Lack of Intimacy in Marriage

3 Things I Learned the Hard Way about How to Get It Back

I remember what lack of intimacy was like in my marriage—terrible.

It made me feel like what’s the point of even being married?! Every interaction was a painful reminder that we were NOT having deep conversations, flirting, or laughing together.

There was no emotional intimacy and then no physical intimacy either.

I felt rejected and neglected. I did not feel desired, something that’s really important to me.

Since we’d started out with so much connection and playfulness before, I knew what I was missing, which made it even worse!

I couldn’t tell myself, “This is just what happens when you’ve been married for a while.” Even if that were true, it didn’t stop me from wanting the intimacy back, even though I’d forgotten why I chose my husband.

So it was pretty confusing and miserable for a few years.

But here are 3 things I learned about where the intimacy went and how to get it back.

1. Control and Intimacy Are Opposites

How to get intimacy in marriage

I did a lot of instructing, encouraging, cajoling, insisting, and demanding that John do things my way—the right way. I thought I was being helpful by teaching him things that I knew more about, but I was actually being a steamroller.

What I didn’t realize is that control and intimacy are opposites, like light and dark.

Now I know that if I want intimacy, I have to be willing to just let him be himself. Which meant I had to learn how to stop being so helpful! And that was hard for me!

Every helpful suggestion I made about how he should dress, drive, eat, or clean was chipping away at the intimacy. It still does when I get to feeling like a smarty pants again, which happens from time to time.

If I want intimacy, I have to give up trying to control and stay on my own paper instead. Learning how to do that was a revelation, and I’m so grateful for that now because controlling is exhausting and backfires. It’s also disrespectful, which leads me to the second thing I learned about how to get intimacy back…

2. Respect Is like Oxygen for Men

Respect is a part of intimacy

Of course, everyone wants to feel respected, but for my husband, and maybe yours too, respect is like oxygen. He’ll suffocate without it.

Part of the reason he chose me was because I admired him so much and I thought he was so smart.

But then I gradually started telling him how to load the dishwasher, which lane to drive in, and what to eat for lunch. So my control was very disrespectful, but it wasn’t the only way I was disrespectful.

I started to expect the worst from him, instead of the best. I also interrupted him, rolled my eyes, laughed at his ideas, and walked away while he was talking.

I was kinder to strangers than to the man I swore to love forever.

Pretty embarrassing!

There are lots of ways to be disrespectful. I tried them all and none of them feels good to me now. They all make me feel hairy and dirty. Blech!

They also cost me intimacy big time. You can’t have an intimate marriage without the oxygen of respect, in my experience.

To restore the intimacy, consider reviewing how you’re doing with respect.

3. Intimacy Is Not for Sissies

Support for intimacy in marriage

One of the big gifts that came out of the breakdown in my marriage was that I discovered that I was a scaredy-cat!

I was scared all the time. I focused on what I was scared about and gave it a voice. All. Day. Long.

To stop controlling and become more respectful, I had to become more courageous. Developing courage muscles seemed like a big hill to climb at first.

Picture a training montage where someone starts out all out of shape. But then you see them get all fit and strong by the end.

It was just like that, but I went from being anxious all the time to being braver and more confident.

I developed the ability to feel my fear coming up and not act on it. Like when I decided to trust him to choose investments for our retirement even though I was scared we’d lose money.

I realized that didn’t mean I was right, only that I was afraid.

It still feels like a superpower because in the beginning, it didn’t seem possible.

I wondered, “How am I ever going to stop acting on my fear and learn to choose my faith? How am I ever going to have anything to say if I don’t give voice to my fears?”

My superpower really improved when I started hanging around other women who were practicing the same thing.

We all got braver together and supported each other in choosing our faith. That turned out to be great for the intimacy in my marriage and for theirs too.

So it’s interesting to think about what might happen in your marriage if you were highly skilled at choosing your faith every day. It might just bring back the intimacy that you crave.

Now that you know what I learned, what are you learning about where the intimacy went and how you might get it back?

By Laura Doyle

Hi! I'm Laura.

New York Times Bestselling Author

I was the perfect wife--until I actually got married. When I tried to tell my husband how to be more romantic, more ambitious, and tidier, he avoided me. I dragged him to marriage counseling and nearly divorced him. I then started talking to women who had what I wanted in their marriages and that’s when I got my miracle. The man who wooed me returned.

I wrote a few books about what I learned and accidentally started a worldwide movement of women who practice The Six Intimacy Skills™ that lead to having amazing, vibrant relationships. The thing I’m most proud of is my playful, passionate relationship with my hilarious husband John–who has been dressing himself since before I was born.

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