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How to Restore Emotional Intimacy

by Kathryn Rateliff Barr, studioD

Emotional intimacy can be disrupted by anger, dishonesty, thoughtlessness, selfishness, annoying behaviors or conflict, according to Dr. Willard F. Harley, Jr. in “The Love Busters.” Lack of emotional intimacy in your relationship can drive one of you into an affair, according to Dr. Tony Ferretti on his website’s Emotional Intimacy page. The key to restoring emotional intimacy is to open your partner’s heart to receiving love and having his emotional needs met.

Resolving Anger

Unresolved anger can destroy emotional intimacy and thus, your relationship, according to Dr. Gary Smalley in his book,“Hidden Keys to Loving Relationships.” Smalley suggests that there are five avenues to restore an open heart and emotion intimacy, beginning with becoming tenderhearted and gentle to open communication with your porter. Once your partner is open to communicating with you, ask her why she is angry, listening and watch her body language for an open body core, relaxed shoulders and a willingness to look tenderly at you. Express an understanding that she is angry and that you could be at fault as you touch her gently and ask for forgiveness.

Ending Conflict

Conflict can erupt if your partner is dishonest, thoughtless, selfish or does something to annoy you. Keep your partner in the conflict until you can resolve it and lead the way back to intimacy, according to Harley. Remaining in the conflict means you believe your relationship is worth fighting for. Communicate about whatever started the conflict. Your careful use of active listening, meeting your partner’s needs, being thoughtful and willing to give him what he needs regardless of whether your needs are met will encourage your partner to move back into intimacy, allowing you to also be emotionally intimate.

Drop the Baggage

Many people come into a relationship with baggage from past relationships, writes Lori H. Gordon, a family therapist in a “Psychology Today” article titled “Intimacy: The Art of Relationships.” Drop the baggage and allow your partner to be responsible only for the actions she does, suggests Gordon. Let your partner know what you expect from her and ask if you don’t understand why she acts the way she does. Talk it out to ensure that you also know what she needs from you. You both need to be honest so that neither says what you think your partner wants to hear instead of you honestly think or feel. Extend empathy and compassion to your partner to entice her back into emotional connection with you.

Expressive Language

Emotional word pictures can grab your partner’s attention, lock what you say into his memory and open the door to intimacy, according to Smalley. To move into deeper intimacy, choose a word picture using a primary interest or concept your partner will understand, such as hitting a hole-in-one or telling your partner you are as frustrated as a bear fishing in an empty pond. Don’t leave your partner to guess what you mean -- be specific to restore the emotional connection.


About the Author

Rev. Kathryn Rateliff Barr has taught birth, parenting, vaccinations and alternative medicine classes since 1994. She is a pastoral family counselor and has parented birth, step, adopted and foster children. She holds bachelor's degrees in English and history from Centenary College of Louisiana. Studies include midwifery, naturopathy and other alternative therapies.

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