Relationship Problems? 10 Steps to Creating More Intimacy

Relationships can be very challengingEnjoying the view together at times. Although we may care deeply for our partner, we sometimes struggle with communicating our needs in a healthy and assertive way. Because our intimate relationships affect us on the deepest emotional level, we can also be easily triggered from time to time. This problem can be compounded if our partner has learned to deal with problems in a different way than we have.

Anytime we allow ourselves to get close to another person and to be vulnerable, we open ourselves to potential wounding. Most often, the hurt we experience is due to misunderstandings or differences in communication styles.

Some people tend to openly express all of their feelings, whereas others tend to keep their emotions bottled up inside. These differences are frequently caused by our upbringing, as well as our social conditioning. For example, men are often taught in our society that expressing their emotions is a sign of weakness, so they may be less prone to overt emotional manifestations than women. This lack of outer expression can sometimes be frustrating to their partners, who may feel unappreciated or unloved.

The following are steps that you can follow in order to bring more harmony to your relationships:

  1. Communicate clearly. In any relationship, communication is key. Whenever you feel upset about a situation in your life, make sure that you talk about whatever is bothering you with your partner. Keeping your feelings bottled up inside will only lead to further problems down the line.
  2. Schedule regular date times. Take the time to reconnect with one another by doing activities that you enjoy together. Either go out to your favorite restaurant or take a romantic walk along the beach or in the woods, but whatever you choose, allow this time to be dedicated to just the two of you.
  3. Turn off cell phones and electronics when having an important conversation or when out on a date (except for emergencies). Too often nowadays, when couples spend time together they are actually engaged in another conversation with a third party on the phone or via text. This only leads to further feelings of isolation, rather than feelings of closeness.
  4. Do separate activities, as well as activities together. Too much togetherness can be difficult for any relationship. Set aside some time on a regular basis to do activities that you each enjoy doing separately. This could be anything from taking a yoga class to catching up with your friends over a cup of coffee or tea.
  5. Set healthy boundaries in your relationship and life. If you are feeling overworked and underappreciated, learn to say no to any additional commitments. Review your responsibilities and try to distribute them more equitably. Have everyone in the household participate in the daily chores. Turn down yet another invitation in favor of spending some quality time at home with your partner or family.
  6. Review your finances together. Couples tend to argue more about their cash flow and where their money gets spent than about any other issue. Sit down together and look over your financial situation. If you are struggling with serious financial problems, you may need to consult a financial planner to get back on track. Otherwise, try to come up with a realistic budget that you can both agree on.
  7. Be assertive about your needs. If you feel as though your needs are not being met in your relationship, have an honest conversation with your loved one, rather than allowing the situation to fester. We sometimes expect our partners to know what our needs are without openly expressing them, which can lead to hurt feelings and misunderstandings.
  8. Be willing to compromise. There will always be issues that trigger us in our relationships, and we need to be willing to be flexible and to make compromises when needed. Try putting yourself in your partner’s shoes in order to look at the situation more objectively and to understand their point of view.
  9. Take time out to cool down during an argument, rather than saying things you might regret later. Anytime you feel as though your anger is getting the best of you, tell your partner that you need a little time to get your temper under control before continuing with the conversation. Then go for a walk and try to see the situation from a different perspective before addressing the issue again.
  10. Get out of an abusive relationship. If you are in a physically or emotionally abusive relationship, get the help you need to leave the relationship. If possible, take refuge with family members or close friends. Otherwise, seek out a shelter in your area that specializes in helping individuals who’ve been battered or abused. Understand that the cycle of power and control that exists in abusive relationships will not change unless one or both partners seek professional help.

If you have tried some or all of the suggestions listed above and you are still experiencing problems with your relationship, individual or couples therapy is another effective alternative for getting your relationship on track. An empathic psychotherapist can often help you to resolve the communication problems you’ve been dealing with and to reconnect with your partner in a more fulfilling and intimate way.

© Copyright 2014 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Wendy Salazar, MFT, therapist in San Diego, California

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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  • Morgan K.

    September 29th, 2014 at 10:32 AM

    I especially think that learning to do things alone as well as together is sooo important to making a relationship last. I see these friends of mine who do not think that they can go out and do anything alone anymore and I am like what?!? What happened to that fun loving girl I used to knowm but they get so wrapped up in being with that other person that they forget how to lead a life on their own too. I think that this is where lots of people mess up because they cease having to do without having this person is around, and then if they break up, well they are stuck with no friends and nothing that they can claim as their own anymore.

  • illy

    September 29th, 2014 at 3:15 PM

    Basically I think that the long and the short of this is that you have to be willing to put it all out there on the line even though this can ,ake you feel vulnerable and exposed. It is not that your partner wants you to do this so that you will feel weak, but so that they can help you through whatever may be causing you some issues or the things that you are the most scared to talk about. If this is a person who means that much to you then you should be able to lay it all out there and not be afraid of what the ramifications are. I think that if you continually hold back then your partner will become afraid that you don’t want to share things with him or her and that can drive a huge wedge between the two of you.

  • Creighton

    September 30th, 2014 at 3:55 AM

    I am always searching for new ways to spice up our relationship and add a little more closeness to us, and I think that this list is the perfect start!

  • merri

    October 1st, 2014 at 3:53 AM

    While I agree that all of these things are necessary for having a wonderful and loving relationship, Iam still struck by the fact that there will be people who use this like a checklist, I do this, this and this so the relationship should be great. I think that we all know that maintaining and building a solid relationship is more than just checking things off a list. Yes, these things should help be your guide, but we have to understand that our relationship is unique and when works for someone else may have to be modified to meet our own needs and those of our partner. Just be mindful that in order for one to be strong, you sometimes have to go off the list too.

  • Grant

    October 1st, 2014 at 3:52 PM

    aaahhh compromise- what a lovely word that gets bandied about all the time but rarely if ever used

  • Josefina

    October 2nd, 2014 at 3:55 AM

    There are times that I just have to walk away when my boyfriend and I are having an argument.
    I know that if I don’t take a little time out then I am definitely going to say something that I don’t mean and he will get his feelings hurt or worse.
    Sometimes we say things in the ehat of the moment and don’t really mean it but then you can’t take back words once they have been said.
    Saying that you are sorry will always be a good start but it can’t fix it. The only way to avoid doing something like this is to walk away, take a few breaths, and then go back to the discussion once you feel that you can do so rationally.

  • Ava

    October 2nd, 2014 at 4:47 PM

    There are so many times when I feel like I am being pulled in a hundred directions, so I have to take a step back and reprioritize and remember the things that are important in my life. My relationship with my husband is top priority and I have to work hard to keep it that way, and I think that he has to do the same thing. It is hard being pulled in all of those directions but you just have to put your foot down sometimes and keep what is important to you in the top position.

  • Tricia

    October 20th, 2014 at 9:12 PM

    Do you have kids too? Or is it just you and your husband?

  • Heather

    October 4th, 2014 at 6:10 AM

    Date night… what happened to our date nights? It is easy to say have a date but you have to understand that for some of us money is always tight and it is impossible to afford a babysitter and going on a date somewhere too. It feels like these days will never end, and I always thought that we would be closer than this but it seems that the kids have driven us apart instead of bringing us closer together. I don’t know how that is actually possible but for us it has been. I want to keep the relationship strong but sometimes I can feel it all slipping away and that is a terrible feeling.

  • Mahendra T.

    February 18th, 2015 at 2:36 AM

    I always read such kind of posts to help me, to make better my relationship.It is amazing.
    Thanks for share

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