Emotional and physical intimacy in a marriage of any duration depends to some extent on the health of the individuals involved and their ability to communicate effectively with one another. Couples who have been married for thirty five years may face challenges in both areas, but these can be overcome when a desire to reignite the flames exists. Physical intimacy is strongly correlated to relationship satisfaction, according to studies conducted by the Kinsey Institute, and both types of intimacy benefit from improved communication. Reconnecting at the emotional level will enhance the likelihood of a satisfying connection at the physical level.
Make time for each other. Years of marriage, and the accumulation of responsibilities that go with it, can lead to habitual patterns of interaction that may not be conducive to intimacy. Shake up the status quo and create opportunities for quiet, intimate conversation. Go back to having a "date night" like you did when your children were at home, or plan a weekend getaway. Even if it feels awkward at first, be intentional about taking time together just to talk.
Do something new together. During your marriage you may have developed separate friends, separate hobbies and separate ways of having fun. If you are missing the good old days when you used to hold hands at the movies and laugh your way into the night, rediscover interests you once shared, or discover new ones, together. Take turns selecting the activity and agree to participate for a certain length of time in each other's choice. If nothing else, you may find an opportunity for a good laugh.
Touch each other more often. Kissing and cuddling lead to happier long term relationships, especially among men, according to the Kinsey Institute's research. Reach for your mate's hand the next time you go to the mall together. Sit side by side in a restaurant, instead of facing each other. Snuggle up next to him on the couch, or kiss her at a moment when she's not expecting it. Express physically the affection you may have forgotten you feel. Physical touch and affection can help you both remember the things that attracted you to each other back in the beginning. It can also help you both to feel more desirable, opening the way for more physical intimacy.
Tackle problem areas together. Aging brings its own set of challenges, both physical and emotional. "Depression affects more than 6.5 million of the 35 million Americans aged 65 years or older," according to the National Alliance on Mental Health. Depression not only affects the quality of life for the individual, but for his spouse as well. Erectile dysfunction, decreased libido from medications, high blood pressure, arthritis and physical changes resulting from menopause are only a few of the intimacy inhibiting health issues that can occur. Work together to solve these issues. When you work as a team, you are more likely to open up to one another. Talk with your physician or a marriage counselor together to see what avenues of help they can offer.
- Take your time to rebuild the connection in your relationship. It didn't disappear over night, so it may take a little time to get it back.
- Aging brings challenges. Supporting one another through the process can bring you closer together.
- KinseyInstitute.org: Sexual Satisfaction and Relationship Happiness in Midlife and Older Couples in Five Countries
- National Alliance on Mental Health: Depression in Older Persons Fact Sheet
- The New York Times: How Therapy Can Help in the Golden Years
- Journal of Social and Personal Relationships: Life-Stage Differences in Communication During Marital Conflicts
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