Tag Archives: increasing intimacy

How Do You Define Intimacy?

What is conjured up in your mind when you hear the word “intimacy”? Chances are the word intimacy has different connotations to you depending on your gender. I’ve read some surveys that suggest women tend to think of the emotional side of intimacy, and men tend to think of physical intimacy. The book 13 Keys to Unlocking Intimacy in Your Marriage by Tony and Alisa DiLorenzo discusses six types of intimacy and how you can achieve them all. I’ve enjoyed their blog, One Extraordinary Marriage for some time; check it out.

I would have been hard pressed to come up with all these types, but I agree they are all important to a strong marriage:

  • Emotional Intimacy (sharing feelings, thoughts, desires)
  • Intellectual Intimacy (common life goals, open communication, mutual understanding)
  • Spiritual Intimacy (shared religious beliefs and observed religious practices)
  • Recreational Intimacy (having fun together and sharing quality time)
  • Financial Intimacy (honesty about all money matters)
  • Physical Intimacy (all physical touch from holding hands to sex)

The advice Alisa and Tony give about how they achieved these six types of intimacy includes many of their mistakes along their journey, from addiction to pornography to finding themselves $50,000 in debt. In that regard, they don’t set themselves up as the perfect couple, but rather a couple who is hoping others can learn from some of their early relationship errors. 

Tony and Alisa offer useful tips from setting boundaries with your parents to negotiating how to spend free time in a way you will both enjoy. The book offers the male and female perspectives on numerous topics, so both genders of readers can relate. It also provides a section for answering questions about your own relationship, which can foster a discussion between you and your spouse. Whether you are young in your marriage or need to revisit some of the positive aspects you used to enjoy, these concepts are key to an enjoyable relationship.

If you’re interested in learning more about these six types of intimacy and how to unlock their potential, you can find the ebook here. (They offer a traditional book, audio book or eBook formats.) Tony also offers an online course called Blow Up My Marriage to help boost your marriage by focusing on your strengths instead of your weaknesses.

My feeling is you can send your marriage into a downward spiral if you spend all your time picking apart your weaknesses and focusing on your perpetual conflicts. Every relationship has these. Instead, focus on what you love about your spouse and how you can grow from there. That is not to say that we don’t all have room to improve. Just don’t tear each other down every day, or you may lose that “lovin’ feeling.”

Fess up, what kind of intimacy did you think of when you read the headline?

Photo Credit: ©PhotoXpress.com

Love-Building Exercises Part II

I hope you had a chance to try the three love-building techniques  from the last post, used to help increase emotional intimacy with your partner. Here are some other suggestions by Robert Epstein, PhD, psychologist and researcher. For more information on Epstein’s upcoming book, visit Making Love Book.

4. “Fall” in love or the trust exercise. Let yourself fall into the arms of your partner. Trade places. Repeat a few times. This activity helps increase feelings of vulnerability, even in strangers.

5. Share Secrets. You and your partner write down a deep secret then swap and discuss. Repeat if you like. Sharing secrets also increases vulnerable feelings and leads to a heightened sense of intimacy.

6. Mind-Reading Game. Think about a thought you want to convey, and write it down. Then, try to convey it silently while he or she guesses. If she can’t guess, reveal the answer, then switch.

7. Let Me In. This is an exercise of invading the other’s personal space, starting about four feet away, and moving closer every 10 seconds or so for a few minutes. Get as close as you can without touching. (I say, at the end of the exercise, if you feel like touching, go for it.)

8. Love Aura. Place your palms close together—but not touching—for several minutes. Feel the heat and energy.

As you can tell, all these exercises make a couple feel physically or emotionally closer (or both). I would add that any discussion that shares your deepest dreams or fears would also fall into this category. I think the reason these are successful is that we spend so much of our day simply accomplishing tasks and perhaps sharing an activity, such as watching a TV show. How often do we truly interact in a new and different way?

Plan an adventure, even if it’s just a treasure hunt in your own house with clues at each step. Learn a skill together. I think it would be fun to learn a language together then visit the country that speaks that language. You could even get kids involved in this activity. If you can’t afford to travel, plan an “Italian Night” or “Parisian Night” at home with decorations and food, and speak only that language.

One of the couples I interviewed shared when their kids are at summer camp, they like to go on long bike rides where they purposely get lost together. They also enjoy board games in the back yard. This has helped keep their relationship fresh after overcoming a life-threatening cancer (her) and an early drug addiction (him). Some couples may prefer reading a book together or taking a cooking class together.

What was your favorite technique, or were you too uncomfortable to try them? What activity are you planning to increase that loving feeling?

Love-Building Exercises Part I

Is it possible to increase your closeness or feelings of love by using scientifically tested techniques? Robert Epstein, PhD, thinks so. “There is a definite fix for our poor performance in romantic relationships,” he says. The psychologist and longtime researcher is writing a book on how people can learn to love. He recently shared some proven techniques for deliberately building emotional intimacy in a January/February 2010 magazine article for Scientific American.

Epstein says so many marriages fail in large part because we have poor skills for maintaining relationships and “highly unrealistic expectations.” He warns that physical attraction is sometimes confused with love, creating unsuitable unions. So, be careful with whom you share these techniques!

Epstein studied other researchers’ results on love builders and carried out some of his own. He plans to teach others how to use what is known about how people learn to love one another. The key to many of his recommended strategies is that they increase feelings of vulnerability, and that increases intimacy levels. Other intimacy builders include sharing adventures, secrets, personal space and jokes.

Here are the first three techniques. I’ll try them if you will. Maybe plan one of these activities on a date night, and let me know how it works for you. Keep an open mind. I’ll provide some of his other suggestions in a future post.

1. Two as One. Embrace each other gently. Begin to sense your partner’s breathing and gradually try to synchronize your breathing with his or hers. Epstein says after a few minutes, you may start to feel as if you have merged.

2. Soul Gazing. He reports excellent results with this technique, even with perfect strangers. One caveat is it must be mutual gazing; staring at someone doesn’t count! Stand or sit about two feet apart. Look deeply into each other’s eyes, trying to look at the very core of your beings. Do this for about two minutes, and discuss what you saw.

3. Monkey Love. Sit or stand fairly close to one another, then start moving your hands, arms, and legs any way you like—but in a fashion that perfectly imitates your partner. Epstein calls this fun and challenging.

See Part II with more techniques.

Share your experience if you are brave enough to try these. What do you think about using psychological techniques to increase your love and intimacy? Do you believe they work? Have you tried them?