Women will often say that they want more intimacy in their marriage. If you’ve had feelings like this, I want to give you something to think about.
Typically, when a wife complains about a lack of intimacy, she means that she and her husband are not having deep and candid conversations about things like each other’s true feelings, thoughts, and dreams.
However, intimacy can take different forms in a marriage. Some men — especially those with a more traditional upbringing— have an easier time with nonverbal intimacy than with building intimacy through conversation.
Paths and Roadblocks to Intimacy
When your husband seeks intimacy more physically than verbally, it’s easy to misunderstand his motivations. You may think things like, “It’s all about sex for him” and assume he’s only seeking you out to fulfill his own desires. Usually, the truth is more nuanced. Yes, he’s probably enjoying sex. However, he’s also seeking connection and intimacy with you in a way that just feels more comfortable for him.
When you seek intimacy through conversation and he seeks it through physical connection, neither of you is wrong. You just need to see that these are two different paths to feeling closer, and find a way to honor both.
To set the stage for more intimate conversations with your husband, make sure there’s an atmosphere of safety and respect in your marriage. Listen when he talks. (Put down your phone!) Be curious about what’s going on with him. And don’t micromanage or criticize him — would you want to open up to someone who is constantly getting after you?
Enhancing Nonverbal Intimacy
In addition to deepening your connection through conversation, appreciate the various forms of nonverbal intimacy in your marriage and look for ways to increase that too. I’m not just talking about sex. You could also…
- Offer physical comfort.
- Reassure or encourage with a squeeze of the shoulder or a gentle touch.
- Hold eye contact.
- Hold each other.
- Wink and smile.
- Gently caress his face, hair, or arm in a cherishing way.
- Sit close to each other.
- Speak quietly and lovingly.
- Lean on each other.
- Reach out and hold hands.
- Give him a pat on the butt.
- Walk arm-in-arm, holding hands, or arm-over-shoulder.
On their own, these gestures will bring the two of you closer together. They could also make it feel safer for your husband to risk opening up to the intimate conversations you’ve been longing for.
A Minute of Silence
I want to leave you with one of the most vivid reminders of the power of nonverbal intimacy that I know of. Perhaps you’ve heard of Marina Abramovic’s work “The Artist is Present” in which she sat across from strangers and shared a minute of silence with them. That’s intimate enough itself! But when Abramovic’s ex-love sits down, look at how much passes between them before they even speak a single word.
As Abramovic shows us, there’s nothing more powerful than the connection between people. Make it a priority to constantly build your connection with your husband, whatever form that intimacy takes. My book, Strong Women, Strong Love, can give you more ideas on how to stay close no matter how busy and hectic your lives are.