Intimacy Blueprint For Couples Relationship Expert Richard Heller Explains The Seven Areas Of Intimacy
By Rich Heller
Intimacy is the holy grail of relationships. While often couples can slip into becoming roommates or living parallel lives, intimacy is our natural state. Reintroducing intimacy into the mix is the most surefire way to breathe greater life into your marriage.
You meet someone, and for a while, it’s all about the two of you and “love.” “In love” is super intimate. In this state, we are focused almost completely on one another. Studies show that this stage lasts about two or three years. Eventually, the “in love” part fades, and what you are left with is life, kids and a relationship that has evolved into tag-team child rearing. Perhaps friends with benefits.
Living like roommates may beat living alone, but when you get into a committed relationship with someone, “roommates” is not what you signed up for. It was all about the intimacy, and believe it or not, you can have that back.
We are super intimate from birth. We allow ourselves to be dependent on and enjoy the intimate care of our parents. Over time, we lose that sense of safety, and intimacy starts to become something of a challenge.
The beginning of re-establishing intimacy in a relationship lies in caring communication, trust and empathy. Caring communication establishes trust and safety. In caring communication, couples can tackle topics they may have been avoiding because it simply did not feel safe enough.
There are seven areas of intimacy where you can practice caring communication and rebuild trust and empathy — emotional intimacy, physical intimacy, financial intimacy, spiritual intimacy, recreational intimacy, sexual intimacy and playful intimacy.
These are seven areas where your intimacy can grow and blossom. Couples should take on one or more of these areas to work on. Talk about areas where it has felt a little unsafe, or explore areas where you have had success in the past.
Don’t know where to start? Read this together with your partner. Talk about each area. Which ones feel safer? Which ones feel a little scarier? Pick at least one area you will work on. Start with something that feels safe to you both, and also note the areas where you may need some outside help.
Emotional intimacy is all about closeness through sharing feelings. The safer your marriage is for sharing emotions, the more intimate it will become. Whether you are talking about goal setting, child rearing, your role in the family, budgeting or sex, it needs to be safe.
Set a goal: What is a ground rule that will make it even safer to talk about feelings? How will you remind yourselves to practice it? What if things start to get a little hot while you are talking together?
“When you recognize a topic is becoming heated, give yourself a time out,” explained Melyssa Edmunds, a licensed marriage and family therapist with the Marriage Couch. “Make sure your partner knows that you will come back in 30 minutes (set a timer in front of them) to discuss the topic again. When our adrenaline is peaked, we don’t have access to the part of our brain that allows us to think rationally. It takes 30 minutes for that adrenaline to no longer be activated. During your time out, do not think about the hot topic. Listen to music, make sure you’re relaxed, then come back to address the topic so your partner doesn’t feel as if you’re avoiding the situation.”
It’s OK to disagree. Make a reminder sign to hang in the kitchen, on the fridge; somewhere you will see it daily.
To learn more, contact the Marriage Couch, located at 12012 South Shore Blvd., Suite 108, in Wellington. Call (561) 424-7175 or visit www.marriagecouch.com.
This one is all about caring touch, such as holding hands, stroking hair, cuddling — any contact that feels caring. Touch is one of our most basic and ignored senses. The way we touch, the feeling behind the touch, the circumstances of the other person when we touch communicates so much more than words. If these little touches seem silly, like a waste of time, that means you need it even more!
Make a point of touching when you come together and separate in the beginning and end of your day. This could be a quick hug, kiss on the lips, holding each other’s hands and make eye contact. As you do this, notice what you are feeling when you touch. Where are you coming from? Where would you like to be coming from? Are you in a hurry or truly in the moment? If it feels rushed, what are you putting in front of this brief investment into your intimacy? When you are truly in the moment, how does it feel? Talk about this experience from time to time and express your feelings around touch.
Set a goal: Touch lips for seven seconds daily. You will be amazed at the intimacy it builds.
To learn more, contact Rich in Relationship at (917) 309-9045 or visit online at www.richinrelationship.com.
Believe it or not, 76 percent of all couples fight about money. When both partners understand their short-term and long-term financial goals, there is greater financial harmony. The trick is to get comfortable talking about money.
“To get comfortable talking about money, think of it as a tool to help you accomplish the things you want in life and nothing more.” financial planning expert Melissa Gannon said. “In and of itself, it only has the power we give it. It alone doesn’t make you happy; it’s not moral or immoral; it doesn’t love or hate you. Thinking of it as a tool makes money less taboo and allows couples to open up a dialogue. A more concrete approach is to explain to your partner what you want in ‘I’ language. For example, ‘I want to better understand how we invest our money.’ Or ‘I am afraid that if something happens to you, I won’t know how to find our accounts.’”
Set a goal: Have regular financial meetings to review how you are doing together. Make a point of being constructive rather than critical.
To learn more, contact Gannon at Castle Wealth Management, located at 201 Arkona Court in West Palm Beach. Call (561) 686-9604 or visit www.castlewm.com.
Being spiritually intimate is all about feeling connected to a greater whole. It could also encompass shared beliefs and practices. This may or may not be religious. This can be prayer, meditation or mindfulness together, and/or attending services. Spirituality can seem a little abstract.
“We can all benefit from our reconnection with spirit. Let our feet kiss this earth and nurture every piece in our intertwined environment,” said Sarah Palmer, a life coach at Dovecot Farm in Loxahatchee Groves. “In our daily distractions, let us take mindful moments to connect. Through breathwork and silence, we can feel more grounded and connected.”
Set a goal: Practice prayer, meditation and/or mindfulness together. Studies show that practicing any one of these four times daily will lead to you being less likely to get into a fight and increase marriage harmony.
Learn more about Dovecot Farm by calling (713) 969-8289 or visiting online at www.dovecotfarm.com.
What are activities you both enjoy? Gardening, jogging, cooking together, any activity you both like will serve here. Pick activities based on your shared interest. Maybe you both like to travel, but you’re not sure the best way to go about it.
“Most people don’t know where they want to go. We find out what they want and how much they really want to invest for the experience. We want to make sure they have the best experience for what their budget allows,” travel agent Mark Elie of K&E Travel said.
If travel is not your thing, try something creative. All humans create. We may not be Michelangelo or da Vinci, but we are born creative.
“Art is really about self-expression. You don’t have to be a pro to have a good time creating. When couples create together in our studio, they have fun, relax and enjoy one another through open communication, appreciation and even a little laughter,” said Kris Barnett of the Wood, Paper, Glass art studio.
Set a goal: Find an activity that you both enjoy and add it to your calendar at least once a week and watch as your relationship continues to blossom and grow.
Learn more at K&E Travel, located at 12789 W. Forest Hill Blvd., Suite 2C, in Wellington. Call (561) 966-9808 or visit www.ketravel.us. Wood, Paper, Glass is located in the original Wellington Mall at 12794 W. Forest Hill Blvd. To learn more, call (561) 557-9583 or visit www.woodpaperglass.com.
Don’t be afraid to explore new ways to express yourself sexually together while leaving room for your partner to say no. If you’re less inclined than you used to be, there is no shame in that.
As we age, our metabolism naturally slows down. Talk to a medical professional about actions you can take to revitalize your metabolism.
“At Calla Genics, we believe intimacy is one of the cornerstones upon which stable, healthy communities are built,” Dr. Tiffany McCalla said. “Difficulties with sexual performance often starts in the 30s, with vascular issues being the most common cause. Luckily, there are noninvasive treatment options available to address several of the common causes, including wave therapy, hormone replacement therapy, platelet-rich plasma and hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Ultimately, achieving intimacy wellness through these non-surgical treatments can lead to deeper connections with others and a greater sense of satisfaction in relationships.”
Set a goal: Schedule a getaway at least once a season to explore sexual intimacy together.
Calla Genics is located in the original Wellington Mall at 12794 W. Forest Hill Blvd., Suites 9 and 10. To learn more, call (561) 252-5398 or visit www.callagenics.com.
Play is unbelievably underrated and will enhance all of the other areas. Play can be games; it can be humor. The root of play is imagination. If you are competitive, however, play can become a blood sport. My family has a law against mini golf for this reason. Luckily, there are many ways to build teamwork.
“Dancing is a great way to rekindle the romance because you play and work together as a team. Many of our students use dance as their date night so that they make sure to make time for each other and have fun,” said Doreen Scheinpflug of Fred Astaire Dance Studio.
Set a goal: Take a dance class. Have game night once a week and try out new games until you find at least one you both think is fun. Keep playing and be playful about it.
Fred Astaire Dance Studio is located at 157 S. State Road 7, Suite 103. To learn more, call (561) 812-3825 or visit www.fredastaire.com/wellington.
If these topics feel a bit uncomfortable, that is actually good! Intimacy is all about expanding comfortability with your partner. Having those slightly uncomfortable talks make it safe to do so, and your marriage will continue to grow.
Once you have tried out an area or two, make it a habit. Remember, it takes 30 days to start a habit and 90 days for it to take root. Each month, try a new area and expand the ways that you are growing your intimacy together.