How to Encourage Emotional Intimacy in Your Marriage

A newlywed couple standing close to one another with soft lighting in the background.

Intimacy is an essential part of a successful marriage. In fact, psychological studies have shown that intimacy ranks as most important among couples in long-term relationships. Now, we’re not talking about physical intimacy (although that’s important, too). We’re talking about emotional intimacy. The ability to connect deeply with your spouse’s feelings can strengthen your partnership and help you weather all of life’s challenges.

But over time, many couples feel that their emotional connection is falling by the wayside. Between work, family, and everything else on our plates, how can we find time to be emotionally intimate with one another? We have a few simple suggestions that just might help you encourage emotional intimacy between you and your husband or wife.

Make a Plan

Like most things in life worth doing, marriage—especially a marriage with a lot of emotional intimacy—is hard work. Both spouses need to be willing and able to tear down their defenses and share their feelings with one another, and that can be difficult for some people. If you want to make sure that deep, emotional conversations are a part of your marriage, you might need to plan for it.

Talk with your spouse about why you want to enhance your emotional intimacy (consider this conversation your first step) and set an intention that you both can work with. If you’re both on the same page, it will be much easier to make open discussion and intimacy a top priority.

Make Time for Each Other

A young married couple sitting on a dock by a lake in fall.

Speaking of making intimacy a priority, have you ever noticed how marriage can suffer during times of great stress? Maybe you’re working on a huge project at the office. Maybe you have a brand new baby. Maybe a family member is battling an illness. When life hands us these massive trials, it’s easy to ignore the person closest to us—after all, they’ll still be there when the dust settles, right?

Whatever your situation may be, it’s important that you make time for your spouse if you want that emotional intimacy. In fact, those stressful times just might be the best times for your intimate discussions! But you won’t have those deep conversations that bolster your relationship if you don’t make time for them. Plan a weekly date night, schedule 30 minutes each day to talk—whatever you have to do! Just make sure you carve out some time for your spouse regularly.

Create a “Safe Space”

The term “safe space” has become politically loaded in the last few years, so let me explain what I mean by it. Creating emotional intimacy with your spouse is a deeply personal thing that creates a bond between the two of you—and only the two of you.

While you may want to share your fears, frustrations, or wildest dream with your partner (and they with you), neither of you will be too keen on sharing that info with everyone. It’s important that you create a space where you two are “safe” to share your thoughts without outside distractions. Turn off your electronic devices. Make sure you aren’t interrupted by kids, parents, or friends. Dedicate this time together to each other and do your best to make sure everyone else respects this special time.

Plan Something Special

A young couple on bikes kissing.

Every relationship gets into a rut from time to time. You get used to the routine, the same conversations day after day (“How was your day?” “Good. How was yours?” “Good.”). It can be easy to live life on autopilot during these times, but that can be hugely detrimental to your emotional intimacy. How can you expect to feel intimate and connected to your partner when you’re barely connected to yourself?

One great way to restore intimacy in these situations is simply to shake up the routine. Go on a vacation, take a class together, start that DIY home project you keep talking about. These little changes will force you to pay attention to what you’re doing, which can help encourage discussion and intimacy between you and your partner.

Embrace the Everyday

Look, I get it. Sometimes a big, new adventure just isn’t in the cards. You don’t have the funds for a vacation, and you’re too tired after work to go take some couples’ cooking class downtown. Does that mean you have to give up on emotional intimacy? No! You’ll just have to do a little more work to pull yourself out of the everyday monotony.

When I was in college, one of my classmates asked our creative writing professor if writers should “write what they know” when their lives are boring. He answered, “We should not put pressure on ourselves to live interesting lives, but instead pay attention to the lives we’re living.” I think his advice also applies to couples who want more emotional intimacy.

Notice the little things your partner does that you enjoy. Pay attention to the things he or she cares about. Do what you can to make them smile every day. This extra care on both your parts will help the intimacy develop naturally, no matter how hectic life can be.

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