The road toward true relationship intimacy can be a long and winding one full of curves, highs, and lows. The unconditional acceptance, reciprocal love and affection in a truly intimate marriage relationship is the ultimate prize worth fighting for. When the initial romance wanes, and it does in all relationships, it’s time to get to work and start building a stronger relationship. It’s important to understand how men and women contribute to relationships differently to understand what intimacy means to them.

Achieving True Intimacy is Rare

Think of achieving true relationship intimacy as a journey or long-term goal. Relationships after all are complicated, sometimes requiring maintenance and intervention as they age. Unlike the honeymoon phase of marriage, the power struggle phase can last decades if couples don’t learn how to communicate productively. One must know one’s true self before they can learn to surrender to their partner completely.

Respect and love are integral to intimacy in all relationships. Let’s discuss the secret recipe for building a stronger relationship and deeper connection with your husband or wife so you can enjoy more intimacy.

Masculine & Feminine Energy

Did you know yin-yang represents feminine (yin) energy and masculine (yang) energy in the spiritual world? All humans possess both feminine (yin) and masculine (yang) trees regardless of whether they are men or women. The philosophy is that any variable combination of yin and yang make a whole (person). Sometimes we lean more toward masculine sometimes but may mask our energy to protect it by exhibiting the traits of the opposite.

Intimacy is Different for Men and Women

Before we dish the tasty recipe for more intimacy let’s learn how different intimacy is for men and women. While sex can be considered a form or byproduct of intimacy does not mean sex. Not for women anyway. There are a few basic needs men and women have that are prerequisites for intimacy.

Men Crave Unconditional Respect

While individual differences vary, men tend to feel more connected to their wives when they feel they are respected. Some of the highest needs for men to become more intimate include the following.

  • Feel respected
  • Feeling admired
  • Feeling needed
  • Feeling successful
  • Feeling attractive
  • Feeling appreciated

Many men would rather feel lonely or ignored but respected than disrespected and loved. Feeling heard is also important for men, especially as it relates to respect. Men tend to be more visually stimulated to feel attracted to women.

Men tend to feel more connected to their wives and more willing to be intimate when their wives are happy. It’s not rocket science. Women’s proclivity towards verbal communication can sometimes be overwhelming for their husbands, especially when he feels she yells, complains, or is angry often.

Oftentimes women want to discuss many things at once which can be overwhelming for their husbands. This is especially true if it is something involving conflict. If you anticipate conflict it’s wise to schedule a time when you are both calm and use Imago dialogue worksheets to help guide the conversation for productive communication. One of the key indicators of a healthy relationship is effective conflict resolution after all.

Men crave feeling needed by their wives. It makes them feel more masculine and appeals to their hero instinct. When a wife makes her husband feel like she really needs him or needs help with things it ignites a sense of primal fulfillment. Men love to feel like

Women Want to Be Cherished

For most women necessary precursors for intimacy in a relationship involve emotional connection and affection. Women want to feel cherished and loved unconditionally like goddesses.

  • Feeling a strong emotional bond
  • Feeling loved
  • Feeling heard
  • Feeling understood

Don’t get me wrong, women want (and should) be respected by their husbands as well. It’s the priority of respect over other expectations that tends to be disproportionate between the sexes.

Women highly value communication, affection, and emotional reciprocity. For a woman feeling heard does not mean her husband offers advice or tries to fix any of the “problems” she shares with him. Offering unsolicited advice when your wife vulnerably shares her thoughts makes her feel like you were never listening but waiting for your chance to offer your “expertise” the entire time.

Women crave physical intimacy through affection more often than through sex. While women crave sexual intimacy at times as well their need for physical intimacy leans much farther toward affection than men’s in many cases.

Tips for Women

Pick your battles. You can’t change him and shouldn’t try to. He is not you. When you feel yourself getting worked up about something that’s not worth the fight bite your tongue, take a deep breath, and let it go. This doesn’t mean you are being a submissive wife or that your input doesn’t matter. It means you have the self-control to avoid unnecessary conflict. He doesn’t want to be “mothered” by his wife. Support his decisions to show that you trust him his abilities and decisions even if you can see the train wreck coming.

Because men feel closer to their wives and happier in their relationships when their wife appears happy and satisfied women who are trying to improve intimacy could benefit from having more fun! Self-care doesn’t always have to be meditation and yoga – maybe broadway musicals or having lunch with a friend make you happy.

Try to do at least one thing a day that you really enjoy like jogging, watching a funny show, or streaming cat videos on TikTok. You could get a mani-pedi, go to the hair salon, or go shopping. Whatever makes you happy and sets of the Doing at least one thing you enjoy every day will help offset the stress of managing everyday household tasks and childcare.

Tips for Men

Because communication skills come so naturally to most women you may have to get out of our comfort zone so that you wife can truly feel heard and understood. She may want to discuss subjects that you don’t agree with her about, or talk about things that evoke an uncomfortable emotional response from you. Listen even when it is hard, and speak words of affirmation and validation afterward.

When you allow your wife to express and communicate with you in such a vulnerable way the shared experience increases her feelings of intimacy tremendously. Allow yourself to become vulnerable to so that you can both truly surrender to one another.

Physical Intimacy Problems

A lack of sex in marriage does not mean a couple cannot still have intimacy in their marriage. People go through phases and sometimes have physical intimacy droughts. However, if the sexless marriage persists for years and becomes a problem for one partner it should be addressed.

If the husband developed a porn addiction to self-satisfy his cravings for physical intimacy or started looking for a physical connection with someone else outside of the marriage you need to get help. Attend an immersive boot-camp style marriage counseling retreat to help get to the bottom of the actual problem.

Sometimes childhood trauma can cause intimacy issues and intimacy avoidance. There could also be physical causes like medication side effects or medical conditions can cause avoidant behavior. Also, a partner who becomes use to self-satisfaction from looking at sexual images of porn instead of their partner is undermining the intimacy of the relationship.

A Better Way to Feel Heard

Feeling heard is important for both men and women to surrender into emotional intimacy, so it’s worth delving a little deeper into hacks to help your spouse feel heard. There are a few things you can practice next time he or she wants to talk and you feel yourself starting to think of solutions to their “problems”.

  • When your partner is talking to you stop, look into your partner’s eyes and listen. When the timing is right, say “I hear you”.
  • Mention something your husband or wife communicated to you that was important to them earlier in the week to show that you were listening.
  • Take turns sitting on one end of the couch while one partner holds the other’s head in their lap and asks questions about their partner like “what was it like when you were a kid?” or “What was it like growing up in your hometown?”

Help Creating More Intimacy in Your Marriage

Need help navigating intimacy issues in your marriage? Schedule a free 30 minute clarity call with Rabbi Shlomo Slatkin or request an appointment online. Check out the upcoming couples therapy retreats in Costa Rica and Baltimore MD by The Marriage Restoration Project.

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Jennifer Long

Jennifer Long is a writer, author, and multiple hat wearer with experience across many different industries.