emotional intimacy

Any married person is familiar with sexual intimacy. It’s amazing, essential to connection, and an expected part of marriage. On the other hand, you’ve probably heard of emotional intimacy and yet you're probably not as familiar with that term. What is emotional intimacy?

Emotional Intimacy and Its Importance

Emotional intimacy involves a closeness created through sharing each other’s feelings, thoughts, and desires. This is both verbal and non-verbal communication. It’s more than just, “Can we talk?”

It is one of the 6 Pillars of Intimacy – along with physical intimacy, financial intimacy, spiritual intimacy, recreational intimacy and sexual intimacy – which makes for a strong foundation of a long-lasting marriage.

Gaps in Intimacy and Communication

To understand the process of being emotionally intimate with your spouse, it can be helpful to understand when there is no emotional intimacy in marriage. These can include, but not limited to:

  • Your spouse looks at their device more than they look at you.
  • Your conversations are short or shallow.
  • You find it hard to be vulnerable and share thoughts.
  • You're afraid you will be met with judgement or annoyance.
  • You never know what your spouse is thinking because they don’t share that with you.

If you’ve been married for any length of time, you can probably tell when your spouse is holding something back, or when something is off.

You know when you felt most emotionally connected to your spouse. You can recall specific conversations or moments when your connection was deepest. When those become harder to recall, this can be a sign that the intimate emotional connection you once had is fading and needs to be improved.

How to Foster Intimacy

Even if you feel that your emotional intimacy is as good as it’s ever been, there are still some ways to maintain that level and continue to foster the connection. If you feel disconnected from your spouse emotionally, here are some ways to improve your communication and improve the emotional connection with your spouse.

Quality Time

One of the best things you can do to build emotional intimacy is to be around each other. And not just be around each other, but to be fully present as well. This can mean turning off your phone and electronic devices, or even leaving them in the house as you go on a walk.

When you give your spouse your undivided time and attention shows the unconditional love of a dedicated spouse.

It can also mean prioritizing spending time with your spouse, even if it means sacrificing something else you want to do. Putting your spouse ahead of other obligations and carving out time to spend with them alone can do wonders to improving your closeness. While some people don’t need a lot of quality time, it’s important to share your communication preferences with your spouse to understand this.

Share Your Fears and Concerns

One common habit long-term marriages fall into is the mundaneness of routine. Especially when kids are involved, routines take over the household, dominating all aspects of a marriage. This can breed conflict when one or the other feels tired or under-appreciated. Taking the time to express doubts, fears, or concerns goes a long way to resolve any sort of conflicts that might be brewing in the marriage and allows the channels of communication to remain open.

Conflicts are a natural part of life and are in marriage. Two people with different upbringings, different backgrounds, and different opinions are bound to disagree. Don’t be afraid of the conflict; use it as an opportunity to understand one another and build your emotional intimacy together.

Talk About Sex

This falls hand in hand with one of the other 6 Pillars of Intimacy, as communication about sexual intimacy can improve your emotional connection. By sharing what turns you on in the bedroom as well as listening to what entices your spouse, you can foster a deeper connection that will bring pleasure to you both.

Being married to the same person for a long time can bring challenges in keeping bedroom activities exciting and interesting. It is normal for desires to change, and by keeping open communication with your spouse about it, you can further deepen the connection you have with one another.

Express Yourself Nonverbally

Another good way to be emotionally intimate is through nonverbal means. Sometimes emotions can be shared through body language and posture. By building a nonverbal language between the two of you, you can still communicate when words are hard. A touch on the back, a stroke of the hand, a tap of the foot are ways that you can engage one another when words are working.

Be Honest, Even If It Hurts

Using your words is one of the most powerful things you can do in a marriage. Even if your spouse can pick up on your nonverbal clues, the best way to share yourself is through language. Sometimes the simplest form of communication is the most effective. Use “I feel…” and then express yourself without attaching blame to your spouse.

Seek Out Marriage Coaching

There are times when you may need outside help to address issues within yourself and your marriage. In these times, you may be facing deeper issues that require the help of a marriage coach. There is strength in asking for help, and can even deepen the emotional intimacy in your marriage.

Marriage coaching can help open up channels of communication and address areas that need attention. Sometimes it’s better to hear your spouse through the ears of someone else. Coaching is a wonderful way to foster emotional intimacy by acknowledging that help is needed.

Indulge Each Other

Sometimes you can get to a point in your marriage or your life when you just need someone to spoil you or be there with you when you spiral. Life can be difficult at times and yet having a teammate to pick you up or carry you when you stumble makes it better.

Vulnerability is scary.

By sharing moments of weakness with your spouse they no longer became just yours. It’s easier to deal with issues when two people are working on them rather than one. Have the strength to indulge yourself with your spouse, and let them do the same.

To understand more about emotional intimacy and what to do when there is no emotional intimacy in marriage, pick up your copy of The 6 Pillars of Intimacy.