How to feel closer in your relationship

So far in this relationship series, we’ve looked at some serious pitfalls to avoid or prevent – losing yourself and pushing away intimacy – but what about the joy of intimacy?!

Here are 10 ways to feel closer with your partner (though some of these can also be applied to close friends)…

1. Start with what you’ve got

Focus on what’s working in your relationship and start from there. Too often we just hear and share what’s not working, what pisses us off. Talk about what you love about your relationship, instead of taking it for granted.

2. Express how you feel

Again, we’re often quick off the mark to tell our partner when something has upset us, but how often do you tell them you love them? When he/she does something that touches you, even something as small as a wink and smile across the room at a social event, let them know.

Share how it made you feel, and be specific so they can feel it too. For example, ‘thanks for that wink, my heart felt warm and I felt appreciated and more relaxed when you did that’.

3. Share appreciations

AppreciationsMy husband and I make a practice of sharing what we appreciate about each other before going to sleep each night. Sometimes they are small, ‘I appreciate you making my favourite dinner tonight’, at times more profound, ‘I appreciate that I always feel held and supported by you’. It never ceases to amaze me how good it makes us feel.

4. Let conflicts become openings

There are probably points of contention and arguments you both get into repeatedly. The next time this happens, instead of falling into the same pattern, practice this: avoid blaming or projecting onto them, simply stay present with yourself and express how you feel right now. The other person then does the same in response.

Instead of ‘Why haven’t you fixed that yet? I asked weeks ago!?’ – ‘I told you I was going to do it, why can’t you just trust me and let me do it in my own time?!’

It could look like, ‘I’m feeling frustrated that this still hasn’t been fixed’ – ‘I know, I feel guilty for not having done it yet, but I’m just too overwhelmed with everything else right now.’ – ‘Ok I feel disappointed and also concerned that you’re feeling overwhelmed…’

5. Share what you need

Conflicts often arise from an unmet need – it may be something you haven’t acknowledged yourself, let alone expressed to your partner. So when you’re feeling like there’s no solution, nowhere to go… go inside and see if you can get a sense of what you need.

In the past, I’ve gotten angry and not understood why my partner put so much time into his work, friends etc, and seemingly so little into us. When I turned in on myself, I saw how I have a deep need for intimate connection, and more specifically, regular time to share and talk with him. When I got clear on this need and expressed it, we could then actually discuss how we could make this happen.

6. Make regular ‘us’ time

Us timeEven without such a need, scheduling regular ‘us’ time is essential considering our busy, often frantic lives. Organise a regular night or day a week that is just for you two to be together, to enjoy each other’s company and talk (not about finances, admin and house chores). Without doing this, it’s just too easy that diaries fill up and your relationship gets squeezed to the edges, building up resentment.

Have fun with it, do whatever makes you feel connected, and make it special, be conscious about it – it’s like a ‘date’ even if it’s dinner at home.

7. Schedule time for ‘big conversations’

There will be times in your relationship when you need to get things out on the table – maybe there’s been a lingering issue you’ve both been avoiding, maybe things are becoming stagnant and you need to discuss your desires and aspirations together.

Schedule a good amount time that works for you both – it rarely works to spring it on the other person. And practice communicating honestly and authentically – avoid blaming and projecting, and instead share what you feel and need. See Susan Campbell’s Getting Real book for more tips on relating in an open way.

8. Share as much sex and sensuality as you need

Each person is different when it comes to needs around affection, sensuality and sex. Have a frank conversation with your partner about how much you need, what kinds of things you like (maybe you need a massage to warm up, maybe you want to try something kinky), and when and how to make it happen.

After some frustrating incidents, we’ve worked out that we need to start before 10pm otherwise my husband is too tired and often asleep before I’m even in bed and ready for some lovin! Your needs may be different but see if you can find a ‘middle way’, where you both get what you want. You can also try having a night dedicated to just giving your partner what he/she wants, and vice versa. This is A LOT of fun!

9. Listen without interruption

Many of us feel unheard in our intimate relationships, so when your partner is sharing something with you, try to just shut up and listen. That’s right, don’t jump in, offer advice nor interrupt, even if they pause. Just allow them to talk and only when you’re sure they have finished, respond. You’ll be surprised by the richness you miss out on when jumping in before they’re done.

10. Show them how you feel

Show them how you feelWhat does your partner love? What touches them?

A poem or drawing? Pancakes for breakfast? Something sweet but silly? A raunchy night? Their favourite flowers or a gourmet cheese spread?

Every now and then, when you feel inspired, do something special to show them how much you love and desire them.

What about you?

Which of these tips are you going to take away and apply to your relationship? And do you have any others that help you feel closer? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

And if you want to some great free resources on relationships – how to find the right one & how to sustain intimacy in the long-run – sign up here to my e-list.

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