Physical intimacy in relationships is one of the number one issues that spark couples to come in for relationship help. Busy schedules, kids, lack of emotional intimacy, can all lead up to difficulty connecting on a physical level with your partner. When one or both partners feel as if the physical chemistry of the relationship is lacking, this can uproot your relationship. Couples easily fall into comfortable patterns that allow for this lack of physical and emotional connection to continue. Sick of feeling disconnected from your partner? Here's five tips for re-igniting that spark.
1. Plan Out Time
I know that absolutely sounds like the most un-romantic suggestion ever, when you are looking to connect with your spouse. But in the world that we live in, most couples simply do not have time for sex. Overloaded at work, screaming kids, family drama, financial issues? Sounds familiar. Some couples are simply overwhelmed with other areas of their life and often just find comfort in their spouse. Start off by prioritizing physical connection with your spouse as your number one. In the beginning, you may need to set aside time for your focus to only be on your partner, no phones, no kids, no bills, just you and your partner. Slow things down with your partner when life is moving fast around you. Recognize your partner's need to connect and feel loved in more than just an emotional manner, but a physical one as well.
2. Start Slow
Many couples have been so accustomed to not having sex, that when presented with the idea feel completely overwhelmed. You may not know where even to begin. You can't imagine even touching your partner, let alone engaging in a deeply vulnerable act with your spouse. Relax, breathe, it doesn't have to go from 0 to 10. Make time in your relationship to make small steps towards increased physical closeness, whether it be to reach out and grab your partner's hand, or just sit a smidge closer to your partner during movie night. Show your partner that you are willing to make the first step towards reducing some of your fears regarding physical intimacy.
3. Talk Directly About It
Like everything in a relationship, it is essential to talk about your concerns, openly, honestly, and most importantly, in a way that your partner can understand. This might take a little practice and may feel completely uncomfortable. Just try it on for size though. Start off by using "I statements" to let your partner know your feelings and your needs. When physical problems arise in the relationship we can often be quick to blame one partner for the disconnect. Be sure to state your feelings in a non-blaming manner and share what you need from your partner. Be mindful of where your partner is at. Perhaps your partner is over-stressed at work, show empathy for external and internal forces that may be blocking your partner from connecting. Once you've talked about it, continue to talk about it. A constant on-going dialogue is necessary as your relationship grows and changes, needs and desires change and so should your discussions.
4. Nourish Your Partner's Need For Emotional Intimacy
Partners may pull away from physical connection when they feel that their emotional needs are not being satisfied in the relationship. Since sex demands a certain level of physical and emotional vulnerability, if one partner is not feeling emotionally safe in the relationship, this can vastly inhibit the physical connection. In your discussions with your partner, learn more about their emotional needs that may be creating hesitancy in their physical needs. Work towards creating emotional safety in other aspects of the relationship first to create a platform for your spouse to feel safe to release their walls.
5. Seek Out Counseling
Yes, no one wants to go to a counselor and tell them they aren't having sex. It may seem awkward, but trust me, it's a problem that many couples struggle with at one point in their relationship or another. Seeking out additional support can help couples reconnect in a different manner and promote safety and vulnerability in the relationship that allows not only a growth in the physical aspects of the relationship, but other areas as well.
Brittany Malak, LMFT
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