Marriages without emotional intimacy are more prone to infidelity, reveals an article, "Those who avoid emotional intimacy more likely to cheat," published in 2008 in the "Montreal Gazette." Whether you’re a newlywed or approaching your silver anniversary, emotional intimacy is important to maintain throughout marriage. It’s no easy feat, but with two dedicated participants, you can achieve emotional intimacy to strengthen your marriage.
Commit to creating emotional intimacy. Creating emotional intimacy is an ongoing process and both parties must be committed to working on building and growing emotional intimacy in the marriage, according to an interview with Edel Walsh, Registered Professional Counselor and Certified Life Coach, on LoveDoneWell.com. It’s important that you model the behavior you would like to see your partner reciprocate in the marriage, she explains.
Be self-aware and learn to love yourself first. Walsh describes emotional intimacy as being in tune with your feelings and thoughts, separate from those of your partner, and being able to share them with him. In order to have a healthy relationship as a couple, both individuals must be healthy. “You have to learn to become a self-reference -- focusing on being able to be in a relationship emotionally with yourself and then be in a relationship with another person," Walsh says.
Open up and let your spouse in. Vulnerability is a part of emotional intimacy, according to “Understanding Emotional Intimacy: A Review of Conceptualization, Assessment and the Role of Gender,” by A. Celeste Gaia, published in the June 2002 issue of “International Social Science Review." But it’s not enough for just one person to be vulnerable. To create the trust needed for emotional intimacy, both parties must take down their walls. It might be easier for one partner than the other. For example, according to Gaia’s article, husbands face more social pressure to resist being vulnerable.
Learn to communicate successfully. A March 2005 study published by the “Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology" found that couples who were able to properly communicate their emotions with each other had a stronger marriage because it improved intimacy. Couples need to learn the difference between just talking about their feelings and properly expressing them to their partner, which involves focusing on your own feelings when expressing yourself and not attacking your spouse.
Schedule a weekly date night with your partner. Between work and kids, life can become hectic and quality time with your spouse can fall lower on the list of priorities. “If you’re not having date night, emotional intimacy is going to fall away,” Walsh says. “The most important thing to encourage emotional intimacy, promote it and then maintain it is to insist on one night a week when you and your partner are going to be alone, without the kids.”
Prioritize physical intimacy, because physical intimacy and emotional intimacy are connected. Physical intimacy is important in a marriage, but it doesn’t have to be exclusive to sex. It can include cuddling, massaging, caressing or hand-holding. According to a 2012 study published in the “International Journal of Impotence Research,” men and women who experienced problems with sexual arousal were more likely to be sexually satisfied if their relationship contained emotional intimacy. “Building up an emotionally intimate sex life is hugely important for couples, especially if they have kids or there’s been betrayal or some kind of distance in the relationship,” Walsh explains. “If the physical intimacy has gone in the relationship, the couple will need some help to get it back.”