No matter how long you’ve been in a relationship with someone, whether it be weeks, months, or years, building emotional intimacy is essential to the strength and happiness of your relationship (it also plays a big role in physical intimacy). Married couples will often seek outside help when they start to feel as though they have grown apart and no longer feel loved by one another. The step to preventing and fixing this common problem lies in emotional intimacy. So, how can you insure that your relationship is as intimate as it can possibly be?

Schedule Alone Time

One of the biggest contributions to couples feeling like they’ve grown apart is a distinct lack of quality time together. Middle aged couples often cite that their kids play a large role in their inability to spend time alone. Other couples are plagued by opposing work schedules. Despite the cause, scheduling out a chunk of time (and hiring a babysitter) goes a long way in allowing couples to recharge and reconnect with one another.

Leave Your Judgements at the Door

We are firm believers and practitioners of unconditional love here, and that means that we love and accept our partners, flaws and all, wanting nothing in return. If we are constantly bombarding them with judgements or criticisms when they open up to us, they are seldom to do so for much longer. We must be a trusted and safe confidant for our spouses so that the line of communication isn’t closed in fear of judgement.

Expand Your Emotional Vocabulary

More often than not, we fall short when describing how we feel to our partners. We never just feel angry, or sad, or happy. There are always a mix of at least a handful of other emotions tagging along. Emotional intimacy relies on honesty, so opening up and speaking on all the complex emotions you feel can help to establish a deeper connection.

Give Up the Desire to Be Right

It can be difficult to believe that we made our partner “feel that way,” so it becomes easy to shift the blame and focus it on other variables. Instead, shifting our reaction from denial to curiosity opens up the conversation to healthier, more beneficial routes. Our partner will respond in kind, feeling as though we are truly trying to understand what they are saying and feeling, rather than just discussing it as a means to an end. Curiosity also allows us to identify problem behaviors or habits that make our partners feel disconnected from us.

In one word, emotional intimacy equals communication. In order to be emotionally intimate, we must be open and honest and communicate all that makes us who we are. We must also be open to conflict and understand that it is not always the negative situation it is made out to be. Conflict in relationships, if handled properly, can lead to a stronger and healthier union because it enhances emotional intimacy.