10 Aug Maintaining Intimacy with a Hectic Life
This blog post was written by Recovery Help Now’s, Leslie Kolb, MSW.
How many times in the last week have you missed what your partner said because you were checking your email, responding to a text message, or browsing social media on your phone? Or how many times have you been talking to your partner and realized he or she had inadvertently tuned you out in favor of a technological device? How many times has your smart phone rung (or chirped, or dinged, or beeped) in the middle of sex? Did you answer it?
Our modern lifestyle is filled with technological devices that, although they often make communication more efficient, can make traditional forms of human connection more difficult. Talking face to face, or at the very least over the telephone, is often abandoned for more efficient texting or emailing. In business, this can be productive; in relationships, it can be destructive. In order to have true intimacy, we must be present with one another, both physically and emotionally.
So how can we create and maintain emotional and physical intimacy in the digital age? For starters, a big part of emotional intimacy is being able to share yourself—the deepest, darkest, scariest parts of yourself—and be accepted. Often times in the beginning of a relationship, we take the leap and do this regularly. It might feel scary, but the reward outweighs the risk. It feels exhilarating to know that someone understands you and accepts you as you are.
But then life happens, and let’s face it: our modern lives are nothing short of hectic. Work, kids, school, chores, activities, community, family… the list is virtually endless. The fact is, we get busy, and we ignore our relationships. A major factor in maintaining that intimacy you created when you started your relationship is to prioritize it. We have dozens of obligations vying for our attention at any given time, but it’s important to place enough value on your relationship that it can compete with your other daily responsibilities. Make time this week to try some of the following suggestions and see if you can increase the intimacy and connection in your relationship:
a) Forget the digital multitasking when you are spending time together. Yes, there are extenuating circumstances—the babysitter might call, you have a looming deadline at work, a family member is ill and may need you. But on a normal night with no outstanding need to be dialed in, put it away. Keep the TV off, turn the music low, and focus on one another, even if only for a few minutes. Ask how your partner’s day went, and listen to the answer. You might be surprised at how good it feels to just download your feelings from the day and allow your partner to support you in that.
b) Take another few minutes at night, before you sleep, to reconnect emotionally and physically. Lay close together, snuggle, and talk. Intimacy doesn’t have to be about sex, and nonsexual physical closeness creates a sense of nonverbal intimacy. Talk more about your days, or the goal you’ve set for yourself and how you feel about working toward it. Talk about your relationship goals. Find a reason to be grateful your partner is in your life today. The quiet of the evening and the calm that comes before bedtime can help you realign with each other and attune to one another’s feelings.
c) Plan a regular date night. A date night can look different for every couple. Maybe you put the kids to bed early and share dessert together. If you can afford a babysitter or are lucky enough to have doting grandparents to help out, you can go out for dinner or ice cream. Either way, it’s not where you are but what you do. Enjoy this time to focus on each other. Reminisce about how you met, the first time you said, “I love you,” or other parts of your love story. Remembering the shared experiences that brought you to this moment can energize your relationship and reaffirm that you each have a partner who sees you, hears you, and accepts you.
d) Have sex, even if you have to schedule it. When it comes to sex, all relationships ebb and flow. But if you find you’re too busy or tired or stressed to be sexual with your partner, set a time to do so. It might not sound romantic, but you might be surprised at how much you look forward to your “appointment.” Sex is important because it helps us reconnect in a different way than talking. Having an orgasm with your partner present can increase vulnerability and closeness. And remember, sex doesn’t have to mean intercourse. Sexual behavior is intimate in itself, no matter what form it’s in.
It can be difficult in today’s world to slow down, breathe, and just be with each other. But even if you start with just one of the above suggestions, you might find that the intimacy in your relationship is revitalized and strengthened.