Are you doing these everyday things that inadvertently kill intimacy in marriage?

Intimacy in marriage; foster it and then protect it

How does a couple build intimacy in marriage? One researcher that has studied intimacy for more than 40 years, John Gottman, describes intimacy as a combination of shared meaning and helping to make each other’s life dreams come true. A sense of greater purpose and legacy provide intimacy.

Couples may be spending more time together, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that their intimacy in marriage is increasing. For some, the time of working from home is dragging on and on and outside entertainment is limited. 

Despite this time spent together are you experiencing a lack of intimacy? A sudden “cooling” in your sex life? 

intimacy in marriage

We asked our team of relationship experts about the most common “intimacy killers” that couples should be on the lookout for, and what committed couples should strive to do instead to protect their intimacy in marriage.

Critical lessons for intimacy in marriage

In the hustle of modern life (and in the stress of the pandemic) many couples put their relationship low on the priority list. It’s important that couples prioritize their relationship—as you think about your day and your week find time for you and your partner to connect. 

Then guard that time for the precious investment that it is. Another critical issue that can kill intimacy is avoiding repair after a conflict. Repair attempts are critical to the health of any relationship and intimacy. 

Amidst the stress that we are under as a population, couples may choose to avoid crucial questions about the future and their values. While this might feel like the right idea for the moment (do we really want to take on more stress right now?) this is the wrong approach.

Instead, choose to face these challenges together. Problems aren’t between you and your partner. Instead, remember that it is you and your partner against the problem. Set aside time regularly to have a generative conversation and talk through some of the things that are on your mind.

We’ve changed the way that we work and the way that we go out into the world in response to the pandemic.

I see couples becoming too casual with each other. While we want to be comfortable in our own homes things like using the bathroom at the same time, walking around in baggy underwear or comfy oversized pants and never dressing up can be major intimacy killers. 

Make special time dedicated to romance and sexual play, get a little fancy, and introduce some novelty when you do—you’ll both feel better!

Couples are killing their intimacy by getting constantly distracted by their phones! While technology can make parts of our lives easier, it also makes being distracted easier as well. Everything is at our fingertips; emails, social media, phone, text, video. 

Our phones are constantly pinging which makes unplugging harder to do.  If you want to be intimate with your partner, silence your phone and give each other your undivided attention!

The biggest thing couples do to kill intimacy in marriage is failing to schedule time for it. Sometimes couples don’t recognize the need to build space for intimate moments in their lives. There seems to be an expectation that romance and desire should happen naturally.  

For so many couples managing bills, household chores, jobs, and children, intimacy will only happen if they create a sacred space for it. Don’t wait for it to happen, commit to making it happen together!

Communication between partners is critical in intimacy and in sex. Sometimes one partner will assume that the other’s receptiveness to foreplay automatically leads to intercourse.

This can be an intimacy killer if the two of you are not in agreement about where that foreplay is leading. Talk about your expectations and desires together and be open to engaging in sexual intimacy that isn’t always going to lead to intercourse.

What are some other pitfalls to avoid?

As you work to build your intimacy and stay connected to one another, be mindful of your tone. Harsh criticisms and contempt are dangerous for any relationship. Our relationship experts want the two of you to be particularly mindful of treating each other in these ways.

  • Making harsh statements and ignoring bids for attention from your partner. (Dr. Heide Rodríguez-Ubiñas)
  • Getting upset when your partner brings up an issue, using insensitive non-verbal communication like an eye rolling, looking away, or other dismissive cues. (Timothy Donovan)
  • Showing contempt and disrespect towards a partner. (Dr. Patricia Gorman)
  • Failing to respond with empathy and understanding when your partner reaches out. (Dr. Doug Burford)

Re-build your intimacy in marriage

It is normal for couples to experience ups and downs in intimacy but if you and your partner are feeling like you can’t get that spark back, ask for help. Our relationship experts can help you to change the way that you speak to, act towards, and feel about one another-in a single weekend.

Jessica Hufnagle


Jessica is the Director of Couples Therapy Inc and has a background in psychology and in organizational behavior. Jessica works behind the scenes to bring the clinical wisdom and experience on the Couples Therapy Inc team to couples all over the globe. 

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