Why do some couples struggle so much to stay together?
This is a question that intrigued me when I started working with romantic relationships.
Many women would say to me, “What do I do when feelings in a marriage are gone?” Or the men I work with to save the marriage share, “When a marriage breaks down for one person, is it still possible to get it back?”
I was wondering if, when feelings in a marriage are gone, they can be restored with focus and effort. The good news is that Yes, they can!
The problem is, there are three main reasons that keep couples from reconnecting, which I’ll explain later in this article.
Most people I talked to asked me, “Is relationship intimacy important to you?” My answer is and always will be “Yea! Absolutely yes!”.
However, I’ve found that many couples don’t focus on this when they think their marriage is over.
People need intimacy. It is one of the basic human needs, according to many psychologists and wellness experts.
This is supported by Anthony Robbinswho studied universal human needs and found that one of the four basic human needs is need for love and connection.
The Doctor. Steven Stosny claims that intimacy is also crucial for normal human functioning and can help ward off depression, aggression and calm anxiety.
A relationship needs intimacy. Otherwise it will slowly, like an unwatered flower, wither and die. Unfortunately, I see this whenever individuals or couples come to me with a marriage in crisis.
There is always a breakdown in intimacy. Divorce statistics support this and a lack of intimacy and connection is often to blame.
What surprises me is that if we all value intimacy in a relationship and recognize it as an important healthy relationship and lasting, why can’t couples restore it after it’s been broken or lost?
They exist three main reasons why couples fight so hard to regain your intimate connection when a relationship is frayed. Here’s how you can resolve these intimacy issues:
1. Men and women view intimacy differently.
One of the main reasons couples find it difficult to regain intimacy is because men and women have different views of what it means to be intimate.
Having helped countless couples to save the marriage, I often ask them separately what it means to be intimate. On average, here are their answers (of course, there are always exceptions).
To the menintimacy is:
- a physical connection
- Walking hand in hand, hugging and kissing
- Quality physical time together
- sexual intimacy
- do things together
To the womenintimacy is:
- an emotional connection
- Share important issues with each other
- Hear things about husband’s day
- Being able to cry about emotional events and experiences together
- Being emotionally aware when feelings are hurt
- Knowing each other’s hopes and dreams
Men tend to associate intimacy with being physical, which includes touching and sex. For women, it’s more about talking intimately face to face.
2. Fear of intimacy.
“I’m afraid of you and at the same time I love you and that’s not a good combination.”
Fear of intimacy plays a big factor among couples struggling to restore intimacy. The fear of getting hurt and being vulnerable can block emotional sharing and trust in a relationship.
Fear of rejection can keep a relationship from being physically intimate again. Fear of failure or disappointment can keep us from sharing our desires, dreams, hopes and expectations, so we settle for less.
The fear of abandonment can keep someone from being truly connected with the other person. The fear of getting lost in a relationship is another common reason men and women avoid intimacy.
According to Hal Shorey Ph.D. from Psychology Today, fearing intimacy and avoiding closeness in relationships is the norm for about 17 percent of adults in Western cultures.
While we have these fears, most marriage counselors do not face these fears. Instead, they suggest “talking about your problems” over and over again, which often causes more fear.
To save a relationship, you need to focus on establishing the connection and looking to the future. What works is practical guidance and support on how to move forward and be intimate despite these fears.
3. Not recognizing the 7 main areas of intimacy.
Many of us keep our blindsight of intimacy and fail to recognize that, to build a healthy, lasting, satisfying and pleasurable relationship, we need more than one type of intimacy to be present.
Here are the 7 types of intimacy I’ve identified in the most successful marriages.
1- Self-Intimacy: to have a healthy relationshipwe need to have a good relationship with ourselves, know what makes us happy, what we want in a relationship and get to know each other deeply.
This is critical as it allows us to overcome any blockages or fears of intimacy. It starts with self-care.
2- Emotional intimacy: Expressing from the heart their true desires and pains, learning to be vulnerable – it helps you to connect with your partner like never before.
3- Intimacy in conflicts: Being able to stay connected while exploring differences is key to a healthy relationship.
It’s about continuing to respect even during any disagreements.
4- Intimacy of affection: Showing care by words, physical touch of a non-sexual nature, and attention.
5- Intimacy of dreams and goals: Couples who share dreams and support each other achieve their own individual goals and dreams are able to maintain the connection and stay closer.
As you can see, there are many different factors that contribute to a deep connection and intimate relationship, and when supporting couples to reconnect, it’s important to look at all aspects.
Hope this was helpful and you have some ideas on how to increase your connection.
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