A good marriage has the attributes of friendship. There’s someone to zip your dress, give an opinion about what tie goes with the jacket, get aspirin for your headache, or laugh at your jokes. Good stuff. But what sustains a marriage and makes it GREAT is Emotional Intimacy. That’s what makes living together on a day-to-day basis, with all its ups and downs, easy and comfortable and why it’s important for every couple to have intimacy rituals that can be practiced regularly, even daily.
No, I don’t mean candles, heated massage oil, and the hot tub. Those are great—for sexual intimacy. But let’s not confuse physical intimacy with emotional intimacy. In the falling-in-love fireworks stage of your relationship, intimacy equaled SEX! But once you’ve settled into your nest, there’s a lawn to be mowed, the cat has to go to the vet, kids need chauffeuring or help with homework, the car breaks down, the toilet backs up, one of you loses a job, gets sick, or has an argument with a friend. All of that makes you too tired to think, let alone jump each other’s bones.
When the now-less-frequent opportunity for sex presents itself, there will be times when you really do have a headache, are too irritated by your mouthy teen-ager’s attitude, have an early flight to catch, or for whatever reason you’re just not in the mood. You cannot rely on sex to provide the intimacy you need to have a great relationship. Yes, a good sex life is important, but without emotional intimacy, your marriage is likely to wither and die no matter how great the sex may be.
The frazzle of everyday life can play havoc with emotional intimacy. That’s why it’s a good idea to have Intimacy rituals. They don’t have to be complicated or take a big chunk of time and can even be part of a daily chore or event. For example:
Turn that good-bye peck into a 20-second kiss.
Make your hello hug a 60-second hug.
Fold the laundry together and while you do, talk to each other.
Meet for lunch.
Before turning out the lights, take a moment to tell each other the best part of your day.
Start every Saturday morning by taking a walk down memory lane. Relive a fun, exciting, sexy, sweet, or laugh-until-we-cried time together.
Cook dinner together.
Here’s what Hubby Dale and I do. At the beginning of the day, Dale sits in the bathroom and chats with me while I get dressed for the office. We don’t talk about anything special, we’re just together for a few minutes before we go our separate ways. We come back together over dinner. We don’t answer the phone and the TV is off. We talk about current events or Dale’s trip to the grocery store where he ran into a friend, we chuckle over something cute a grandchild said, we plan a dinner party, or revisit a favorite memory. An eavesdropper would find it mundane, but for us, it’s a reconnection after being apart all day.
For you, an intimacy ritual might be calling each other on your lunch hour and taking 15 minutes to catch up on your day, doing an evening crossword puzzle, playing dominoes, or turning off the TV, snuggling and chatting for 20 minutes before going to sleep.
Converting an everyday event into an intimacy ritual may require nothing more than a change in how you view that activity. Finding the time may be as easy as doing together what one usually does alone. Bathing the baby, pulling weeds, grocery shopping, preparing the evening meal, washing the cars, etc., are all opportunities for the kind of togetherness that fosters emotional intimacy. You just need the right state of mind.
Give it a try and see how much closer you will be.