On any given weekday, how many chores, tasks, and responsibilities do you have? Is nurturing your relationship anywhere on that list?
Amid the daily grind, so often our loved ones take the back burner. We expect our partners to be there for us and love us unconditionally, even when we are cranky and burnt out. A busy life can cause distance and disconnection in relationships.
So how do you stay connected? When the world is spinning like a tornado around you, ground yourself in the relationship. It’s time to be more present and intimate with your partner.
Intimacy involves opening yourself up, sharing, and connecting with your partner. Through intimate moments, whether sexual or nonsexual, we feel a sense of closeness, familiarity, affection, and maybe even those butterflies again.
It takes time to develop a lasting bond, but even over the course of a month, you can take meaningful steps toward a stronger and healthier relationship. In the next 30 days, try to incorporate the following:
- Gratitude: Every day with your partner marks a choice to remain in your relationship. So why not bring more attention and awareness to this choice? It’s not that we intentionally take our partners for granted. Rather, we expect that they support us while we do not always show appreciation and gratitude. Each night for the next 30 days, identify and thank your partner for something thoughtful they did that day. Pay attention to the small things that may normally go unnoticed, such as washing the dishes, helping the kids get cleaned up for bed, or gassing up the car. You can also keep a gratitude journal, in which you write down specific things that you appreciate or are grateful for about your partner. Maybe it was an “I love you” note or the way they made you laugh. The more aware you are of your partner’s actions, the more inclined you may be to give compliments and do thoughtful things that enhance the intimacy in your relationship.
- Text: There’s no question that communicating in person is ideal. Even a phone call is more intimate, but sometimes a text is the most realistic, quickest way to show that you care. During a busy day at work, take 30 seconds to send a text letting your partner know you are thinking of them. Send a simple “I miss you,” “I can’t wait to see you tonight,” or a “Good luck at your meeting with the boss” message. Get creative—maybe you take a picture of your lunch and say, “I thought we could go on a virtual picnic!” Don’t be afraid to get a little sassy with a sexual comment or suggestive photo to help keep the flame going. Building anticipation is a phenomenal way to create intimacy. The most important thing to convey is that your partner is in your thoughts.
- Share a positive memory: Reminiscing strengthens your bond. Discuss a memory from when you started dating or fell in love. You may notice talking about the “early days” creates sexual arousal. It’s normal for the frequency of sex to decline after you’ve been dating for a long time, so these moments help you reconnect and ignite passion. You can even relive your first date or travel to a location that holds special meaning to your relationship.
- Daily check-in: Remember that tornado swirling around you? Amid the chaos of life, it’s essential to check in with your partner and talk about your day—yes, every day! Maybe it’s when you sit down for dinner, or perhaps you create a daily ritual of taking a walk around the block together. If you don’t carve out this space and do it consistently, the opportunity will likely pass you by, so this has to be a priority. You must give your partner your full, undivided attention. Put down your cell phone, turn off the television, stop folding laundry, and physically orient yourself toward your partner. Show them you are engaged by making eye contact, nodding, or by using physical touch—taking their hand or putting your hand on their thigh.
- Physical touch: Oh, the power of touch! One of the most important ways of creating intimacy is through physical touch—hugging, kissing, massaging, stroking, rubbing, having sex … you name it! This is also one of the things that separate a romantic relationship from a typical friendship. Over the next 30 days, increase physical affection—not the usual kiss goodbye before work or hug hello when you return. Be mindful of this intimacy—hold on for an extra-long embrace, snuggle up on the couch when you might normally sit on separate sides, or hold hands on the carpool to work.
When the 30 days are up, if you’re still struggling to create intimacy in your relationship, try a short exercise. It should leave you both feeling warm and fuzzy! Each partner should write down the answers to the following questions. Discuss the responses together, then keep your partner’s answers so that you can reread them at any time for a feel-good moment:
- What are three physical attributes that you are most attracted to about your partner?
- What are three personality traits that you are most attracted to about your partner?
- What are three of your most treasured memories with your partner?
- What are three things you are looking forward to most about your future with your partner?
© Copyright 2015 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Samantha Burns, LMHC, therapist in Cambridge, Massachusetts
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