If life was really like a romantic movie, intimacy would never fade. But real life is much more complicated, and work and family commitments, among other demands, pull us in different directions, sometimes causing us to put our romantic relationships on the back burner for a while. Fortunately, intimacy can usually be recaptured if both people are willing to engage in some exercises designed to rekindle the romance.
Put Pen to Paper
Intimacy exercises often involve writing because seeing things in ink can make them seem more real -- not to mention, writing helps you organize your thoughts so you end up clearly expressing what you wanted to. One thing you can do is make a list of what you appreciate about one another and then exchange lists. Or write down 10 things you love about the other person on 10 slips of paper and leave the slips where your partner is sure to find them. You can also flip the tables and write down questions such as "What do you love best about me?" Then, exchange papers and answer each other's questions.
Do Random Acts of Love
You've heard of random acts of kindness -- now do random acts of love. Surprise your significant other with unexpected acts of service or gifts. Show up at his office one day with a gourmet picnic basket and head to a nearby park for lunch. Send her a single rose with a card containing concert tickets. Or put down that mulch in the flower beds as she's been begging you to do. Smaller touches can be just as meaningful -- drawing a bubble bath or putting on some music and lighting some candles for a dance at home after dinner. Random acts of service and love, whether overtly romantic or not, show your significant other that you are thinking of her and that you put her first in your life, which can increase feelings of closeness and love.
Show a Little Tenderness
Intimacy also comes from being physically close. When you touch someone, you let them into your personal space, which increases feelings of trust. It's important, however, that there are no expectations from either partner that simple touching will lead to sexual activity, according to therapist Fran Fisher in the Sutter Health article "Couples Exercises for Building Intimacy." If touching exercises eventually lead to mutual passion, that is good, but it shouldn't be a given. Spend five or 10 minutes a day holding hands and looking into each others eyes. As you gaze at each other, softly share any thoughts that naturally occur during that time. Or spend the time giving each other foot or back rubs. Begin each day with a hug and kiss as you walk out the door to go your separate ways, and end the day in the same manner. Snuggle together as you watch a movie instead of sitting in separate seats.
Learn How to Listen
One of the most frequent complains Fisher hears in couples counseling is that one partner is not a good listener. To remedy this, the couple should engage in listening exercises. In one, the couple comes up with a code phrase that signals that he or she wants to talk. The phrase could be something like "Three minutes please." Then, the couple sits facing each other, and the person who said the code phrase gets to talk for three minutes while the other just listens -- without commenting and without making faces. Use a timer to make sure the speaker does not go over the time limit. After three minutes, the couple changes places and now the listener must repeat back what the speaker said. If the speaker feels that the listener did not repeat back what she said correctly, the couple must change places and try again. In this way, the listener learns to really listen and understand what their partner is saying the first time.