Intimacy is important in relationships, and I am not just talking about sex. I am talking about the sense of emotional vulnerability and connection to your partner. But when our relationships are struggling, it can be hard to find that connection. You might not even fight often, but you feel yourself drifting apart. And when you try, nothing seems to come as easy for the two of you as it used to. There are certain things in life that just put up walls that block intimacy. So, what are some of the walls and the sacrifices that you have to make to get past them?
You Are Too Busy
Life is hectic. Sometimes I feel like a broken record on this point. It comes up with so many couples that I work with and so many articles I write. Life just does not set us up to have a lot of disposable time. There is a very simple, cliché way to fix this problem. Be intentional with your time. If you just go with the flow of life, there will never be time to connect. That is why it is important to make time for your relationship.
While that cliché is true, it does not play out in a clouds and butterflies type of way in real life. You have to make sacrifices in order to be intentional with your time. This will mean that you have some very difficult decisions. It could mean that you do not get to devote as much time to that hobby that you love. It could also mean that you need to make sacrifices at work, maybe even costing you career advancement opportunities. If your relationship is going to be your number one priority, that means something will have to get moved to number two.
Substances Can Get in the Way
First thing, I am not talking about substance use that rises to the level of addiction. That would be a separate post all together. I am only talking about use which has an effect on your relationship. Second thing, I do not want this to be read as a moral statement against alcohol, cannabis, or other drugs. Live your life, I am just writing about how I have seen this block intimacy in couples.
I have seen this be the biggest hurdle for couples when one uses, drinks, or smokes and the other does not. And research backs that up. I do not want to get too into the weeds (pun intended) about why this is. But in simple terms, intimacy is about vulnerable sharing and responsiveness from your partner. If one partner is in an altered state consistently, they will not be as responsive. Then the other partner will stop sharing, and you start drifting apart.
You Spend Too Much Time with Other People
This goes back to the first point, but intimacy gets blocked when one partner feels they are not important to the other. You might think of affairs and infidelity, but I am really just talking about the relationships in your life that take priority over your partner. Safety is another key part of intimacy. When I fall, do I feel like my partner will catch me no matter what? If I feel like I am the second or third most important person in my partner’s life, the answer is probably “no.”
If you are currently looking for ways to deepen intimacy with your partner The Marriage & Family Clinic can help.
About the Author
Ryan Hicks is a licensed therapist and marriage counselor at The Marriage and Family Clinic in Denver, Colorado. He specializes in working with couples in high conflict and working with couples in the LGBTQ community. When he’s not working with couples, you’ll find him rock climbing or taking in the great outdoors of Colorado.