It is an absolute human certainty that no one can know his own beauty or perceive a sense of his own worth until it has been reflected back to him in the mirror of another loving, caring human being.
~ John Joseph Powell, The Secret of Staying in Love
Though we might desire greater intimacy in our love relationship, most of us aren’t really sure how to create it. Intimacy—that special closeness and connection with another, where we feel safe, valued and supported—is not guaranteed. Deep, gratifying intimacy relies on our ongoing willingness to invest time and energy in building and sustaining it.
Developing intimacy with another can seem complex, but it flourishes easily in the presence of simple qualities like honesty, selflessness, commitment and humility. On the other hand, traits such as lack of self-responsibility and needing to be right or in control, can completely block its growth.
In our busy lives filled with all kinds of problems and distractions, how can we strengthen and protect that precious island of intimacy with our loved one? As a start, consider the following:
1. Start intimacy outside of the bedroom.
Without certain behaviors or words, how can your partner know that you seek connection with them at the deepest level? Do you hold their hand on a regular basis? Do you pull them over for a kiss now and then? How about leaving them a note saying how much you love them, and why?
Though these gestures may seem trivial or unnecessary, especially to longtime couples, do not discount their importance. We are humans who have needs, and at times feel insecure and vulnerable. Ongoing reminders of how much each of you is valued by the other can make all the difference in your relationship, both inside and outside the bedroom.
Exercise your creativity, and find different ways to communicate to your spouse that they are still the one you desire.
2. Book regular togetherness time.
You’ve probably heard the relationship advice, "Schedule time for each other." When it comes to being physically intimate, these words have never been more relevant. Be aware that women and men are quite different when it comes to sex. Men can usually be turned on instantly, like a microwave, just by pressing the right buttons. Women, however, are closer to ovens, and need to warm up before they’re able to cook!
For the most part, women require time to wind down before they can focus on their partner. Trying to juggle classes or jobs, kids, the house and more can make it difficult to relax on a time crunch. That’s why it’s helpful to set aside a chunk of time, even if it’s just an hour, to focus on your significant other. During this period, consciously set aside concerns of the day and concentrate on giving your partner and relationship the attention they need and deserve.
3. Get naked.
Although you might be laughing, psychological studies show that going back to Adam-‘n-Eve basics increases couples’ sexual desire for one another.
What this means is that it’s beneficial to hold each other while you’re both in the buff. Reportedly, doing this not only stimulates the body’s production of oxytocin (known as the "love hormone” due to its brain association with empathy, sex, trust and bonding), but it increases positive body image and self-esteem.
Some of us tend to be a bit modest and shy about being naked, but the payoff from unabashedly sharing nakedness with your partner is worth investing some practice into this organic aphrodisiac.
4. Pamper yourself.
As productive, busy women, we tend to take on the world, and then some. Rocking black leggings, oversized t-shirts, and hair tossed back in a scrungy, we work at jobs, cook and clean, parent, volunteer, maintain friendships and more. A cape and boots would better suit our Superwoman lifestyles!
Let’s not forget, however, that we can be sensual, too. It may be time to reconnect with the "spouse" and "lover" parts of us. Slow down enough to focus on who you are, and who God made you to be. How about shaving those winter legs, or trying out a smart, new hairstyle? Wear an outfit or accessory that makes you feel confident, like some cute heels or sizzling lingerie. Of course, these things aren’t a requirement for feeling good about yourself or sexy, but pampering yourself demonstrates positive attitudes of self-worth and self-esteem.
Another benefit of the confidence you gain from a bit of extra self-care is that you’re more relaxed, self-assured, and ready when it’s time for sexual intimacy with your partner.
5. Connect spiritually with your partner.
One of the greatest gifts of intimacy is being able to share with another the deepest level of our being—our spirit. When was the last time you really opened up your innermost feelings, beliefs, and hopes to your partner? Ever shared with him or her your thoughts on God, the universe, your life purpose? What about praying together?
Coming together spiritually is both a facilitator of intimacy and one of its most satisfying rewards. Although it can be scary to open up to another in this way, spiritual connection completes a healthy, rich bond of understanding, respect and love that can withstand life’s inevitable challenges. What’s more, it lays the groundwork for fearless, gratifying exploration of the full range of your physical and emotional selves.
Intimacy can be wonderful…let it permeate every part of your being.