Given the recent statistics about divorce and relationships, it would appear that being in a relationship involves a lot of hard work and effort. What ever happened to the happy Hollywood ending we all strive to reach?
The fact is relationships do take a lot of hard work. These efforts however don’t have to be difficult and tend to pay off exponentially. After the honeymoon stage, when all is not new anymore but rather familiar, we tend to take the other person for granted and neglect to invest ourselves in increasing intimacy.
David Schnarch, world-renown sex and marital therapist, once said “Cellulite and sexual potential are highly correlated.” What he meant by this statement is that the older a couple grows together, the greater the intimacy and the better the sex. In fact, research shows that intimacy and sexual pleasure are potentially better at 50-60 years of age. This is accounted by the quality of intimacy that can be cultivated with maturity: To feel really known by your partner, and continuing to get to know each other on a higher level.
Here then, are ten tips that can help strengthen a relationship by increasing intimacy:
- Curiosity: Be curious about your partner (ask them how their day went, listen, and ask questions).
- Appreciate them: Let them know you appreciate them (share a gratitude journal with them about the things you appreciate about them).
- Open up: Let them become your best friend (share your dreams, goals, fears and insecurities)
- Rituals: Set up routine rituals (plan a romantic date once a month, sign up for an activity together).
- Show affection: Hug each other, kiss, and hold hands. These little attentions can say what words often can’t.
- Compliments: Giving a compliment is an easy way to make someone feel special. Mark Twain once said “I can live for two months on a good compliment.”
- Celebrate positive events together: When one partner celebrates a positive event (raise, promotion, award, personal goal, etc.) both partners should celebrate it together. This creates a sense of togetherness and intimacy.
- Constructive conflict: When interpersonal conflict arises between partners, challenge the behaviour instead of attacking the person (“I don’t like it when you…” instead of “You’re such a…”) Doing so enables the conflict to allow communication and growth.
- Little attentions: Use your imagination to create little ways of showing you care (leave a love note in a strategic place, a loving message on the answering machine, etc.)
- Make Valentine’s Day everyday: Don’t wait for February the 14th to show you care by buying flowers or a romantic evening. Make these little efforts throughout the year by doing one of these suggestions and watch your relationship flourish.