Creative Ways to Rekindle Intimacy in Your Marriage
Did you know that dating your spouse is an important responsibility of being a husband/wife? One young couple shared their 222 rule of dating(1) learnt from social media. Before I share the 222 rule, let me highlight the importance of intimacy in a marriage.
Intimacy is the primary reason people get married. Intimacy is a stress-buster that is fundamental to marital health, commitment, stability, and well-being(2). Intimacy in a marriage takes on various dimensions.
Physical intimacy makes the husband-and-wife relationship unique and exclusive to each other – a connection of skin to skin. It releases the bonding hormone Oxytocin which enhances the feeling of love.
Intellectual intimacy allows the couple to share ideas and opinions freely, sharpening each other’s thinking skills without imposing on each other. It connects the couple mind to mind. Differences of opinion are appreciated, and common grounds of agreement are sought.
Emotional intimacy promotes a deep sense of closeness and trust without fearing rejection between husband and wife. In other words, husband and wife talk to each other about anything good AND bad – a connection of heart to heart! Note: to enjoy good physical intimacy, you need strong emotional intimacy!
Let me add one very fundament concept – the first step to intimacy is safety. Physical safety means the couple interacts in a relaxed manner without fear of physical danger or abuse. Emotional safety means a couple can be vulnerable to each other without fearing that the spouse will criticize, reject or put them down. When a spouse feels safe, they feel loved and good about themselves in the presence of the other. The loss of safety normally leads to repetitive conflict (fight) or excessive distancing (flight)(3).
So, how can marriage be a stress buster and not a stress bombardment?
222 Rule of Dating(1)
Plan and put in specific dates and times to date each other and increase the vitality of the marriage using the following rules:
Every 2 weeks, have 1 date night. g. A romantic walk along Esplanade after a romantic dinner.
Every 2 months, have 1 weekend doing something special. g. Attend a baking class together, followed by a couple’s massage.
Every 2 years, have 1 week of a couple’s getaway. g. Sign up for a retreat to refresh the mind, body and soul.
Adopt a common hobby or interest
My wife and I noticed we were drifting apart because we were so busy with our careers and children. We were afraid that we would wake up one morning and find a stranger sleeping beside us. Thus, we began a journey to hunt for common interests. And we found line dancing! And we have been doing this for the last 10 years. Then, we went on to volunteer work and attended gym and skill-building classes together. These helped us in our connection, and we have also made new friends to hang out with!
Experiment together to find out what both of you enjoy doing together. The “hunting” process is part of the joy of discovery.
Write love letters
This sounds old-fashioned so if you write a love letter to your spouse, it would be a surprise! Remember these 3 principles when writing a love letter to your spouse:
Be Thoughtful: recall and reflect on past experiences when expressing your affection to make it real; not a general expression but be very specific about how you have experienced love with your spouse.
Be Heartfelt: Be genuine about how you feel about your relationship. If you need help with feeling words, consult Mr Google.
Be Hopeful: you are building a life together till death do us part; share your hopes and dreams and what this marriage means to you and express how you can support each other for better or worse.
Learn to be Husband and Wife
Why do we need to learn when we are already husband and wife? We go to school to learn language, mathematics and social skills. Where do we learn marriage skills from? I asked this in my marriage classes, and the answers were usually from parents or mistakes.
Instead of just learning through trial and error, we can go for training to become a better spouse to one another! As a couple, we go through different life stages and transitions. Transitions can be stressful and new skills must be learnt to help us adapt and adjust to new environments. There are many such practical training courses out there that help us to connect with each other more intimately, such as those offered by Fei Yue [https://www.family-central.sg/marriage-support-programmes/]. Marriage is a life-long learning experience, and we can equip ourselves with tools for the journey.
Intimacy is a crucial aspect of marriage. Keeping it alive requires effort and creativity. It cannot grow without effort. It is an everyday action. And there is no end to creativity! The only limit is the heart.
Written By: Timothy Thong, Counsellor, Fei Yue Community Services
What do you do to create emotional safety in your marriage?
What steps can you take to deepen emotional intimacy for each other?
(2) Factors that influence marital intimacy: A qualitative analysis of Iranian married couples, Zoleikha Kamali, Negah Allahyar, Shahla Ostovar, Syed Mohamed Shafeq bin Syed Mansor Alhabshi & Mark D. Griffiths, Cogent Psychology (2020)
(3) Emotional Safety Viewing Couples Through the Lens of Affect by Don R. Catherall 2007, Routledge