. But it's one of the most powerful ways to create intimacy and strengthen a relationship. Plus, there's more ways to do it than ever before – e-mails, texts, phone calls, social media, and notes.
Many of us hesitate to flirt because we're introverted and feel as if we're playing a role that we're not suited to play. I certainly put myself in that category. But it helps to think how your partner feels and not yourself. Who doesn't like to hear they look sexy, are wearing something attractive, or are intelligent, witty, and terrific company?
10. Practice “Active Listening.”
At one time or another, most of us have learned about active listening – the technique of reflecting back what's been said by a speaker to show we've been listening and understanding. While it often feels stilted and cumbersome, active listening really works to bring a couple closer together. The more you do it, the easier it becomes – more natural and intuitive. You start to listen with your whole body – your facial expressions, posture, and gestures, not just your ears. You realize how often you don't really understand what your partner is saying – that you need to ask questions and get clarity. Your conversation becomes more dynamic as you become an active participant with give and take.
Refreshing to Read a Book on Intimacy and Marriage Written by a Man
If your spouse matters to you like mine does to me, you'll want to read this book. It's a wonderful resource for keeping your marriage vital. It's so refreshing to read something on relationships and intimacy written by a man. I love the practical ideas and inspiration for keeping a marriage full of A-W-E: affection, warmth, and encouragement. I highly recommend this book for couples who are struggling as well as those who are thriving.
© 2016 Nancy Mitchell