Building Emotional Intimacy In Marriage: A Guide for Couples

emotional intimacy marriage counseling couple holding hands

Emotional intimacy in marriage is absolutely imperative. As humans, we are social by nature and have a deep need for connection.  Every human being needs emotional intimacy for their well-being.  When humans are forced to live more solitary lives, it can harm their mental and physical well-being.  The same is true for your marriage or partnership.  In a healthy, thriving marriage or partnership, there is a sense of twoness, an “us.”  When your relationship is struggling and lacking in emotional intimacy, it’s likely that one or both of you are isolating yourself or your partner, causing the “us” to look more like me, I, or (him, her, they).     

What are some things that destroy or diminish emotional intimacy? In our modern day and age, we deal with technoference, which is everyday interruptions in interpersonal interactions or time spent together due to digital and mobile technology devices, such as our phones, watches, tablets, and televisions. Along with technoference is phubbing.  Yes, it’s a real word!  Phubbing is a term used to describe when a person (intentionally or inadvertently) snubs their partner by focusing on their phone.  We’ve all been there. You are out to dinner, and the person you are with gets a text, and although you are mid-sentence, they grab their phone to read and respond to the text. Did you know that even if you don’t get interrupted, even the mere presence of your phone on the table will likely reduce the quality of conversation you have with your partner or even a friend? When we aren’t willing to put our phone away to be present with our partner, it is no longer a tool, it is something toxic in our life. Later, as you read through the guide for building emotional intimacy, you’ll likely glean that the opposites of those things can increase emotional intimacy, are the things that can destroy or reduce emotional intimacy. Being closed off in conversations is the opposite of being open, and denying responsibility is the opposite of accountability.  

There is no quick fix or fast track to building emotional intimacy.  Building emotional intimacy in marriage is an ongoing process that requires effort and commitment from both partners.  By investing time and energy into nurturing emotional connections, couples can create lasting and fulfilling relationships.   

Cultivating emotional intimacy is crucial for maintaining a strong and healthy relationship. Emotional intimacy in marriage involves sharing your feelings, thoughts, and vulnerabilities with your partner and creating a deep connection beyond surface-level interactions. Whether you have found this article amid a struggling marriage or partnership or are pre-emptively looking to keep your relationship growing and thriving with emotional intimacy, I hope you will find this guide a helpful starting point.  Remember that every relationship is unique, and it is essential to tailor this guide to support your and your partner’s preferences and needs.  Here’s a guide for couples to enhance emotional intimacy:  

  1. Cultivate Trust 

Trust is essential for emotional intimacy in marriage.  You and your partner expect the other to care for you, hold more affection towards you than others, not harm you, and be treated fairly and honorably.  Cultivating trust requires bravery, patience, and understanding. Some ways to cultivate trust: 

  • Open communication 
  • Commitment 
  • Be reliable and consistent 
  • Be accountable 
  • Set and respect boundaries 
  • Keep confidences confidential 

2. Be Available 

Being available to your partner has a lot to do with responsiveness.  It means being emotionally, physically, and mentally present with them. This demonstrates support and builds a deeper connection with your partner. Being available with your partner in good times and bad increases intimacy by offering your partner a sense of reliability and creating a space where your partner feels that you understand, respect, appreciate, and value them and care about their well-being. Some ways you can be emotionally, physically, and mentally available: 

  • Allocate time for your relationship. Be present in the moment (put those phones away!). 
  • Physical affection towards your partner. Incorporate more hugs, kisses, and hand holding into your relationship.  
  • Be a safe space. Share openly and honestly with your partner. 
  • Collaborative problem solving. Work together to solve problems that arise and avoid being dismissive toward your partner’s ideas or point of view. 

3. Be Available Differently 

Being available differently demonstrates to your partner that you are “being available,” but doing it in unexpected ways.  This is being available to your partner in ways you usually are not.  Showing interest or participating in something you typically avoid.  These can be small gestures or grand gestures.  If you usually avoid doing the dishes, offer to clean up after dinner.  If you couldn’t care less about sports and your partner is an avid fan, ask them if you can join in and help you fill out your own bracket for March Madness bracket, or create your own fantasy football roster. If you have two left feet but your partner loves to dance, sign up for a dance class! Get out of your comfort zone to do something for or with your partner. It’s a way to surprise your partner with generosity and build emotional intimacy in your marriage.   

4. Self-Care 

Mutuality, or the sense of “us,” does not mean that your individuality ceases to exist.  When intimate partners take the time to invest in their own wellness and personal development, they are stronger and healthier as a couple. Some ways to support each other in self-care: 

  • Encourage each other to pursue personal interests 
  • Maintain a sense of self 
  • Celebrate achievements (big and small) 

5. Counseling or Conferences/Workshops 

Get the help you need.  We all need help sometimes, be it individual, family, or couples counseling or going on a weekend marriage retreat. Professional guidance can provide valuable insights and tools to build emotional intimacy in marriage and strengthen your connection.  


Get in touch

Please send us a message by email or the contact form below