One of the many benefits of being in an intimate adult relationship is the deep, emotional connection we experience with another person. At the outset of any new relationship, we enjoy getting to know our partner — what makes them tick, what their hopes and dreams are, and what keeps them up at night. We spend time probing into their fears and desires, and in turn, find ourselves sharing our own thoughts and feelings. The emotional bond is established, and the relationship continues to grow.
Whether it’s a few months or many years down the track, you may eventually realize that the close emotional bond you once had with your partner seems to have faded — the “honeymoon period” seems to be over, and the stressors and pressures of everyday life can creep into your relationship. A vital component of any healthy and successful long-term relationship is the ability to communicate, and to do so intentionally and selflessly. This kind of intimate communication helps your partner to feel seen and heard, and demonstrates your willingness to take their emotional needs into consideration.
Here are some different ways that you can deepen the level of intimacy in your relationship, creating a conscious connection with your partner.
It may seem obvious, but if intimate conversation is something that you and your partner are trying to work toward, you may need to remind them that it’s safe for them to share how they’re feeling and that you’re ready to listen without judgement. Encourage your partner to name the emotions they’re feeling (scared, confused, upset, disappointed, betrayed, etc.), and paraphrase their words back to them. Ask open-ended or leading questions to prompt more discussion, such as “When was the last time you remember feeling like this?”, “How can I support you best right now?” or “If you could have done things differently, how would you have wanted this to play out?”. Let your partner know it’s safe for them to talk about how they feel, and how their feelings are impacting their own life.
Pay attention to what your partner is saying as they express how they feel. If your partner says something you don’t understand, ask them to clarify what they mean, or explain what they mean in a different way. Toward the end of the discussion, summarize the key points your partner has made without judgement. Before jumping in with advice on how to handle the situation, ask permission — clarify whether they’re asking for your input, or simply needed to talk. Active listening shows your partner that you’re not just hearing what they’re saying — but care deeply about how they’re feeling.
Empathy is a powerful practice in any relationship. Practicing empathy means understanding and sharing the emotions that someone else is feeling — by “putting yourself in their shoes”. For example, if your partner is going through a difficult time with their boss at work, imagine what it would like for you to be in the same position. How might it impact your ability to focus on your tasks? How would you feel every morning before going to work, and every night when you returned home? Being able to empathize with how others feel is a powerful skill, and doing so will show your partner that you understand their suffering.
Whether consciously or unconsciously, most people seek validation of their feelings — especially when they’re going through a tough time. They want to know that how they feel isn’t imagined, unimportant, or unacceptable. They want to know that they’re not alone, and that there might even be someone else who feels the same way. As your partner expresses how they’re feeling, it’s important to reinforce their worth, and reassure them that you’ll be there for them as they navigate their situation. Let them know that they are loved, valued, and worthy of any support they need while they work through their difficulties. You can use simple statements such as “I don’t think you sound crazy at all!”, “I’d be really upset if this happened to me, too”, or “Anyone would feel disappointed about this — of course you feel let down.”
If you require more support or would like to improve your intimate communication skills, working with a licensed therapist can be helpful. They’ll help you navigate through the specifics of your relationship and the issues you and your partner face, and help you devise a strategy for deepening the emotional intimacy in your relationship.
Begin Couples Counseling in the Sacramento Area:
If you are ready to learn how to deal with the problems in your relationship, the therapists at The Relationship Therapy Center in Fair Oaks, CA and Roseville, CA can help! Our therapists are ready to support you and your partner in your journey towards creating a healthy and happy relationship. To begin counseling in the Sacramento, CA area, please follow these three simple steps:
Contact our counseling office to get more information about couples counseling and to schedule a free consultation,
Make an appointment with one of our Gottman trained therapists
Find support and healing in your relationship!
Other Services offered at The Relationship Therapy Center in California:
Our Sacramento area counseling clinics located in Roseville and Fair Oaks, CA are pleased to offer a variety of mental health services. Our couples services include: Couples Counseling, Counseling after infidelity, sex therapy, co-parent counseling, family therapy, divorce counseling, intensive couples retreats, and premarital counseling. Our individual therapy services include anxiety treatment, therapy for children, teen therapy, depression treatment, codependency counseling and individual relationship counseling. Our therapists offer online counseling in California to treat a variety of mental health concerns. Please reach out to our Sacramento area therapy office to learn more about the many ways we can help you or your loved ones.