The first thing to cross most people's minds when they hear the word "intimacy" probably has little to do with emotions, emotional well-being, or overall connection with your spouse, right? However, emotional intimacy is actually a critical component to the health of any marriage, and a vital and important part of overall intimacy between husband and wife.
Physical intimacy is definitely important (and fun!), but without emotional intimacy right beside it, you will never be able to experience the deep meaning and companionship that marriage can provide. In fact, physical intimacy and emotional intimacy complement one another. They feed off of and lead to each other. For example, most couples who are emotionally intimate enjoy greater satisfaction in their physical relationship.
It's no secret that women tend to be more in tune with their emotions than men. For many women, emotional intimacy in marriage is equally important, if not more important, than physical intimacy. Women crave the connection that comes through being emotionally intimate with their spouse. Because of this, you can't discount the importance of having a healthy emotional relationship with your lover.
Try one of these 5 ways to foster emotional intimacy in your marriage this week:
1. Talk often
This may seem obvious, but it is so easy to overlook or scrimp on. You and your spouse need time to talk on a regular basis! Not just time to talk about the kids, or work, or the crazy world of politics - but time to talk about things that really matter to your relationship.
Talk about your hopes, dreams, and goals. Talk about your struggles and shortcomings. Talk about areas you're trying to improve in and solicit each other's feedback and help. Talk about your feelings and emotionally connect with each other.
The fact of the matter is, most couples these days are pretty busy... extremely busy. Having intimate conversation with your spouse takes time, and you have to be committed to making it happen. In other words, you have to make time for it.
One idea that works for many couples is to carve out 15 minutes each night to simply talk. If that's not feasible, then try scheduling 30 minutes or an hour every Sunday night. Whatever works for you, be committed to talking often.
If your spouse is having a hard day, then be there for him or her. If they're going through a particularly difficult challenge, then be there. If they're giving a big speech or being presented with an award, then be there. Support your spouse by being an active and engaged partner in their life.
Being there for your spouse doesn't necessarily mean you have to physically be by their side all the time - that's obviously not possible. But it does mean that they need to feel like they can call on you whenever needed and feel confident that you will respond with support and kindness. Whether they need to chat to get something off their chest, or they genuinely need some counsel and advice, they need to know you're there for them.
If you want to feel emotionally connected to your spouse, then listen to them. People are much more prone to share their thoughts and ideas if they know they're being listened to. On the other hand, if someone senses their spouse isn't really listening, or their mind is elsewhere, they're far less likely to engage in intimate conversation. A great example of this is the wife who constantly interrupts her husband mid-sentence, or the husband who pretends to listen to his wife while watching the game.
Studies have shown that far less than 50% of communication is verbal. So, it isn't enough to listen with just your ears. Rather, you need to listen with your eyes by paying attention to body language. You also need to listen with your heart by paying attention to emotions and trying to discern how your spouse is feeling.
4. Share the details of your life
In order to enjoy healthy, emotional intimacy with your spouse, you need to share the details of your lives with each other. How easy is it to come home from work (or school, an appointment, the neighbors, or travel, etc.) and when your spouse asks how your day was, simply respond "fine." Who isn't guilty of that? But responding in that manner is missing an opportunity to connect emotionally with your spouse.
Don't shy away from giving your spouse some details. Tell them about your embarrassing moment, explain to them how you were so frustrated at your boss, confess how nervous you felt before your big presentation, update him or her on news you heard, etc. Sharing the details of your life with your spouse will help you two feel connected and in-tune with each other. It will help you feel close even if you spend a significant part of your day away from each other.
For you and your spouse to enjoy true emotional intimacy together, you need to feel safe with each other. You need to know that certain things are kept private and that you have each other's backs. You need to maintain confidence in one another and know that you can trust each other completely.
When you maintain each other's confidences you'll both be much more willing to share the deepest feelings of your heart, and to be truly open, vulnerable and transparent with each other. You'll feel comfortable opening up to each other and not hold back. In short, you'll develop emotional intimacy together. And that, my friends, will go a long way in nurturing your marriage and in leading to more satisfying and meaningful physical intimacy.
This article was originally published here. It has been republished with permission.
Aaron & April are the founders of Nurturing Marriage, a website dedicated to strengthening marriages. They enjoy playing football with their two little boys, watching sports, eating cereal late at night, and going out for frozen yogurt.