There’s a reason that you hear tell of the honeymoon phase in a marriage or relationship—and that there’s a more challenging period to come after. Inevitably, every marriage can use a boost to its levels of intimacy, both physical and otherwise.
However, it isn’t always clear how to do just that. Sometimes, you even need a third party to help you see your positions more clearly. It can help to understand the different types of intimacy and better recognize the ways they work together. Then, you can craft an increasingly healthy relationship with a newfound connection and spark, whether on your own or with an experienced marriage counselor who is a good fit for the couple counseling or individual therapy you and your spouse need.
Types of Intimacy
Physical intimacy is the form that most often comes to mind in terms of relationship advice. It’s not the only kind that impacts a relationship, though. Depending on the relationship expert you consult, you’ll find that there are quite a few different types of intimacy. But, no matter your sexual orientation, gender identity, cultural background, or reason for seeking relationship counseling, you and your husband, wife, or spouse should be aware of each type.
These are commonly broken down into categories, including physical, sexual, emotional, spiritual, intellectual, and more. Each of these qualities or subcategories can face its own blocks—and their own benefits when fostered more carefully. Through counseling, therapy sessions, or working together one-on-one, you can build these connections in new ways, so long as you and your partner have a willingness to put in the effort.
Creating Physical and Holistic Intimacy
Ideally, each of these types of intimacy will be curated in a way that creates a holistic or all-encompassing affection that will last for a long time. You and your spouse need physical intimacy, of course, but you must balance all of these different types for the most positive results.
If you aren’t sure of what areas you and your partner could approach in a better way, a good therapist can guide you through relationship counseling and help you understand your own degree of intimacy. Even if you aren’t facing relationship problems that you feel need marital therapy, a referral to marriage or family therapy sessions can prove beneficial. All couples experience conflict, and marital counseling can help you tackle struggles from loneliness to substance abuse from your very first session. The right therapist will create a safe space for you and your partner to find common ground and better understand one another’s needs.
As a first step, though, focusing on physical intimacy is a good way to combat typical relationship issues while defusing feelings of disconnection and resentment. So, those looking to strengthen their relationship will often turn to this aspect, in particular. Fortunately, there are many ways a married couple can work to increase this element of their relationship.
1. Emphasize honesty.
Research shows that honesty is a crucial component in intimacy, be it physical or otherwise. It’s worth noting, too, that not all expectations of honesty will be expressed verbally. Nevertheless, these unspoken promises are often a factor in the marital problems that lead couples to this struggle in the first place.
In some instances, you can even turn to honesty as a form of intimacy in its own right, particularly as a sort of subcategory to an emotional interpretation. For example, consider the difficult time that inevitably faces a couple in the face of infidelity. By definition, this involves inherent dishonesty. Without this crucial component, the connection between even a young couple that’s otherwise happy will find this is the hardest part of building a more intimate relationship.
This is especially critical for those who, no matter what year of marriage they’re in, are struggling in the aftermath of infidelity or another betrayal. In these instances, marriage counseling can provide the insight and positive results that honesty has to offer. A family therapist or couples counselor can help you build a more honest connection. However, it’s worth noting that issues like emotional or physical abuse, where one or more partners are in danger, are better suited to other methods, preserving the individual’s safety.
2. Build greater trust.
Honesty and trust go hand-in-hand, but neither is the end-all, be-all; you and your spouse need both to have a healthy relationship. However, honesty, when expressed completely, can lead to greater feelings of trust. From your sex life to your most profound conversations, trust is an integral part of your marriage.
Ideally, you and your partner work on building trust throughout the process of building your relationship. Then, through tension and dissatisfaction, that trust will serve as the resilience that keeps your relationship together.
A couple can build trust in many ways and may need to strengthen it for an array of different reasons. In any case, it’s crucial for you and your spouse to speak honestly and stay true to your word, respect one another, and work to express your feelings in a clear, comprehensible way.
3. Communicate more clearly.
Struggling with communication skills is one of the most common reasons you and your spouse turn to couple counseling. However, it’s not solely in the face of professional help that communication requires extra attention.
Through counseling sessions and one form of therapy or another, your couples therapist can help you and your spouse communicate in an effective manner. Whether you set goals or work through unresolved conflicts and disagreements, clear communication is the solution to many relationship issues.
Without it, you’ll inevitably face more serious issues. In a worst-case scenario, you and your spouse may find that even couples therapy can’t rebuild the kind of relationship you ultimately want to have. However, proper communication is a great way to ensure you’re on the same page, avoiding that risk in the first place,
4. Maintain healthy boundaries.
A healthy relationship, naturally, depends upon a deep connection between the couple. Even a connection this deep, though, requires boundaries. But, unfortunately, even marriages can foster exploitation and manipulation without proper boundaries.
However, when set and maintained, these boundaries can instead bring about feelings of empathy and compassion, strengthening your relationship and marital satisfaction. These don’t have to be around profound concepts, like finances and the intricacies of your romantic relationship, either. You and your S.O. can set boundaries regarding little things, which can go an equally long way.
Think of it this way: you and your best friend would build your relationship on feelings of openness and the reciprocal role of confidant. At its core, any long-term relationship should be based on feelings of friendship. So, the best relationship advice you’ll find in couples or marriage therapy is to spend the rest of your life with your best friend, making your partner feel like the best version of themself with gratitude, openness, and, most importantly, true love.
To make your relationship work, you’ll need to put in time and effort every single day to maintain a successful relationship. Both your own needs and those of the right partner should be priorities.
In trying to get your troubled relationship back on track, taking a new approach to physical intimacy can be an essential first step to a stronger emotional bond. Whether you work with a counselor or try to bypass these struggles on your own, the most important thing is that you and your partner come through this process sharing a happy relationship once again.