Welcome to week five of our deep dive into learning what relationship intimacy is and how to create more of it in your closest relationship. If you are joining for the first time with this post, I want to encourage you to go back to the initial post about what relationship intimacy is and discover the different ways to start connecting differently with your partner and experience how these start to increase the breadth and depth of intimacy with your partner. We started with the article on Three Ways To Increase Spiritual Intimacy. Then we talked about How To Increase Mental Intimacy. Then we dug into emotional intimacy; you can check that article out here: What Is Emotional Intimacy and How To Get More of it in Your Relationship.
This week we are talking about my favorite form of connecting with others because I absolutely LOVE creating experiences in my life. When I share these experiences with others, it seems to increase the experiential enjoyment triple-fold. Now don’t get me wrong, I love my solo experiences. Still, when I get to share an experience with others, it gives me someone else to talk to about the experience, someone else who experienced it in a whole different way which enriches my experience.
To start learning how to increase experiential intimacy in your relationship let’s start with a definition of what experiential intimacy even is.
Starting with this definition of intimacy: showing a close union or combination of particles or elements: an intimate mixture.
Then looking at the definition of experience: which is a particular instance of personally encountering or undergoing something as in an event or occurrance.
Combining those two definitions gives us a definition of experiential intimacy being encountering or undergoing something together, in close union; creating an intimate mixture through a personal encounter with your partner.
Why is creating experiences together important in creating overall intimacy?
First, I want to make it clear that having things that you do on your own or with other people, without your partner’s participation, is very important. I wrote this article that you might want to read about How To Create Great Connection In Your Marriage and in it, I talk about creating a list of different ways you crave connection. Then finding people who are great matches for those connections, your partner will not be the one to fulfill all of your connection desires and that’s important, as well as freeing, to know. BUT, it’s also important to know that finding new ways to connect with your partner and being curious about what those ways might be will be another avenue to relationship growth.
I often hear my clients talk about how their partner doesn’t like helping in the kitchen or doesn’t like doing the types of things they like doing, and I like to challenge them to question these thoughts. These types of thoughts keep us stuck in blame, resentment, and avoidance. I like to ask questions around these thoughts and start to poke holes in them, questions like, how might your husband enjoy helping in the kitchen or what are the sorts of things you have done with your partner in the past that either of you might not have fully enjoyed but gladly participated in because it meant spending time with the other? When we have thoughts that close us down from what we want, it’s always helpful to look at how we might be creating evidence that our thought is true.
How to increase experiential intimacy in your relationship.
By this point in the series, you’re probably noticing a repeating theme and that repeating theme is intentionality. Asking yourself what you might try to increase your relationship’s mutual experiences, ask yourself how you could get participation by trying different approaches. Let me start with an approach that most likely won’t increase participation: “Well, I know you don’t like going for long walks with me, but would you like to go anyway?” Ask yourself how you might want to be invited along on an experience with your partner while also knowing that you have the full ability to say “No thank you.” and still feel love and maybe even come up with some compromise. I do not want to encourage you to do something you don’t want to do, but if you want to spend some time getting to know your partner, what about that thing might you want to enjoy participating in? In other words, how might you look differently at the invitation to do something with your partner when you think about your desire to pursue new experiences and connect with your partner. Could you look forward to the afterward part of spending time doing something they wanted to do, something you would never have wanted to do on your own, and see how the time spent was time well worth it when it comes to deepening your connection with your partner.
Besides being willing to spend time doing what your partner wants to do, what is it you want them to do with you and why? The why is what’s important here. Them spending time with you or not doesn’t have to mean that they love you or that they don’t love you; it can simply mean they aren’t interested. Can you be ok with that? From there, how might you generate some interest and willingness in your partner to do things with you? How might you invite them to help out in the kitchen or participate in activities you enjoy doing? Again, look at your approach and how it might be creating a tension that is creating resistance for them in their willingness to join you.
Let’s look at some examples of how you can create experiential intimacy.
- My background was thirty years of coaching athletes to perform at a higher level, helping them break through limiting beliefs, so let’s go with the example of working out together or, even better, finding something to workout together for, like a competition or a race or an endurance event. Preparing together gives you the experience of helping each other out and supporting each other along the way. After the event is completed, you can look back and have shared memories of the experience.
- Here’s one for those of you who think your partner doesn’t help out in the kitchen. Meals are a daily event; even though many of your weekday meals might not be much of an event, they are still a process where both can participate and enjoy each other’s company. Maybe it’s sharing duties with one partner creating the main meal and the other partner cleaning up or doing the other dinner necessities like preparing the table, prepping the beverages, cleaning up as you go along. If you think that your partner isn’t interested in participating, I would like you to challenge yourself to question why you think this thought. Could it be possible that he fears doing it “right”? How might you help show him how you would like the table set or how you would like the beverage served, or how could you be ok with him doing it his way and not judging it as wrong? Taking everyday tasks and finding ways to make them enjoyable is how we create deeper connections while working them into our everyday routine.
- What about outdoor activities? How could you incorporate cooperation? Maybe one person decides what you will do and where you’ll go while the other person takes care of all of the other details, like any supplies you might need to have a comfortable experience?
- What else do you enjoy doing, or are you interested in doing? Something you could start exploring with your partner? Short mini-vacations or day trips to local towns or cities you haven’t explored or camping or canoeing, perusing through a local museum or art show, the farmer’s market, discover something new and explore while learning more about each other.
Notice what thoughts come up for you around any suggestions and how you might be turning them into “no’s” and why. If your partner chooses to say yes and if while you are sharing the activity, you catch yourself thinking thoughts like “they’re bored,” or “they aren’t having any fun,” or “they aren’t participating.” Explore how you might express your thoughts and feelings, another way to explore deeper emotional intimacy and observe how you are judging them versus enjoying the experience. I love to ask myself how I can get out of his business and how can I enjoy this time together?
Creating experiences with your partner after a dry spell of being separate and not doing many activities together will take some planning, as I talked about in previous episodes; I want to encourage you to go back and listen to my post about Scheduling Time To Improve Your Relationship and start taking baby steps, use these steps to learn, not to close down and give up, and find out what it’s like to have your own back when it comes to creating the relationship you love.
If you want help with any of the material I shared today, I want to encourage you to reach out; I would love to help you find more ease around creating experiences with your partner.
I am a life coach who works with individuals to break down relationship barriers by awakening their true self. My process isn’t about changing your partner, it’s about discovering who you are so that you can AwakenYou in your marriage. If you’re ready to take your life and your love relationship to the next level then schedule your program inquiry call today and let’s decide together if this is your next step to creating the life you’ve been dreaming of.