1. What activities and interests can we develop that will bring us closer?
Closeness develops between a couple when you spend time together doing things that are fun and enjoyable. You might not share all the same interests, but you can develop some mutual interests that you enjoy together. According to many psychologists, reading together, even reading different books, can bring partners closer together. But any fun activity you can share that involves cooperation and shared experience will tighten your bond. Fun and play are the antidotes for boredom and disconnection. Brainstorm together some mutual interests or new activities you can try. Here are ideas for summer and winter fun activities.
2. What could I do that would cause you to pull away from me?
To feel close with your partner, you need to feel safe and respected. You need a protective bubble around your relationship that binds the two of you together as a team—in friendship, physical intimacy, and companionship. When one of you pulls away, the bubble is compromised and the relationship is in danger of losing its strong bond. We can pull away from each other briefly, but if the distance grows too vast without repair, the damage can be serious. Before this happens, learn from each other what might cause the other to pull away. Do either of you have behaviors or use words that push the other away?
3. Who do we know that has the kind of intimacy we want?
Emotional intimacy might not be something you’ve consciously considered before. Perhaps you think closeness as a couple is something that should always be there. Maybe you don’t realize how much closer you could be if you just changed some behaviors and attitudes. Think about couples you know who seem to be close and happy with each other. What do they have in their relationship that you’d like to have? What could both of you do to foster that connection?
4. When do you feel the most connected to me?
There are times when we feel extremely close and connected with our partners. Maybe it’s something they say or a kindness they offer. It could be as simple as time sitting together and talking or taking a walk together. Your spouse might not know how he or she is pulling you closer, so share with each other the ways in which you feel especially close and what your partner does to foster that. You might both surprise each other.
5. What are the life lessons I can learn from you?
Our love relationship is the main setting for our own personal growth. Through this relationship, we learn compromise, teamwork, empathy, compassion, resilience, patience, and commitment. But we also have the opportunity to expand simply by viewing our partner as a teacher. What life experiences and mindsets does your partner have that can enlighten you? What are his or her strengths that you can adopt? How does his or her worldview reflect a possible new way of thinking for you? Discuss with each other what lessons you can share and what you have learned from your partner.
6. What kind of memories do we want to create together?
A lifetime of memories are the fabric of a happy, intimate relationship. When you look back on your life together over the next few years and into old age, what do you want to be able to say about it? What kind of life can you create right now that will serve as the source of happy, positive memories in the future? This might involve special time with children, family, and friends, in addition to travel, shared activities, adventure, and romance. As poet Mary Oliver asks in her poem “The Summer Day” —“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”
7. What will be the early warning signs that our relationship is in trouble?
A loss of closeness and intimacy is a huge red flag that the relationship is on the skids. But what does that mean for your particular relationship? Every couple is different in how they feel close and the specific actions and words that maintain that closeness. Before either of you unconsciously allow the connection to weaken, be proactive in knowing what to watch out for. Each of you might have differing warning signals, so be sure you both communicate what spells potential trouble on the horizon. More important, when you sense something is off, be sure you open the lines of communication with your spouse. Don’t allow problems to simmer.
8. What do you think makes our relationship special?
When you first fall in love, it feels like you’re the only couple in the world who has such an amazing connection. You see yourselves as uniquely matched and protected from the conflict and drama you witness in other couples around you. As time goes on, some of the initial enthrallment wears off, and you begin to see each other and your relationship more realistically, especially in times of stress, conflict, or boredom. However, by mentally revisiting those early days and reminding yourselves of what made you unique and special as a couple, you can reignite those romantic feelings and strengthen your emotional bond.
9. What are your deepest dreams and desires for yourself and for us?
The ability to share your innermost feelings with your partner is one of the most valuable ways we create intimacy. We all have hopes and dreams, for ourselves and our relationships, and we need to express these with the one person who can help us realize them. Sometimes our dreams and goals can feel threatening to our partner. Maybe one of you wants to change jobs or move to a different city. Part of intimacy requires that in sharing your dreams, you listen to your partner’s fears and concerns. In listening to your partner’s dreams, you allow him or her the freedom to share without immediately undermining the person.
10. What should we do if we start to lose our emotional closeness?
Marriage therapists often suggest you should increase the amount of time together when emotional intimacy is damaged. This is important, but if you are having a lot of conflict or feel distanced, it might be difficult to enjoy time together. Discussing and resolving the reasons behind conflict can help you reconnect. Busyness is a common reason for disconnection. Too much time spent with kids, work, and other distractions can pull you apart and make one or both of you feel unloved. It’s not just the time together that counts, but rather how you spend the time in ways that foster rebuilding intimacy and trust. What are some specific actions you both commit to taking if you begin to pull apart?
Follow-up: Are there any behavior adjustments you’d like to request from your partner related to emotional intimacy? What specific action steps will you both take to help enhance your closeness and connection? Write these down and determine how and when you will initiate these changes or actions.