30-Day Challenge to Enrich Intimacy in Your Relationship

man playfully kissing the back of a womans neckA colleague of mine encourages people to consider the first day of every month a “New Year’s Day” of sorts: Instead of one New Year’s resolution, why not mindfully attempt change every month? Imagine what you can do for yourself in only a year.

A classic self-help tip professes that a new habit can be formed—or an old habit banished—with about 30 days of practice. Having challenged myself to new habits 30 days at a time in 2013, I’m challenging you to begin your own changes today.

Accept this invitation to tackle a 30-day challenge to enrich intimacy in your relationship. Start now—don’t wait until the first of the month. Consider which habit(s) would benefit you and your relationship to enrich or enhance intimacy. I’ve drawn up a possible list, pulled from research as well as my professional and personal experience, to help inspire ideas:

  1. Within 30 days, read a book to improve your relationship—people who seek relationship counseling with me are encouraged to read Hold Me Tight by Dr. Sue Johnson. Another favorite is The Truth About Love by Dr. Pat Love.
  2. Commit to kissing hello and goodbye. In a fast-paced culture, romantic partners are often like “two ships passing in the night.” We miss simple, everyday opportunities to slow down and reconnect with loved ones. For the next 30 days, make a new rule in your relationship: kiss hello and goodbye—no exceptions! (Already doing this? OK, try this one. Make each kiss last at least five seconds; trust me, it’ll feel longer and more intimate than you assume. Imagine your lips on your loved one’s lips, cheek, or neck for the count of one … two … three … four … five. Now THAT’s a kiss.)
  3. Add the “hug to relax” or “five-minute hug” to your day, every day, for 30 days. Set a time, and in a standing hug enjoy the waves of experiences you have in your partner’s arms. Notice what each of your five senses is sensing. Notice the smell of your partner’s neck, shirt, hair, etc. What do you hear in the hug? A heartbeat, breathing, or sounds of the environment? Notice the touch of your bodies: Where do you touch? Where do you not touch? Notice the sensation of standing on your feet for a period of time in one place.
  4. Reduce your complaints and increase praise of your partner for the next 30 days. As with good parenting, we need to balance negative feedback and interaction (“Go do your homework!”) with positive feedback and interaction (“Thanks for getting to your chores!”) in our intimate relationships. I often explain to people that we are born to particular caregivers, but when we mature into adults and commit to a relationship, we choose and become “chosen caregivers.” It’s essential that we remember that our spouses are sometimes just “tall kiddos” who need and desire more praise than complaints.
  5. Last but not least, consider sexual, engaged activity every day for 30 days. Now, this doesn’t have to mean intercourse, orgasm, or even nakedness, for that matter. There is an array of activities we can indulge in to ignite and nourish our sexual selves. Body rubs, hand massaging, bathing together, undressing your partner, spooning, masturbating solo or beside each other—these are just a few ideas for a 30-day challenge.

Bonus idea straight from a sex therapist’s office: One of my clients’ favorite ideas for being sexual that doesn’t require much of anything is a “walk down memory lane.” Reminisce together about the hottest sex you’ve had together, fire up your memory by indulging in a description of what your senses experienced, maybe even come up with a title for this memory as if it were its own sexy movie. Perhaps take the memory a little further by embellishing, elaborating, or peppering some components of fantasy by sprinkling in spicy details you would add if you could go back in time.

This isn’t necessarily a go-big-or-go-home challenge, mind you. Take on something you can be successful doing. The goal is to form a new habit, enrich intimacy, and add pleasure to your relationship.

Enjoy!

© Copyright 2013 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Denise Onofrey, MA, LMFTC, therapist in Englewood, Colorado

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Mel

    October 22nd, 2013 at 10:40 AM

    I find that the longer I am married the more I love my wife every day. We have had our ups and downs just like any other marriage but I think that the one thing that has kept the love alive is that we never stop caring about what the other is going through in his or her daily life, plain and simple. I am still interested in her day to day and she is in mine and sometimes I do think that it is those little things like that that has helped keep it all together. Sure it can be mundane, but its those little connections that keep us grounded and connected in a way that we don’t have with anyone else in our life.

  • Gina

    October 23rd, 2013 at 3:55 AM

    You don’t think that a month could make a huge change in your relationship, but I think that you would be surprised at just how many changes you can make in even just a week or just a few days!
    Just looking at your partner in a new way, giving them a little more time than you may have in the past, all of these small little things are going to make a huge and possibly compelling change in the way that you and your partner are able to communicate with one another.
    So imagine the positive changes that you CAN make in a 30 day challenge. . . it could be life changing

  • Ranjan Patel

    Ranjan Patel

    October 25th, 2013 at 5:54 PM

    Thank-you for a beautiful article: well-written, down to earth, and engaging :-)!

  • Mrs EJG

    October 25th, 2013 at 7:16 PM

    I found out this year my husband was cheating on me with multiple women while I was pregnant with our first child – I’ve been seeing a therapist and have found a place in my heart to not only forgive my husband but to also forgive the other women…it took months but ultimately he is the man that I love and have shared in bringing our son into this world. There is nothing more now that we both want to do then make us stronger in love going forward. I’m exited to try this new challenge as I feel it will help me move on from the bad and onto the good and exciting reasons why marriages are so awesome.

  • Clinton

    October 25th, 2013 at 8:45 PM

    Great article Denise! I totally subscribe to the idea that you can change your relationship in 30 days. The secret is keeping yourself accountable and being consistent. In fact, I wrote an ebook that shows couples how to build a better relationship in 31 days.

  • Lore' W

    October 27th, 2013 at 4:42 AM

    Pleasantly surprised to discover we already do these things. Now looking for more ways to increase quality time in our already very busy schedule.

  • Denise Onofrey

    Denise Onofrey

    November 4th, 2013 at 11:43 AM

    Mel – Thank you for your contribution. I love the simplicity of your approach – Be interested on a daily basis. Interest begets interest.

    Congratulations on the love you have and may it grow and grow!

    Thank you!
    Denise

  • Denise Onofrey

    Denise Onofrey

    November 4th, 2013 at 11:45 AM

    Mel – Thank you for your contribution. I appreciate your simple but effective approach: be interested every day. Interest begets interest.

    Congratulations on your healthy relationship!
    Best,
    Denise

  • Denise Onofrey

    Denise Onofrey

    November 4th, 2013 at 11:46 AM

    Great points Gina – thank you!
    Every day can make a difference.

    Best,
    Denise

  • Denise Onofrey

    Denise Onofrey

    November 4th, 2013 at 11:47 AM

    Ranjan Patel – Thank you for your kind words.

    Best,
    Denise

  • Denise Onofrey

    Denise Onofrey

    November 4th, 2013 at 11:49 AM

    Mrs. EJG – Thank you for sharing this painful chapter in your marriage. I admire your ability to forgive. I’d love to hear how the 30 Day Challenge turned out!

    Best,
    Denise

  • Denise Onofrey

    Denise Onofrey

    November 4th, 2013 at 11:51 AM

    Hi Clinton! I like the extra day you give couples – just for good measure :) Message me back – I’d love the title of your book and contact information.

    Best,
    Denise

  • Denise Onofrey

    Denise Onofrey

    November 4th, 2013 at 11:53 AM

    Lore W – I’d be happy to help you figure out some ways to fit in quality time. Often times a third party can see solutions otherwise unnoticed. Feel free to email me.

    Best,
    Denise

  • Tiffany

    September 23rd, 2014 at 8:53 PM

    I would love for us to be a part of this. How do we get involved?

  • Danielle A

    June 1st, 2015 at 11:25 AM

    Me and my boyfriend/children’s father have been thru so much and I was so close to throwing in the towel on our 6 year relationship I heard about this challenge on the radio and we are so going to give this a shot I think this could really work for us :)

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