As therapists, a common complaint many couples come to us with is the lack of sexual intimacy, which makes them feel unhappy and distant in their relationship.
Couples often assume the cause of this rift in their relationship is either work-related stress, or because they prioritise children, family or other matters over each other. Sometimes, certain couples may even think their partner no longer finds them physically attractive because their body has changed over the years, and this is what has led to their struggles with intimacy.
However, from our experience, the root cause of the lack of physical intimacy is often the lack of emotional intimacy.
Emotional intimacy means being comfortable enough to let your guard down, be honest and share your insecurities and worries with your partner, and having the trust and faith that they will continue to love and support you, despite your imperfections. It also means being able to share your honest thoughts and feelings openly with your partner, without any fear of judgement or shame.
For partners to communicate their thoughts and feelings honestly with one another, they must create a sense of “safety” in their relationship.
This is not something that can be done overnight. Instead, safety in a relationship is cultivated over time through certain habits and traits. These include being empathetic to your partner’s feelings, providing them a listening ear and being non-judgmental. Oftentimes when we express our own opinions to our partners when they require our attention, we unknowingly make them withdraw and hide their true feelings.
One way to think of intimacy is “INTO-ME-SEE”. It means seeing into your partner beyond the surface – beyond their physical looks, beyond their words, beyond their actions. It means seeing and understanding their internal world of thoughts and feelings.
When emotional intimacy and safety are present, physical attraction and intimacy will naturally follow.
At the start, building emotional intimacy might seem like a daunting task. When you let certain matters in your relationship slide without addressing them, you may find that you will come to a point where you may have to seek couple’s therapy or marriage counselling. And finding the right person to talk to in a sea of therapists can be overwhelming. Both of us – Kavitha and Kester – are not just therapists, but a couple ourselves. And we know what it takes to make a relationship work. If you are seeking marriage counselling or couple’s therapy in Singapore, learn more about our services to find balance and restore your relationship.