If you are motivated toward having a happy, healthy, and satisfying relationship with your partner, you are probably always looking for ways to improve your communication and maintain a strong and secure bond. I look at love a little differently than some; I believe that it begins as a feeling but continues as a choice. You truly must learn how to "keep the love alive" and be mindful of the way to evoke those feelings of passion, attraction, and true love.
Intimacy, on the other hand, is a little different. Intimacy includes love, but it is not only love. It is so much more. In a monogamous relationship, it is love, respect, vulnerability, and an openness to create a safe space for you and your partner to explore parts of yourself that no others may ever know. It is the commitment to foster a love that you can only establish within this unique partnership.
So... how do you keep intimacy alive? Similar to keeping love alive, you must nourish it. It must be intentional. You cannot be forced by someone else to do it; the efforts must come from within. Here are some concrete and intentional things you can do to take your communication to a more intimate level:
Ask different questions. Be curious.
You never know all of your partner; you will never know them completely. That may be hard to grasp for those of you who feel confident that you know your partner inside out, from their favorite color to their deepest darkest secrets. But... when you think that you've learned everything there is to know about your partner, you have officially entered the DANGER ZONE of relationships. And, if you have found yourself asking your partner boring questions, you have officially allowed yourself to become boring. You are no longer seeking the mystery and unknown of your mate.
So, a great place to start is by getting curious about your partner's world (day in and out). Instead of "so, how was work today?" try asking deeper questions that require an actual response (not just yes or no). Here are a few prompts:
"What was the best part of your day?"
"What do you love the most about our life together?"
"What's something I still don't know about you?"
"What's something you're nervous to tell me about?"
"What's something I do that gets you excited?"
Create the space for intimate communication.
Literally creating a cozy space for you to connect with your partner can make a huge shift in how your conversations unfold. It's hard to feel intimate amidst a messy house with the kids' toys or your clothes sprawled all over the floor (and I don't mean in a good way). When you create a space that can foster a mood or ambiance for intimacy (whether physical, emotional, or just intellectual), it shows effort and that it is a priority for you. Your partner will probably notice immediately. So... grab some candles, fluff the pillows, snag some blankets, or just clean up a little. See what difference it makes!
Touch while you talk.
Studies show how individual blood pressure and physiology changes when two people are physically touching. Have you ever felt the healing power of a good hug? Touch is one of our most intimate forms of connection. I have had couples in session hold hands while talking about uncomfortable or painful things, and have watched the difference it has made.
So, try touching while you communicate. Hold hands, place a hand on your partner's leg, rub their back, or give each other foot rubs while you talk about your days (I'm going to go ahead and assume that everyone reading this article would hands down love a foot rub while winding down for the day). Reach for them, and see what happens.
Start a new ritual to "end with a kiss".
Sometimes communication is hard. Not every conversation ends with a solution. Start a new ritual to end discussions or talks with your partner with a kiss. Start implementing this now with the simple, easy, and positive dialogue you have each day, so that when you find yourselves in the midst of a difficult conversation, the ritual has already been established and you won't forget. This shows your partner that, even though you may disagree on some things, that love is still there. It's like wrapping a gift and giving it to your partner at the end of each conversation, because they're worth it. And they are. So are you!
Allow yourself to be intimate.
For so many people, the first step to better intimacy is simply permitting oneself to have it. Allow yourself to go there. Give yourself permission to finish the laundry tomorrow so you can spend time alone with your partner tonight. Commit to walking into the sacred space of intimacy with your partner... they can't walk there for you, and we all know that begging won't make you want to, either. So, give yourself permission to experience intimacy.
Practice, practice, practice. Intentionality is key!
If you find that this is easier said than done and is proving to be difficult for you, reach out to a professional who can help you explore the barriers standing between you and better intimacy with your partner. I specialize in relational issues, and challenges with intimacy are extremely common across the board. They are also the most workable and changeable aspects of life. You deserve healthy intimacy in your relationship.
For more couple communication skills, get a FREE download of Liz's ebook: The Five Relationship Mistakes You Are Making And What To Do About Them!