Who is the first person you want to tell when something good happens? What about when something bad happens? What if you have a worry or concern? Do you go to your spouse with all of these thoughts and feelings? Are you that person for your spouse?
This blog post will give you the tools you need to increase emotional intimacy in your marriage. Keep reading for some great and lasting tips to build this incredible connection.
- What is emotional intimacy?
- How important is emotional intimacy in a relationship?
- What are examples and signs of emotional intimacy?
- What are the 4 types of intimacy?
- Emotional Intimacy Test
- How to build emotional intimacy
- 1. Earn your spouse’s trust through actions
- 2. Make appreciation a habit
- 3. Practice kindness when your spouse shares thoughts and feelings
- 4. Take care of each other
- 5. Care about your spouse and the marriage
- 6. Stop and notice
- 7. Practice deeper listening
- 8. Make date night a priority
- 9. Take an interest in each other’s hobbies
- 10. Don’t be afraid of vulnerability
- 11. Own up to your mistakes
- 12. Don’t back down from a challenge
- 13. Don’t avoid conflict and tough emotions
- 14. Resolve conflict in a healthy way
- 15. Don’t just talk about work and the kids
- 16. Make a plan
- 17. Cherish the small moments
- 18. Go slow and invest in the process
- 19. Create habits
- Emotional intimacy exercises
- Final thoughts
What is emotional intimacy?
Emotional intimacy is the ability to share your thoughts, feelings, desires, and concerns with another person. In marriage, strong emotional intimacy means you can go to your spouse for anything.
How important is emotional intimacy in a relationship?
To be healthy, all close relationships need some level of emotional intimacy. It can mean the difference between an acquaintance and a friend. If this is necessary for friendship, it’s infinitely more important for a healthy marriage.
How would you feel if your spouse never talked to you about his/her feelings? Your marriage would quickly turn from a loving relationship to just being roommates.
Healthy marriages work through tough connections. They build emotional intimacy so they can grow together and last longer.
I surveyed 122 divorced women. An overwhelming 85% of them said their marriages lacked emotional intimacy. In fact, they said it was one of the problems that led to their divorce.
What are examples and signs of emotional intimacy?
There are many ways to show emotional intimacy in your marriage. Here are some examples:
- You feel comfortable telling your spouse your thoughts: Don’t get me wrong, it can be difficult to address concerns and be vulnerable. In emotionally healthy marriages, these conversations are just a little bit easier.
- You’re not afraid of new experiences: You know your spouse will support you through the uncertainty of new experiences.
- You feel appreciated: It’s one thing to appreciate your spouse and another to actually show it.
- You feel truly heard when you talk to your spouse: Your spouse doesn’t challenge or contradict you when you talk. Instead, you are listened to. Follow-up questions might be asked.
- You are met with kindness when you talk about your feelings: You feel secure enough to express your feelings because you have been met with kindness in the past.
- You feel comfortable being vulnerable with your spouse: Vulnerability stems from a level of emotional intimacy that takes time to grow.
What are the 4 types of intimacy?
According to PsychCentral, there are 4 types of intimacy: physical, emotional, mental/intellectual, and spiritual.
Emotional Intimacy Test
How emotionally intimate is your marriage? Use this quick test to find out! Don’t worry, the tips below will help you build on each of these.
How to build emotional intimacy
1. Earn your spouse’s trust through actions
Trust in marriage is such a large topic. So let’s focus on trust through the lens of emotional intimacy. Can your spouse trust that you will react kindly to them during an emotional moment?
Each time your spouse opens up to you is an opportunity. Show that you can be trusted with the information through your actions.
How do you respond? Your response could determine whether your spouse opens up to you again.
What do you do with that information? Your spouse shared a private moment with you. Don’t go repeating it with others unless you’ve already talked about it with your spouse.
2. Make appreciation a habit
Appreciate your spouse
Your spouse is special. Look at them through this lens. Begin to see everything your spouse does as special. Appreciate the fact that you are lucky enough to have them in your life. The next step is to show your appreciation so that your spouse feels it.
Appreciate your marriage
Your marriage is special too. The more you value your marriage, the more work you’ll begin to put into it.
Appreciate your part in the marriage
Don’t forget to value yourself and the part you play in making the marriage great!
3. Practice kindness when your spouse shares thoughts and feelings
How would you like your spouse to respond when you share thoughts and feelings? Apply this mentality when your spouse opens up to you. What changes can you make to ensure your spouse is met with kindness?
Here are some ideas to help you refocus:
- Remember that you love your spouse
- Be thankful that your spouse is opening up to you
- Keep in mind that your spouse’s opinions, thoughts, and feelings should be valued
4. Take care of each other
What does your wife need right now? What is your husband struggling through?
Check in with each other and be there for each other. I know I can get through anything because Josh is always there to support me and lend a hand when I need it.
5. Care about your spouse and the marriage
Genuinely caring about your spouse and the marriage means you put them first. Make your marriage a priority. Did you know that only 53% of married couples prioritize their marriage over their kids? I’m not saying your kids aren’t important. But if the foundation of your family (your marriage) is not doing well, your family as a whole will not do well either.
Maybe it’s time to change your priorities so that you begin to value each other in a deeper way.
6. Stop and notice
This goes back to the appreciation note above. We get so caught up in our day-to-day routines that we can forget to see how special our marriages are.
What did your husband do this morning that made you feel special? Did he pour your cup of coffee? What did your wife say to you today that made you feel loved? Maybe she asked about your day? The first step to appreciation is noticing the little things.
7. Practice deeper listening
Don’t dismiss your spouse’s emotions, feelings, and thoughts. Practice deeper listening. Remember to be kind and appreciate your spouse for being vulnerable enough to open up.
Next, you need to clear your mind. You can’t listen if you’re thinking about something else.
You may want to go into “fix it” mode, but that might not be what your spouse wants or needs. Sometimes your spouse just wants to vent and prefers for you to listen and empathize. If you really want to help, ask a quick “Can I help in any way?” This gives your spouse the freedom to think about what they need and will make them feel like a priority.
8. Make date night a priority
Need something a little more romantic? Check out Romance Enhanced. Josie has premade romantic dates and will even provide a custom-made romantic date.
9. Take an interest in each other’s hobbies
What does your spouse like to do? When you show an interest in their hobbies, you reiterate their importance to you. Take this a step further and participate in the hobby with them!
10. Don’t be afraid of vulnerability
Being vulnerable can be terrifying. Your spouse is the one person you should be able to be vulnerable with.
If you can’t, ask yourself why? What is stopping you? Has your spouse responded with unkindness to your vulnerability in the past?
How have you responded to your spouse’s vulnerability in the past? It might be time to sit down with your spouse and have a frank conversation together.
11. Own up to your mistakes
It can be easy to point the finger at someone else when something goes wrong. If emotional intimacy is lacking in your marriage, think about the part you’ve played. Own up to it by first internalizing it. Next, discuss it with your spouse. You’ll likely be met with appreciation for being so honest and forthcoming.
12. Don’t back down from a challenge
When couples go through difficult challenges together, they have an opportunity to grow together. Even better, purposely start a challenge together!
For example, you can both start a workout and diet plan that challenges you to be healthier. Use this as an opportunity to motivate each other when one of you is faltering. Believe in each other and help each other get through the challenge together!
Be there for each other when the challenge is getting to be too much. Eating healthy means you have to cook more meals at home. Maybe it’s hard to fit that into your busy schedule. Lean on each other with your concerns. When you come out on the other side, you’ll have grown closer together emotionally!
13. Don’t avoid conflict and tough emotions
What concerns, worries, or anxieties do you have? They can be about your spouse or someone/something else. Embrace them instead of pushing them away. I’m the worst about this so I’ll be the first one to tell you that this is not easy. But the more comfortable you are with these emotions, the better you’ll become at sharing them with your spouse.
Likewise, don’t be afraid of conflict in your marriage. As long as it’s handled in a healthy way, conflict can be a good thing. It can help you grow in your marriage.
14. Resolve conflict in a healthy way
Conflict is going to arise throughout your marriage. Learn how to resolve it in a healthy way so that you don’t do lasting damage.
15. Don’t just talk about work and the kids
Your life with your spouse is so much more than work, the house, and the kids. So put forth the effort to have some amazing conversations with your spouse that have nothing to do with your to-do list. See below for some ideas.
Need some fun conversation starters? Here are our favorites!
16. Make a plan
Sometimes you need to plan out moments so you’ll sit down and connect emotionally with your spouse. Just because it wasn’t spontaneous doesn’t mean it’s not real.
Schedule a “check-in”. Pick a time when you are both relaxed (not when the kids are running amok). Sit down and ask your spouse how they are doing. How are they feeling? How can you help? Scheduling this kind of conversation can turn it into a habit that you both enjoy and look forward to.
Try incorporating some new changes to keep things fresh. You could do a conversation starter at dinner time or plan a date night at home. If you need help with that last one, we love DateBox Club and Crated with Love!
17. Cherish the small moments
A lot of sweet, emotional connections can come from the small moments in your marriage. Take the time to notice them throughout the day.
Does your wife focus on you when you talk, even though the kids are making a lot of noise in the background? Do you share a glass of wine with your husband while you cook dinner together? Do you watch a funny comedy show together before bed to laugh?
All of these small moments will bring you closer together and help you connect emotionally.
18. Go slow and invest in the process
As you can see while you read this post, emotional intimacy takes time.
You likely spent a lot of time getting to know each other when you were dating. Take that same mentality and apply it to every aspect of your marriage. Take the time to get to know your spouse again. You will come to cherish this part of your marriage.
19. Create habits
Think of some ways that you and your spouse can connect on a daily basis and make them a habit. Here are some sweet and simple ideas:
- Always say “good morning” first thing when you wake up
- Always say “good night” before bed
- Never leave the house without saying “I love you”
- Say “thank you” when your spouse does something for you
Emotional intimacy exercises
Practice some of these exercises to help you strengthen the emotional intimacy in your marriage!
Exercise #1: Make asking for what you want/need a habit. You both need to do this! When your spouse follows through with this, respond with loving kindness: “Absolutely! Thank you for being honest about what you need!”
Exercise #2: Have a discussion about conflict with your spouse.
In what ways have you handled conflict in the past? Have they been healthy? Talk through some examples in a frank, matter-of-fact way. There’s no judgment or hard feelings in this conversation.
Understand how you prefer to handle conflict so that you can reiterate this to your spouse. (Do you like to have some time to calm down before you discuss the issue? Do you like to talk through it immediately?) Then talk about how you might want to approach conflict going forward. Make a plan together so that you are both on the same page.
Exercise #3: Have a deep conversation using these conversation starters:
- How can I communicate better with you?
- What do you think I need to work on: my communication skills or my listening skills?
- Am I romantic enough or do you wish I would do more in this area?
- What is the best thing about our marriage?
- What do we do really well together?
- How can we be a better team?
- How can I make you more of a priority?
- What’s something I do that makes you feel appreciated?
Exercise #4: Write each other handwritten notes
Who doesn’t love a sweet, handwritten note? Try hiding them around the house or sneaking one into your wife’s work lunch. Find more ideas for love notes here.
We hope you found this post helpful! Emotional intimacy is so important in a marriage. If reading this post made you realize that your marriage might have a lack of emotional intimacy, read this next.
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