In the beginning, relationships are typically full of love, lust and feelings of closeness and intimacy. It can seem like nothing else in the world matters as long as you have that special someone by your side. However, as the relationship continues and that initial excitement of new love dies, these feelings of closeness can start to fade as well. A lack of intimacy isn't unusual in ongoing relationships; however, often all it takes is a little work to put things right again.
Stereotypically, a lot of people might define intimacy as what happens sexually between a couple. However, sex is only one piece of the intimate puzzle. According to the University of Florida Counseling and Wellness Center website, there are four primary types of intimacy: Intellectual intimacy involves the sharing of thoughts, while experiential intimacy is the sharing of activities. Emotional intimacy has to do with sharing feelings, while sexual intimacy includes any form of sensual expression. Although all four play a part in all close relationships, often it's the problems with sexual and emotional intimacy that cause issues for married couples.
Restoring intimacy in a relationship often begins with addressing the emotional side before the physical side, notes marriage and family therapist Lisa Thomas in a "Psychology Today" article. This means you should work on rebuilding the emotional connection with your wife first. Restore the positive, warm, and loving feelings you had towards each other. Quite often in relationships, you end up taking each other for granted. Start complimenting each other again and talk openly about your feelings. Make the effort to find time just for each other. Plan romantic dates, or even romantic weekends, so you can focus on each other without everyday distractions of work and obligations you have in the home.
Maintaining sexual, or physical, intimacy is important for keeping a strong bond and connection with your wife. Sensuous activities such as holding hands, kissing, massaging, hugging, as well as engaging in sex all help restore feelings of closeness and security with each another. These feelings stem from chemicals released by the brain during these activities, one of which is the “love hormone,” oxytocin. According to research noted in the June 2007 issue of the "FEBS Letters" journal, oxytocin is a chemical that seems particularly linked to bonding and attachment.
Working It Out
Humans need intimacy to maintain feelings of security, closeness and bonding. The bad news is that it's all too easy to let intimacy slip in long-term relationships. Once you realize that intimacy is lacking in your relationship, you need to talk to your wife about it. Initiate a discussion about how you can both work on restoring it. It's key for both of you to really listen to what the other one wants -- and needs -- in your relationship. You both must be on board in wanting a greater degree of intimacy in your marriage.