What is intimacy and how do you rebuild it?
“Intimacy issues” is one of the top three reasons couples seek therapy. Yet what intimacy means is far from clear or straightforward. Typically, partners use “intimacy” as a code word sex, and lack of intimacy to refer to infrequent sexual encounters. However, intimacy goes well beyond sexual activity and encompasses a broader part of a couple’s relationship. Sex is not just about, well…sex.
So what is intimacy and how do you rebuild it?
Intimacy is a type of connection between partners that provides a sense of vitality and aliveness. It involves playfulness, and the possibility a deeper and exciting engagement. Sex can be the expression of intimacy as well as a generator of intimacy. That is why sex is an aspect of intimacy but not synonymous with it.
When couples say their relationship lacks intimacy, they are referring to a lack of vitality, playfulness and desire for one another.
There are several reasons why relationships lack intimacy. For some couples, anger and resentment create a roadblock to intimacy. The intimacy is “there” but it can’t be accessed. For other couples, they have lost touch with the feelings that originally brought them together. They feel that they have grown apart. They may be absorbed by the practicalities of life, e.g. running a household, or co-parenting or they may lead parallel lives.
Rarely, can couples remedy these problems on their own. Couples’ therapy provides an opportunity rebuild this essential part of a couples’ relationship.