How To Restore Intimacy & Connection in a Struggling Relationship
Why do couples struggle to stay intimate?
This is a question that baffled me when I started working in this field. Many women would say to me “what do I do when the feelings in a marriage are gone?” or men I work with to save their marriage would share “when a marriage is over to one person can you get it back?” I wanted to know why when the feelings in a marriage are gone can they not be restored with focus and effort. The good news is they can, the problem is 3 main things stop couples from reconnecting which I will explain in this article.
Most people if asked: “Is intimacy in a relationship important to you?” Would answer yes absolutely yes.
Yet I found individuals and couples don’t even focus on it when they think the marriage is over!
Individuals need intimacy is it one of the basic human needs according to many psychologists and wellness experts. This is supported by Anthony Robbins who studied universal human needs and in the basic 4 needs was a need for love and connection. Dr Stonsy PhD claims that intimacy is also crucial to normal human functioning and can help ward off depression, aggression, and calm anxiety.
A relationship needs intimacy, otherwise it will slowly wither and die. Sadly I see this time and time again when individuals or couples come to me with their marriage in crisis there is always a break down in intimacy. Divorce statistics support this, lack of intimacy and connection is often to blame.
What amazes me is if we all value intimacy in a relationship and recognise it as important for a lasting loving close relationship. Then why aren’t couples able to restore it in relationships once it has been broken or lost?
There are 3 main reasons I have found for why couples struggle to get back their intimate connection when a relationship breaks down. I will outline them and give you some tips.
- Men and Women View Intimacy Differently
One of key reasons why hetro-sexual couples find it hard to get intimacy back is because
men and women have differing views of what it means to be intimate. Having helped countless couples save their marriage now, I often ask men and women separately what does being intimate mean to you? On average here are the answers (of course there are always exceptions).
For men intimacy is:
- A physical connection
- Holding hands, hugging and kissing
- Physical time alone together
- Sexual intimacy
- Doing things together
For women intimacy is:
- An emotional connection
- Sharing important issues
- Listening to things about their husband’s day
- Being able to cry about emotional events and experiences together
- Being emotionally aware when feelings are hurt
- Knowing one another’s hopes and dreams
Men tend to associate intimacy as being physical, touching and sex and for women it is more about talking intimately face to face. Helen Fisher PhD claims that this is a “behavior that probably evolved millions of years ago when ancestral females spent days holding their infants up in front of them, soothing them with words. She found similar to me that Men, often regard intimacy as working or playing side by side”
Fear of intimacy play’s a huge factor in couples struggling to restore intimacy or even establish it in the first place.
Fear of getting hurt and being vulnerable can block emotional sharing and trust in a relationship.Fear of rejection can stop a relationship from being physically intimate again. Fear of failure or disappointment can prevent us from sharing our desires, dreams, hopes and expectations, so we settled for less. Fear of abandonment can prevent someone from being truly engaged. Fear of being engulfed and losing yourself in a relationship is another common reason men and women avoid intimacy. According to Hal Shorey Ph.D. Psychology today fearing intimacy and avoiding closeness in relationships is the norm for about 17% of adults in Western cultures.
Whilst we have these fears most marriage counsellors don’t address these fears, they will suggest “talking about your problems over and over again” which often ignites more fear. Which is why I always avoid having a couple sit together and go over the past problems, to save relationships you need to be focusing on establishing the connection, focusing on the future. What works is practical guidance and support on how to move forward and be intimate despite fears.
- 7 Core Areas of Intimacy
Many of us stick with our own blinded view of intimacy and fail to recognise that for a lasting, fulfilling and close relationship we need more than one type of intimacy to be present.
Here are the 7 types of intimacy I have identified in the most successful marriages.
Self-Intimacy – In order to have a positive close relationship, we need to have a good relationship with our self; to know what makes us happy, what we desire in a relationship and to know ourselves deeply. This is key as it enables us to overcome any blockages or fears to intimacy. It starts with self-care
Emotional Intimacy – expressing from your heart your true desires and pains, learning to be vulnerable, this helps you to connect like never before
Conflict Intimacy – Being able to stay connected while exploring differences is key to a healthy relationship. It is all about RESPECT! Remaining respectful during any disagreements.
Affection Intimacy – showing you care by words, physical touch of a non sexual nature, thoughtful gifts
Sexual Intimacy – opening up intimately, feeling safe, desired and cherished
Dream Intimacy – couples who have shared dreams and support each other reach their own individual goals and dreams are able to maintain connection and remain closer
As you can see there are many different factors that contribute to a deep connection and intimate relationship and when I support couples to reconnect, it is important to look at all aspects.
Each month I am opening 2 slots for individuals or couples that want to increase their intimacy to book a free 45 minute ultimate connector consultation. Where I will give simple tips to increase your intimacy and connection, even if you are thinking the feelings in the marriage are gone or your husband or wife has said the marriage is over.
To book one of the free ultimate connector consultations email me with the subject title free ultimate connector consultation and if available I will share the link on how to book, if not I will put you on the list for the following month. firstname.lastname@example.org
I hope this has been useful and you have some ideas for how you can increase your connection.
From my heart to yours, Nicola
P.S If you haven’t already read the 7 Secrets to Saving Your Marriage – click here to get your FREE Report https://training.nicolabeer.com/7-secrets-to-saving-your-marriage/
P.PS Contact me today to book your free 45-minute Ultimate Connector Consultation