Intimacy is intentional.
I used to think intimacy–which I’m defining as the act and feeling of being known–just happened. Like when you found the “right person.” Always in a picturesque place, after a picturesque day filled with picnics, art museums, ice cream cones, and sunsets on the beach.
Because that’s what movies taught me. (Movies informed my opinions on relationships a lot more than I’d like to admit…) However, working to have a healthy marriage for almost ten years has changed my earlier views.
Intimacy forms through intentionality and vulnerability, not a hyper-romantic setting.
Okay, a tropical vacation or elaborate date is certainly going to create an environment where emotional intimacy can occur, but I’m not going to wait around for them or expect my partner to make them. Instead, we’ve formed three regular and easily repeatable habits that help us foster intimacy in our relationship.
1. Create rhythms of unstructured and undistracted time.
Some of the best conversations we’ve had as a couple came from moments that were both unstructured and undistracted. Times when there’s nowhere to be, nothing that needs to be done, and no phone to steal our attention.
These moments rarely happen without help, so we’ve learned to build them into our daily life.
Examples of unstructured and undistracted activities we like:
A long dog walk after dinner each evening
Regular fires in our cheap, old firepit
Grabbing Cokes and going for a drive (especially in the winter when it’s too cold to walk.)
These worked well for us because we either incorporated it into something we had to do anyways (walk the dog) or liked doing and were easy and cheap (campfires and drives)
Find what activities draw out the conversations for you and your partner and repeat!
2. Be weird together
It’s my theory that we’re all a little weird. So when you find someone who gets that and celebrates it by adding to it, then you’ve found a good one.
Keeping things playful and goofy (or weird) is a good–and often unexpected– way to create moments of intimacy.
So we have a weird idea for you to try: draw each other.
No, really, grab the art supplies of your choice, sit across from each other, maybe set a timer, and draw each other’s faces.
Hear us when we say perfection is not the goal. The benefit of this activity comes from the observations you’ll make and the joy/laughter you’ll experience when you see yourself through the eyes of your partner.
Either for its beauty or its comedy, you could cherish these drawings for the rest of your life.
3. Ask curious questions
We’re constantly changing and evolving as individuals, and a healthy relationship understands there’s always more to learn (and re-learn) about the other person.
Taking the effort to regularly ask curious questions and listen to one another’s stories is a meaningful way to contribute to intimacy.
These times can be as structured or unstructured as you like. You could ask the same predetermined questions each week or make it a point to ask new questions thought of on the spot or related to a specific event.
The point is you’re regularly asking and listening to your partner.
We’ve gone ahead and written seven curious questions to get you started.
- Starting with your first year of school, take turns telling a memory from each grade. These memories can be significant or mundane.
- When was the last time you felt understood by someone?
- When was the last time you laughed so hard you cried?
- Physically, what do you find most attractive about me?
- Non-physically, what do you find most attractive about me?
- What’s something you don’t understand but have always been too embarrassed to ask about?
- What do you love most about our current rhythm of life? What would you like to change?
- What’s something you/your family did growing up that you thought everyone else did too?