A loving connection is the bedrock of a committed relationship—all couples are trying to find ways to remain emotionally close to one another as they navigate the complexities of life. When people feel deeply connected to their partners, they often describe feeling "complete," "whole" or fully "understood" by their partners. This is one of the remarkable gifts that only intimacy can bring.

Jane, a fifty-three-year-old flight attendant, describes the emotional connection she shares with her husband:

"It's like we're dancing to our favorite song. You know how a song you love makes you feel really alive? When things are going well, our steps are in tune and I can almost anticipate my husband's next move and he can anticipate mine. This lifts me up in ways I can't fully explain."

Dancing is the perfect metaphor to describe intimacy. It involves being in sync with each other, attuned to the needs and emotional rhythms of your partner.

Let's look at ways to nurture intimacy.

5 key ingredients to keep your relationship dance in top form and you and your partner in step:

1. Effectively communicating your needs—letting your partner know what works and doesn't, what is helpful and unhelpful.

Healthy communication needs to exist alongside healthy and realistic expectations about your partner. If you expect your partner to meet all your needs, or to intuit your needs without direct communication, you are setting the stage for frustration. Focus on communicating what you need, rather than attacking your partner when s/he fails to meet your needs.

2. The ability to compromise and accept the differences that exist between you and your partner.

No matter how attuned you and your partner are to each other's needs and desires, the fact that you are separate beings will be felt in your relationship (e.g., you might have different ways of handling stress or you may express your needs differently). When you and your partner accept the inherent differences that will always exist between two people, you create a relationship atmosphere that allows each other's essence and uniqueness to unfold.

3. The ability to forgive your partner.

Forgiveness plays an important role in your marriage or relationship. Even with the best intentions, partners end up hurting each other. This is heightened when you bring the most vulnerable and raw parts of yourself into the relationship—intimacy requires this level of emotional exposure. Without the ability to forgive your partner for his/her blunders and relationship missteps, resentments build. There is no greater obstacle to intimacy than pent-up grievances. When forgiveness is part of your relationship terrain, space is created for the missteps that are inevitable. This gives you the freedom to be yourself—an imperfect human who is trying his/her best to be a loving partner.

4. Affirming each other's strengths and vulnerabilities.

When your and your partner affirm each other, your uniqueness is recognized and appreciated. Marriages and relationships that include affirmations are more robust. Consider for a moment how you feel when your partner acknowledges your victories as well as when s/he is compassionate and supportive when you feel insecure. Couples often report greater levels of intimacy when meaningful affirmations are a regular part of their relationship.

5. Be a consistent and reliable presence for your partner.

Trust is the foundation of intimacy and if you want to build a stronger connection with your partner, you need to follow through on your word. Don't make promises you can't keep. Obviously we all mess up now and then, but repeatedly failing to be a responsible partner will only erode the foundation of intimacy. When you do what you said you were going to do, and you respond to your partner in a consistent way, the dance of intimacy is likely to proceed smoothly.

Remember, even the best dancers (like the best relationships) fall out of step with each other, and if you're like most people, your relationship dance will stumble from time to time. Disagreements, misunderstandings and life's stresses may drive wedges between you and your partner, temporarily weakening your connection.

All marriages and relationships involve cycles of closeness and distance, intimacy and loneliness. You will only set yourself up for disappointment if you assume that you should always feel intensely connected with your partner. Even "soul-mates" clumsily step on each other's feet.

When your relationship dance falls out of step (which it will), try to remember the following:

~It is perfectly normal that you and your partner bounce between connection and disconnection.

~As long as you both give your relationship the attention it deserves, these missteps will be temporary.

~During moments of disconnection, give each other the time needed to regain your emotional footing.

~When you're both ready, work toward understanding why these missteps occurred.

Problems can arise when you allow the natural disconnections that occur in your marriage or relationship to linger indefinitely. Don't use the frequency of these normal relationship tangles as a diagnostic tool for your relationship, but instead use the fact that you and your partner are committed to working on repairing these natural missteps as a sign of a strong union. So whether you have two left feet or are a skilled dancer, learn to appreciate and enjoy the dance of intimacy as it unfolds in your relationship.

To discover other ways to create a deeper, more intimate relationship visit http://StrengthenYourRelationship.com/ and sign up for Dr. Nicastro’s free Relationship Toolbox Newsletter.

As a bonus, you will receive the popular free reports: "The four mindsets that can topple your relationship" and "Relationship self-defense: Control the way you argue…before your arguments control you."

Author's Bio: 

Richard Nicastro, Ph.D. is a psychologist and relationship coach who is passionate about helping couples protect the sanctuary of their relationship. Rich and his wife founded LifeTalk Coaching, an internet-based coaching business that helps couples strengthen their relationships.

Additional Resources covering Intimacy can be found at:

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Richard Nicastro, the Official Guide To Intimacy