How To Cope With A Lack Of Intimacy In Your Marriage

Updated August 22, 2023by Regain Editorial Team

Having a lack of intimacy in your marriage can be troubling for some people. While some couples are happy to have less intimacy in their marriage, many spouses benefit from heightened intimacy. When there is a lack of affection and intimacy in a relationship, there are several things that you can do to bring it back.

Intimacy Issues Can Be Difficult To Discuss With Your Partner

No Intimacy In Marriage

It can be important to note that intimacy does not necessarily mean sexual intimacy. Intimacy can also look like kissing, holding hands, hugs out of nowhere, and cuddling at night before bed. Of course, sex can be a part of intimacy, but it is not usually considered a problem in most marriages unless you have sex ten times or fewer per year.

It can be natural for any long-term relationship, especially a marriage, to decrease in intimacy as the years go by. Your routines can change, and sexual intimacy may become predictable and boring. There can also be a natural decrease in intimacy as a couple gets older, reaches middle age, or approaches the later years of life. Several factors can contribute to a lack of intimacy or a sexless marriage in your relationship, and each must be addressed individually.

Intimacy In Marriage

You can build intimacy in your marriage by communicating with your spouse. First, it can be crucial to let your spouse know what you need from the relationship. If that looks like spending more time together or cuddling to watch a movie, try that. On the other hand, if improved intimacy for you would mean spicing up your sexual relationship, then this may be what you need to work on with your spouse.

Open communication can often be key to intimacy in marriage. It can be important for you and your spouse to communicate with each other about what you need in your relationship. Without open communication, including talks about what you want and need from a sexual experience, couples may not be able overcome obstacles such as mismatched libidos or mismatched sexual preferences as easily. Clear and consistent communication could help each of you move forward together into greater satisfaction. 

Often, increased intimacy can be achieved in a marriage by becoming closer as a couple and getting out of the rut and routine that you have been engrained in over time. This can require a lot of communication and a willingness on both sides to give their partner what they truly need to be sexually satisfied and to feel intimate within their marriage. Below are some habits of intimate couples that you can try to incorporate into your own marriage: 

Practice Intimacy Exercises 

There are several intimacy exercises that you can do with your spouse or partner that can help you build intimacy in your marriage over time. Using these exercises regularly can allow them to be as effective as possible and help you and your spouse become closer both emotionally and physically.

Remember The Past

Both you and your partner can come up with a list of five times that you felt particularly intimate and close with one another. It is okay if your lists don’t match up. What defines intimacy for one spouse may not be the same for the other. This is just one point of the exercise—to learn what intimacy means to each of you. Once you can identify what makes each of you feel connected to the other, you can work together to decide what you can do to feel more intimate as a couple.

Ilona Titova/EyeEm

Open The Lines Of Communication

It can be awkward for some people to talk about intimacy and sex, even with a partner that they have had for years. Yet, communication can be key in figuring out what intimacy means to each of you. Practice being open and honest about your wants and needs, and let your partner know what they can do to support you in these areas. 

Remember Why You Were Attracted To Your Partner

The chances are that your marriage started much more intimate than it has become. Think back to those days before the wedding and those first few months or years of marriage. Remember the honeymoon period. What attracted you to your spouse? What made your sex life satisfying? What made you fall in love? All these things can help you remember the intimacy you once shared and may lead you to want more of it again. 

Extend Your Cuddle Time

If you and your spouse have difficulty with being physically affectionate, cuddling may be a simple way to increase the physical intimacy within the relationship without jumping straight to sex. Some couples find that cuddling each night before bed helps them feel more connected. Others like to cuddle throughout the day or during move night a few times each week. Discuss cuddling time with your partner to come up with a compromise that you can both stick to.

Intimate Conversation

One of the first steps toward building intimacy in your marriage can be opening the lines of communication with your spouse. While you may not be able to jump right into an intimate conversation, you can build your connection with your spouse over time and become more comfortable with each other. Once you reach a certain level of trust and closeness with your spouse, you may be able to talk about your sexual and emotional intimacy issues without fear or reproach. 

It can take time to learn how to communicate with your partner more productively. Active listening can be vital, which involves listening not to respond, but to understand. Achieving emotional intimacy first can help you and your spouse reach physical intimacy more easily. 

Getty/AnnaStills
Intimacy Issues Can Be Difficult To Discuss With Your Partner

When To Get Help

In some instances, these and other exercises may not be enough to generate intimacy between two people who seem to have grown apart. You deserve to be in a healthy marriage, and it can be important to be able to recognize when your efforts are not enough. There are some signs that you may need to get additional help with your marriage. Some of these can include:

  • You have had sex fewer than 11 times in the last 12 months

  • You have tried the above exercises, and you still don’t feel closer to your partner

  • You or your partner have past trauma that is affecting your ability to be intimate

  • The decrease in sex is due to increased problems in the relationship that need to be addressed

  • You don’t know how to communicate with your partner without help

  • You are worried that your marriage will end in divorce without intimacy

If you cannot restore intimacy in your marriage alone, it may be time to start thinking about finding professional help. 

Online Counseling With Regain

One of the most effective ways to address intimacy problems in your marriage can be seeking the advice of a professional. Regain is an online counseling platform that offers advice and guidance to couples experiencing a variety of issues. A couples therapist can work with you and your spouse to figure out why intimacy has left and how to bring it back into the relationship. They may be able to help you identify unmet needs, resentment, or problems you hadn’t considered. However, seeing a couples counselor may not be an easy thing to do. If you and your spouse don’t have matching work schedules or have demanding careers during business hours, it may be difficult to find a therapist or counselor to fit you in when you are available. With online therapy, you can meet at a time that works for each of you and connect over the phone, through video chats, or even in-app messaging. This can often make getting the care you need simpler and more convenient.

The Efficacy Of Online Counseling 

Couples experiencing a lack intimacy in their marriage may benefit from online counseling. In one study, researchers found evidence that couples counseling delivered via videoconferencing was an effective alternative to face-to-face interventions. Though therapeutic alliance did not vary between the online and face-to-face groups, it did increase substantially with time for each group. Further, results showed improvements in relationship satisfaction, mental health, and all other outcome scores over time.

Counselor Reviews

“Rhonda has been very helpful and consistent over the past few months as I worked through issues related to fear of intimacy. Her observations have shed light on aspects of myself that I took for granted, which I realize now are actually are holding me back and are in my power to change. I would gladly work with Rhonda again, and recommend her without hesitation.”

“Emily is a very effective counselor in our very first call she drilled down and uncovered some of our intimacy issues and gave us a game plan to help resolve them. She's timely, easy to talk to, listens but also gives advice (which I've found uncommon with some professionals). We'd use her again and recommend her in a heart beat.”

The Takeaway

There can be several different explanations for experiencing a lack of intimacy within your marriage. While many strong, happy marriages exist without physical intimacy, many others need and thrive on it. You and your spouse may feel alone in this battle, but neither of you are. By practicing open and honest communication, you can uncover what each of you is missing within the marriage and work on making improvements together. Enlisting the help of a couples therapist can be beneficial for problems that feel too overwhelming to face on your own. 

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