Nothing really comes easy in marriage. That's normal. To have the intimacy you long for takes years of consistent effort. However, that doesn't mean there aren't a few simple things you can do to instantly increase your intimacy. Here are three tried and true ways to deepen your connection with your spouse.
6 Second Kiss
That's right, it's that simple. Dr. John Gottman says that 'a six-second kiss is a kiss with potential.'
If a call for more kissing isn't enough motivation, let the science encourage you: When we kiss we have a flurry of hormones and neurotransmitters that set off simultaneously. When you engage in a six-second kiss you allow yourself to feel connected (oxytocin), delighted (dopamine), excited (epinephrine and norepinephrine), and relaxed (reduction in cortisol).
Today when you get home, take your spouse by their hand and lead them to a quiet part of your house. Give yourself (at least) 6 seconds to kiss like you mean it.
For many of us, the idea of having a deep conversation after a full day of work and family life sounds exhausting. But what if I told you that all you need is about 15 minutes? Emotional connection is the bone marrow of a relationship, without it your marriage becomes frail and prone to hurt. Set a timer at 15 minutes, get comfortable, look each other in the eyes, and take turns following this exercise developed by Debra Laaser in her book 'Shattered Vows':
Feelings - Where are you at? How do you feel today? Try to get beyond 'fine, good, or I don't know'. Think back to moments of excitement, sorrow, fear, joy, and humor.
Affirmation - What can you affirm your spouse about? What about your spouse do you deeply value and appreciate? And yourself, what did you do, say or think today that you are proud of?
Needs - Get specific. What do you need from your spouse that if you had it, would really help you out, help you feel loved, or encourage you. Your spouse doesn't have to agree, but as long as you don't ask you aren't allowing them to offer the gift of their self to you.
Ownership - Take time to name what you've done that you believe has possibly been hurtful to your spouse. It doesn't have to be big. Where are areas that you may have neglected them or overlooked them. Own up without excuses.
Struggles - What are you having a hard time getting past, moving through, or letting go of? What thoughts have been bothering you? Let your spouse into this world and give them a chance to walk with you through it. It's important to note though that this is NOT the time to try and 'fix' the struggle. Simply hear your spouse out.
It's far too easy to get swallowed up in all the toil and grind of life. Find some time and space to have fun and enjoy each other's company. What did you like doing when you first dated? What makes you both laugh? What games do you enjoy? What activity do you both feel energized by when you do it? What restaurant or food have you never tried? Get willing to think outside of your box. Geocaching, take a picnic, play cards, ice cream, museum or zoo, pick and enjoy fresh fruit, go fishing, rent a boat, canoe or bikes, take a road trip, rearrange the furniture, do a puzzle, go see a play or concert, dance, go bowling, listen to a new album... The internet is full of great ideas, but you will have to take the initiative to make it happen!
If it doesn't work or it fails miserably, keep after it. You may be out of practice, or it may take time to find something you both enjoy. Know that your marriage is worth the effort and the work you put into it now will pay huge dividends down the road.