Intimacy is important in any relationship and it’s something built up over time. There is no magic wand in making it happen, and it takes a lot of work, especially after having kids!
A lack of intimacy is one of the most common reasons for relationship breakdowns. It can be difficult to achieve intimacy for some couples and if you have achieved intimacy, it seems to be slipping away after the arrival of a tiny human in the family. However, there are things you can do to get it back on track.
There are many reasons why we feel as though we have lost the intimacy in our relationship and each couple will have their own unique story. Here a few common themes to consider.
Lack of communication
Sometimes one partner or both simply don’t know how to express themselves and it can be hard to put into words what you’re feeling.
Unresolved emotional differences
Anger, hurt, resentment, lack of trust or feeling under appreciated are just a few examples that can affect the development of intimacy in a relationship.
Money worries,the pressure at work, concern about the kids, or just being too busy to connect with one another can also reduce the level of intimacy in relationships at different times.
When a person that has experienced a great deal of hurt as a child, it can stir up a lot of mixed emotions and they can find it hard to trust their partner regardless of how much they love them. Carrying the burden of your childhood when becoming a parent can make it difficult in establishing intimacy.
Here are some helpful steps towards getting your intimacy back on track:
- Make sure that you are positive about your relationship and tell your partner why you value them, and the relationship you have. Don’t assume that they already know. Everybody needs to be told that they are loved and appreciated.
- Plan some couple time each week so you can focus on your relationship. Creating opportunities for intimacy can be hard to do with kids, work, and other commitments so it’s important that you do it! Maybe a mini date at home (sit together at the table and enjoy a meal alone), once the kids are in bed. Maybe you can ask your parents to look after the kids so that you can go out for a bite to eat and have a glass of wine.
- It’s important to make “I” statements about how you feel. For example “I feel hurt you didn’t ask me etc” instead of “Why didn’t you ask me first?” This avoids putting your partner on the spot, and may help him/her do the same.
- Accepting that you have differences in opinion is key. When you have an argument, always try and make sure that you fight fairly. Once you have had a moment to calm down, looking into what caused you to get upset. Were you hurt, anxious or did you feel let down? Once you have made sense of this, sit down with your partner and talk about your feelings.
Intimacy is not always easy. It’s a skill set and it takes lots of practise and hard work. Being hesitant is expected, but don’t stop trying. Achieving intimacy involves an element of emotional risk especially if you open up and the other person does not react the way you expected. Trusting someone with your feelings can be scary, however, this will usually lead to them opening up to you as well. If you’re waiting for your partner to open up first, you may never achieve the level of intimacy you need and crave.
Remember you can always seek help from a relationships counsellor if you are not getting the intimacy that you need. A counsellor acts as an independent and non-judgemental guide to help couples talk things through so that you can get back on track.