The Intimacy Definition – And Why It Is Important For Your Marriage And Health

By Nadia Khan|Updated February 10, 2022
CheckedMedically Reviewed By Avia James, LPC

When someone says the word “intimacy,” most people typically think of sex. But it’s important to remember that sex is not the only type of intimacy— and certainly not the only type that’s required for a healthy relationship! So, if you want to improve your intimacy in your relationship with your partner, keep reading! Because, in this article, we’re going to explore the underrepresented reality of intimacy and how it can revitalize your relationship.

It's Normal For Marriages To Have Their Challenges And Difficulties

The Intimacy Definition: Understanding What It Is

Intimacy is the closeness and togetherness in a relationship between partners. Intimacy is often discussed within the context of marriage and heterosexuality but this is a common generalization; you don’t have to be married to experience intimacy with your partner and you certainly don’t have to be straight. In fact, intimacy should be present in all romantic relationships.

That’s because intimacy is the special ingredient that takes you from friends to lovers. Friends can know each other well and experience intimacy to a certain degree but intimacy takes a different form when you’re romantically involved. In practice, this might take the form of brushing your partner’s cheek with your fingertips as you do ordinary things together. It might be knowing their favorite drink and ordering it for them before they’ve even asked you to.

Intimacy can take many different forms for many different couples but the important thing to remember is that, however it looks for you, intimacy is found in the little, non-sexual things that bring you closer together in the ordinary moments of the day.

We all have an inherent need to feel loved and appreciated by our significant others, and understanding each other is the foundation of any solid relationship. Intimacy and understanding provides both partners with a sense of security and confidence and this lays the groundwork for a relationship that’s built on love and trust.

When these key ingredients are missing, it becomes difficult to build and maintain an intimate relationship. Therefore, it makes sense that cultivating intimacy strengthens the relationship. When both partners feel safe and connected, it creates a positive cycle that bonds the couple together in increasing levels of intimacy.

How To Regain Intimacy In Your Relationship

So, if you feel that you’re lacking intimacy in your relationship, the good news is that you’re not alone! And— even better— it’s not too hard to fix the intimacy deficit in your relationship!

With some work, time, patience, and commitment, you and your partner can easily be back on track to reestablishing an intimate, sensual, and loving relationship. But keep in mind that both partners have to be equally invested in the process. It is important to have an honest conversation and ensure you’re both on the same page before you proceed.

If you want to build intimacy within your marriage, here are some tips:

Communicate

Communication is key to a successful marriage. It’s practically impossible for a relationship to function without clear communication, whether you’re discussing pick-up schedules for the children or expressing your feelings, needs, and wants. Make an effort, and take the time to communicate in a positive, encouraging manner without criticism or harsh words.

Get Physical

In the midst of chaotic schedules, especially with children or demanding careers, it can be difficult to take time out to work on the relationship. So, make sure you talk to your partner, and pick a day of the week or a time slot where you can have uninterrupted time together. You can start with something as simple as meeting for lunch at a nice restaurant or a park. Make that hour just about the two of you with no cell phones, no emails, and no distractions.

When you carve out time for each other, make sure to hold hands or touch. Simple, non-sexual physical touch is an important and underrepresented part of intimacy that can really help you feel connected! But if it’s also been a while since you’ve had sex, you should take time to find a moment where you can reconnect physically as well.

Make an effort to set the mood with romantic music, candles, and maybe a romantic dinner or even a long soak in the bathtub. Every couple is different, so the ways you choose to show sexual or non-sexual intimacy will be unique to you. But whatever works for you, make sure you commit to this regularly, and then gradually increase the frequency with which you physically connect.

Build Trust

In some cases, people find it difficult to trust their partners or anyone for that matter. If you feel this might be the case with your partner, consider looking into why you feel that way and what you can both do to rectify the issue.

In cases like these, getting outside help via therapy can be especially useful because a therapist may be able to pinpoint the root cause of your distrust. For instance, is your distrust rooted in childhood problems? Did you grow up in an environment where you had to rely on yourself? Were you abused as a child? Does your partner have a history of being dishonest? A mental health therapist will go over these things with you to help you and your partner overcome these issues, so you can build a foundation of trust.

Show Appreciation

One of the simpler ways of building intimacy in a relationship is to show gratitude and thoughtfulness toward one another. Prioritize kind gestures by doing little things to please your partner. It can be as simple as serving them breakfast in bed, cooking their favorite meal, watching a movie of their choice, or anything that you know will bring a smile to their face.

It's Normal For Marriages To Have Their Challenges And Difficulties

A Deeper Connection With BetterHelp

Recent research has shown that online therapy can benefit couples who are experiencing issues with sexual relations or other forms of intimacy. In one study, published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, researchers examined the effectiveness of online cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) when treating Sexual Interest/Arousal Disorder. Participants reported feeling heightened states of arousal, sexual desire, and satisfaction during therapy. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a widely accepted method of treatment that helps individuals replace intrusive thought patterns that may be underlying unwanted feelings or behaviors, so that certain situations—such as intimate moments with one’s spouse—can be more pleasant.

If you’re uncomfortable discussing these issues in person, online therapy provides a secure, private forum for working through them. With online therapy through BetterHelp, you’ll never have to worry about going to an office or discussing your thoughts and feelings in front of anyone but your therapist. And, if you choose, you can participate completely anonymously—simply select a “nickname” when you register, and your privacy will be even more protected, if you prefer. The certified mental health professionals at BetterHelp know how to help you reignite the flame in your relationship. Read below for reviews of counselors, from those who have experienced similar issues.

Counselor Reviews

Jodi has been of great help and has helped me work on a few different aspects of my life. I’ve struggled with intimacy related issues that have caused my self-esteem to dip, as well as career path anxiety. He’s been a great help in guiding me to feel better about everything which has allowed me to continue to improve and get better. I’ll definitely be coming back to him in the future if needed.”

“Karen has helped me to be able to look outside the box to find how to find possible solutions to my sex life with my wife. A most insightful approach which I had partly recognized before but not taken seriously or realized just how I felt about it.”

Conclusion

Every relationship goes through periods of ups and downs. There will be times when you’ll feel extremely close to your partner and times when you may feel distant from them. That’s because, unfortunately, the honeymoon phase does not last forever. Careers, children, and finances can all get in the way of making time for each other and appreciating each other the way you used to.

So, when your relationship hits a low point, it’s easy to assume that this means your feelings for each other have changed or that your relationship is coming to an end. But that’s not necessarily the case! Sometimes, when you feel that way, it’s simply because you and your partner need to rekindle your sense of intimacy.

So, you find yourself feeling a little lost in your relationship, talk to your partner about the things you want to change. Don’t be afraid to open up about how you’re feeling because they may be feeling the same way! Once you’ve had that conversation, take active steps to improve your marriage and find intimacy again. Couples’ counseling and therapy is an excellent and affordable way to reconnect with each other.

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