7 Ways to Improve Intimacy in Your Relationship
Good relationships don’t just happen. Many people have the attitude that, “If I have to work at it, then it can’t be the right relationship.” This is not a true statement, any more than it’s true that you don’t have to work at good physical health through exercise, eating well, and stress reduction. There are choices you can make that will not only improve your relationship, but can turn a failing relationship into a successful one.
Accept personal responsibility
It may not seem like it, but this is an incredibly important choice that you can make to improve intimacy in your relationship. This means that you learn how to take responsibility for your own feelings and needs and refuse to blame your partner for not making you feel happy and secure. It means learning to treat yourself with kindness, caring, compassion, and acceptance instead of self-judgment. Self-judgment will always make you feel unhappy and insecure, no matter how loving your partner is.
For example, instead of getting angry at your partner for the feelings of rejection you may experience when he or she is late, preoccupied and not listening to you, or not turned on sexually, you would explore your own feelings discover how you might be rejecting yourself. When you learn how to take full, 100% responsibility for yourself, then you stop blaming your partner for your unhappiness. Since blaming your partner for your own unhappiness is the number one cause of relationship problems, learning how to take loving care of yourself is vital to a good relationship.
Compassion, understanding and acceptance
Treat your partner the way you would like to be treated. This is the essence of a truly spiritual life. We all yearn to be treated lovingly — with kindness, compassion, intimacy, understanding, and acceptance. Relationships thrive when both people treat each other with a deep intimacy. While there are no guarantees, sowing intimacy often reaps intimacy in return.
If your partner is consistently angry, judgemental, uncaring and unkind, then you need to focus on what would be loving to yourself, and loving to the other, rather than reverting to anger, blame, judgement, withdrawal, resistance, or compliance. Kindness to others does not mean sacrificing yourself. Always remember that taking responsibility for yourself rather than blaming others is the most important thing you can do.Seek further help such as counselling or coaching if your partner is still not able to treat you with kindness, or as a very last resort you may need to leave the relationship. You cannot make your partner change — you can only change yourself!
Be open to learning
When conflict occurs, you always have two choices regarding how to handle the conflict: you can become open to learning about yourself and your partner and discover the deeper issues of the conflict, or you can try to win, or at least not lose, through some form of controlling behaviour. We’ve all learnt many subtle ways of trying to control others into behaving the way we want: anger, blame, judgement, niceness, compliance, care-taking, resistance, withdrawal of love, explaining, teaching, defending, lying, denying, and so on. None of these promotes healthy intimacy within the relationship and in fact they create even more conflict. Remembering to learn instead of controlling is a vital part of improving intimacy in your relationship.
For example, most people have two major fears that become activated in relationships: the fear of abandonment — of losing the other — and the fear of engulfment — of losing oneself. When these fears get activated, most people immediately protect themselves against these fears with their controlling behaviour. But if you choose to learn about your fears instead of attempting to control your partner, your fear would eventually heal. This is how we grow emotionally and spiritually — by learning instead of controlling.
Make sure you have regular dates
When people first fall in love, they make time for each other. Then, especially after getting married, life happens in all its busyness. Relationships need time to thrive. It is vitally important to set aside specific times to be together — to talk, play and make love. Intimacy cannot be maintained without time together.
Gratitude instead of complaints
Positive energy flows between two people when there is an “attitude of gratitude.” Constant complaints create a heavy, negative energy, which is not fun to be around. Practise being grateful for what you have rather than focusing on what you don’t have. Complaints create stress, while gratitude creates inner peace. Gratitude creates not only intimate, emotional relationship health, but physical health as well.
We all know that “work without play makes Jack a dull boy.” And so too does work without play make for dull relationships. Relationships thrive when people laugh together, play together, and when humour is a part of everyday life. Intimacy flourishes when there is lightness of being, not when everything is heavy.
A wonderful way of creating intimacy is to do service projects together. Giving to others fills the soul and makes the heart sing. Serving moves you out of yourself and your own problems and supports a broader, more spiritual view of life.
If you and your partner agree to these 7 choices, you will be amazed at the improvement in your relationship!