BUILDING PHYSICAL INTIMACY
The Importance of Building Physical Intimacy
Although it may not be the primary “love language” of you or your partner, physical touch is indispensable! It sends the message that we are loved and cared for, which meets emotional needs. Physiologically we benefit as well. Various studies have shown that physical touch lowers cortisol levels. Cortisol has been called “the stress hormone,” and higher levels of it can increase heart rate and blood pressure and even cause weight gain. It has been reported in other studies that increased physical intimacy brought about a decrease in symptoms of physical problems, including muscle aches, backaches, headaches, and insomnia. Frequent physical touch also increases levels of oxytocin, the “bonding hormone,” which creates a sense of closeness and well-being. Nothing can replace the skin-to-skin connection between you and your spouse.
Building Physical Intimacy Through Touch
Here are some easy ways to increase your physical intimacy through touch that is not necessarily sexual. These are particularly helpful if you have been struggling in this area or are currently in a “sexless” relationship. They can help you slowly rebuild the physical intimacy that has been lacking.
- Go on a long walk, holding hands. Stop and admire something in nature, unique architecture, or landscaping. Talk about what you like about what you see or are experiencing.
- Give each other a 10-second hug and melt into each other’s arms. Make it a rule that either one can initiate, and the other has to participate.
- Turn up the music and dance, even if it’s just for a minute. This can make doing household chores or making dinner more fun and rewarding.
- Don’t miss an opportunity to snuggle. Whether you are reading, watching a ball game or movie, or drifting off to sleep, cuddle up!
- Sell your king-sized bed and replace it with a queen-sized model. That way, you will most likely touch in the night. At least you will be able to find each other! Sleeping back-to-back is a way to enjoy nocturnal touch as well.
- Exercise together. All kinds of healthy hormones are released through physical exertion. Helping each other stretch or “spotting” each other while weight-lifting are just a couple of ways to enjoy touch while exercising.
Building Sexual Intimacy.
Sex can be a profoundly satisfying experience when the other areas of intimacy are also growing. Intimacy, knowing and being known, is as important as the act itself. For most couples, after a session of lovemaking, they feel most vulnerable and want to discuss their innermost thoughts, fears, and dreams…well at least she does; he’s snoring! Seriously though, sexual intimacy can lead to emotional and even spiritual intimacy.
To enhance your sexual intimacy:
- Avoid distractions while having sex with your partner to understand each other’s sexual needs.
- Take your mind off that office issue or whether the kids have gone off to sleep since it is a school night. Be in the moment.
- Know what your sexual desires are and what makes you happy. Only then can you think about letting your desires known to your loved one. Know their erogenous zones.
- Communication is the key to enhancing sexual intimacy in the relationship. Share your likes and dislikes about sex, honestly, with your partner.
The first step in building a good sex life is determining the frequency of sexual intimacy that works for you. Without judgment, talk about each person’s desire and need for sex. Consider schedules and any health concerns.
Each of you could share and fill in the blanks as follows:
I think that a good frequency for us would be___________. If we could do that, I would feel______________.
You might have to compromise. Make the number something doable. Your frequency might be less than either of you would like, but it could be a goal.
WHO WILL INITIATE?
Now that you have decided on frequency, you will need to discuss who will initiate. Most of us want to be wanted and desired by our mates, so for them to initiate lovemaking is a definite turn-on and ego boost.
Here are two examples of a plan for initiating lovemaking for a couple who has decided upon a frequency of twice a week:
Example 1. Two times per week, on Mondays and Thursdays. He initiates on Mondays, and she initiates on Thursdays. OR,
He initiates both days this week, and she initiates both days next week
Example 2. Two times per week. He initiates between Sunday and Tuesday. She initiates Thursday through Saturday.
Wednesday is a day off – or anyone can initiate.
Based on the frequency you have agreed upon, now agree upon a plan to initiate your lovemaking. Be willing to move out of your comfort zone and share the opportunity to initiate sex.
The third component of creating an excellent sexual agreement is communicating our preferences to our spouse and learning about theirs. Each of us has some sexual expressions, activities, places, and positions that are always pleasurable and satisfying.
Others are off-limits for whatever reason. Sometimes the reason is apparent, such as if it is outside the boundaries of safety or respect for both the husband and the wife. Those are not the ones that usually require discussion, although it would be OK to be clear about them. The more sensitive ones are those that might, in and of themselves, usually be OK. Still, because of past experiences or damage, they have become “off-limits” since they trigger negative emotions and feelings. Your spouse must understand what these are and why they are always off-limits.
And then there are those sexual activities and expressions that are OK with us, but only if we initiate them. These, too, need to be communicated in advance to avoid misunderstanding or feelings of rejection.
Prioritize Physical Intimacy in all Stages of Life
- Research shows that marital satisfaction sharply declines after the birth of a child. Couples who have healthy sexual chemistry prioritize their relationship. They create a needed balance in their lives and schedule quality time that doesn’t involve their new (or not-so-new) bundle of joy.
- Life can become so busy during the years of making a living and raising a family that sexual intimacy gets pushed to the bottom of the list, and other things take priority. This is to the detriment of your relationship. Your relationship needs sexual intimacy to stay healthy.
Often as couples begin the transition to the stage of empty nesters, their bodies are also transitioning to the next stage. Menopause and the changing hormonal levels in both men and women bring changes in sexual drive, energy, and physiology. You must remain intentional about your sexual intimacy by consulting with a physician and doing whatever is necessary to navigate these changes. We cover this in great detail in all our live Love Recon events. Physical intimacy can grow sweeter and more fulfilling through these changes if you are intentional and continue to communicate with your partner lovingly. It is essential to continue to nourish your intimacy, not only sexually but in all other ways, so that you don’t reach the empty nest stage with someone who has become a virtual stranger. Whether through loving and affectionate touching or sexual lovemaking, physical touch is essential to a healthy life and relationship. For lasting love and satisfaction, be intentional and prioritize physical intimacy in your relationship, no matter what age or stage of life you are experiencing.
If you want to learn more about the five types of intimacy or how Love Recon seminars and coaching can help you and your relationship, don’t hesitate to contact me at [email protected] or call 866-218-1716. You may also visit our website, www.LoveRecon.org, for testimonials and information.