11 Ways To Develop Strong Emotional Intimacy So Your Marriage Never Ends

Reconnecting with your partner is so much more than just physical.

couple sitting on kitchen floor, drinking fizkes / Shutterstock

What if I told you that by not having sex you can actually increase the intimacy in your relationship?

You're probably thinking, Hold on a minute! How do you get more intimate than having sex? Or, Doesn’t no sex mean trouble in paradise?

Sex and intimacy are two very different things, and one is more influential than the other in creating long-term relationship success and keeping you happy as a couple long after the honeymoon phase has ended.


After the initial hot-and-heavy stage that every couple experiences — when you actually shower, shave, and brush your teeth before each date — things naturally cool off a bit. It’s the stage where you don't need to have sex to feel close and connected.


Some people know they have a “marriage material” partner when they have just as much fun being silly in sweatpants together as when it gets hot and heavy in the bedroom.

In my relationship, it was laying in bed talking about past experiences, taking walks discussing our core values, snuggling on the couch sharing future dreams that formed the bond that is now my happy marriage.

These conversations and interactions continue on a daily basis. Great sex at a frequency that satisfies both partners is important for a successful relationship, but it's not the foundation. Emotional intimacy is the key to relational happiness.

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Libidos can stabilize after you’ve been dating a while and you may not have sex every time you see each other like you used to. But you’ll find that you can still feel attractive and attracted, through genuine conversation.

It creates an intense emotional bond. Your sexual desire is still very much alive, and it's surprising to find that being totally enthralled and enamored with each other is possible without sex.

The thing is, not everyone agrees with the stereotypical belief that sex is the most important aspect of a relationship. In fact, many are truly looking for an honest connection outside of the bedroom. Those who are in successful and happy relationships have likely realized the value of ongoing intimacy.

Couples who lack both emotional and physical intimacy — admiring, appreciating, touching, kissing, caressing, holding, hugging — are at risk. Tune into your relationship dynamic and begin to notice if, on days and dates where sex isn’t happening, you continue to grow and connect as partners.


Evaluate your feelings about your partner once you've surpassed the blissful honeymoon stage.

  • Honestly reflect, and ask yourself on a scale of 1 to 10, what number would you rate your current relationship satisfaction?
  • Next, identify areas (examples are companionship, communication, quality time, and affection) that are lacking.
  • Then, pick an appropriate, stress-free time to engage your partner in a non-defensive, open discussion about ways in which you can meet each other’s identified needs.

If you have stopped having sex and the intimacy is lacking, you have likely experienced major relationship dissatisfaction.

If you’re feeling totally disconnected, hopping into the sack may sound like a huge turn-off, especially for those who tend to want their emotional needs met before sex. The good news is that with the following tips, you can steer your relationship in a more positive direction.

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How to build physical and emotional intimacy and help you reconnect with the one you love:

1. Take a nightly stroll around the block, hand in hand.

2. Give each other a ten-minute massage before bed.

3. Sit in a park on a shared towel so you’re forced to cozy up.

4. Send a flirtatious text message that builds anticipation, or one that just lets your partner know you're thinking about him/her.

5. Lay in bed for twenty minutes of pillow talk when you first get home from work, before total exhaustion kicks in.

6. Reminisce about your first date or the first time you slept together.

7. Cook dinner while dancing to music around the kitchen.

8. Spend four uninterrupted minutes staring into each other’s eyes without talking, then reflect on the experience.

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9. Exercise together — couples who sweat together stay together.

10. Make out like you did in the beginning and watch the butterflies flutter back.

11. Every night, express gratitude for one thing your partner did that day — no matter how small the act (examples are doing the dishes, grocery shopping, sending a loving text, planning a vacation, and a kiss goodbye that morning).

Although intimacy creates chemistry, it’s not rocket science! Tell your partner what attracts you to them. It’s amazing what an arm around each other, a hand on a thigh underneath the table, or a lingering hug hello can do.

Share fond memories and discuss the future you are looking forward to having together. Intimacy needs TLC.

Communication is obviously an essential pillar of intimacy. Ultimately, you must communicate your needs if they're not being met because your partner isn't a mind reader. Along with communication comes listening.


When is the last time you gave each other undivided attention — just the two of you in the present moment, making eye contact and conversing without simultaneously scrolling through your phone, watching TV, or chasing after your kids?

Creating intimacy outside of the bedroom will help you connect inside the bedroom. It’s that simple! If a dry spell is wreaking havoc on your relationship, speak up and take action to reconnect.

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Samantha Burns, LMHC is a Relationship Counselor and Dating Coach who works with individuals and couples to create the love lives they deserve and desire. She has appeared on the Today Show, Huffington Post, Brides, Women's Health, and more.