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How to Create Emotional Intimacy in Marriage

by Melody Causewell

Sometimes it can feel like the intimacy switch has been flipped off in your marriage. But emotional intimacy is critical in creating a lasting bond with your partner and long-term marital happiness. Create more emotional intimacy through friendship, quality time together, a focus on the positive and a healthier sex life.

Friendship

Practicing friendship skills with peers in group therapy sessions helps couples to improve emotional intimacy in marriage, according to psychiatrist and researcher Robert M. Garfield in the article “Male Emotional Intimacy: How Therapeutic Men's Groups Can Enhance Couples Therapy” published in Family Process. Garfield says that by enhancing friendship skills — such as connection, communication, commitment, and cooperation — partners are more able to use these skills with their spouses, which enhances emotional intimacy. If you and your partner are butting heads over chores, speak to them as you would a friend and see if you can find a kind, respectful compromise by communicating your needs: "I have trouble keeping up with the dishes on days I work. Can you do them every other day?" Practice being friends and you can get intimacy back.

Quality Talk Time

In order to improve emotional intimacy you have to actually be near one another, or at least in contact. Call your spouse during the day to tell him that you love him. Take a few extra minutes after dinner to talk about your day, or snuggle on the couch after the kids go to bed. If you can swing it, go on a date night and talk about your hopes and dreams for the future. Sharing personal information will bring you closer and make you feel more connected. Your spouse might even surprise you with a new goal you weren’t aware of, or be willing to help you accomplish yours.

Focus on the Good

Focusing on small things that you like about your spouse can enhance intimacy and overall happiness, according to psychologist and co-director of the UCLA Relationship Institute, Benjamin Karney, in “Keeping Marriages Healthy, and Why It’s So Difficult” on the American Psychological Association website. By seeing your wife in a more positive light, emotional intimacy tends to follow because you'll spend less time arguing over small negative details and more time on the things you care about. For example, send your wife a text message that tells her how much you appreciate her or make a list of the things you like about her and share it over dinner.

More Sex

Emotional intimacy may be related to sexual satisfaction, says Ohio State University professor and researcher Hana Yoo, et al., in a study of 335 married couples published as “Couple Communication, Emotional and Sexual Intimacy, and Relationship Satisfaction” in the Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy. In this study, sexual satisfaction predicted emotional intimacy; when the couple had more sexual satisfaction they had higher emotional intimacy and vice versa. More quality time between the sheets may assist couples looking to enhance emotional intimacy.

About the Author

Melody Causewell has been a writer in the mental health field since 2001. She written training manuals and clinical programs for mental health organizations. She has published feature articles "Leaven" magazine and has been published in "Natural Awakenings." She has a degree in psychology, a Masters degree in social work and is a La Leche League leader.

Photo Credits

  • Mike Powell/Digital Vision/Getty Images