You’ve done it all. The date nights, the back rubs, the conversations. You’ve transformed your bedroom into a sensual sanctuary. You’ve done all you can to be warm and caring and loving and taken all the practical steps to improve your intimacy with your spouse and somehow, something is still missing. That intimacy is not there. You still have not been able to find that connection with your spouse, let alone maintain it.
So what then? What do you do when all else fails?
Your next step, in addition to seeking marriage counseling, is to start by getting back to basics. If you continue to try to improve the intimacy within your marriage and keep hitting a wall, chances are it is failing because you are building your efforts on top of an unstable foundation. It is likely that there is something broken at the root of your marriage. All of the superficial activities will do nothing if there isn’t something uniting you under the surface.
According to Dr. Buckingham, intimacy often fails in a marriage when couples lose sight of the purpose or vision for their marriage—also known as the spiritual intimacy discussed earlier. Sometimes it may be that couples failed to discover that purpose and vision to begin with. Yet the fact that this vital, deeper level of intimacy is missing doesn’t mean that it can’t be created.
Dr. Buckingham provides three vital pieces on how to begin restoring intimacy when it feels like you’ve gone as far as you can go.
1. Restoring intimacy takes two people who are willing to work. You can’t get there with just one partner. Both spouses need to be willing to work on who they are and what they need, and they need to be willing to work together to meet each other’s needs.
2. Both spouses need to do some serious self-reflection. What is it that you need? What is it that your spouse needs? Before you can even get to the point where you are addressing each other’s needs, you need to be clear on what those needs are.
3. Determine what it will take for you both to get to where you need to be, then start the work to get there. No matter what, there will always be a work component to fixing problems of intimacy in your marriage. It’s not just enough to know what you need; it also takes being flexible and understanding to walk along the path to getting there.
“Start with the spiritual, then the emotional. The sexual will come after all of that,” says Dr. Buckingham. “Once spiritual intimacy has been established, it’s easier to establish all the others.” The levels of intimacy may be complex. It may sometimes be challenging to build or maintain. There may be a place in your marriage that you have to regularly re-think and revisit.
Yet no matter how much your intimacy may ebb and flow, the fact that it is a vital piece to your marriage puzzle never changes. Being diligent about maintaining the intimate relationship with your spouse will help you build the type of partnership to keep you close enough to take any bumps on the road toward a marriage that lasts a lifetime.
BMWK, are you ready fight for intimacy in your marriage?