Couples often seek out my relationship help or marriage advice because of difficulties with intimacy—they no longer feel a deep emotional connection with their spouse/partner.
Why are so many couples struggling with emotional intimacy?
In order to experience the gifts of emotional intimacy, you need to share the deepest parts of yourself with your partner while maintaining a separate sense of self (without losing your identity). This balancing act isn't always easy, and there may be times when it feels like you've given so much of yourself that you feel lost or that the old you is nowhere to be found.
A deep emotional connection needs to include two separate individuals with healthy boundaries so that blending of two souls can occur (the formation of the "we" that becomes the relationship).
Relationship help: How to deepen Intimacy
1. Setting out on new adventures with your partner because s/he matters to you;
2. Temporarily placing your needs on hold from time to time in order to make your spouse or partner a priority;
3. Leaving your "self" (the recognizable you) at times in order to step into your partner's emotional world;
4. Re-surfacing as a separate, autonomous individual after intense moments of connection;
5. Challenging and bringing out the best in each other.
This type of intimacy can only survive in the fertile soil of trust, respect and compassion.
~Trust sends the message that you will never intentionally embarrass or shame each other and that you will validate and honor each other's essence and what is shared.
~Respect sends the message that you value one another, and this comes through in how you speak and react to your partner. It's simple: speaking respectfully shows you respect each other.
~Compassion infuses your relationship with tenderness and kindness. It creates a safe atmosphere that feeds emotional intimacy and strengthens the bond that makes your relationship unique and special.
The trust, respect and compassion triad is something couples can easily lose sight of, especially during times of stress. The goal is to be mindful of when your relationship is veering off course and return to these three relationship essentials when they are lacking.
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Richard Nicastro, Ph.D. is a psychologist and relationship coach with fifteen years experience helping individuals and couples live more fulfilling lives. His relationship advice has appeared on television, radio and national magazines.