Creating Emotional Intimacy -- It's All in the Little Things

As a marriage and family therapist, I frequently hear couples complain that their partner is unresponsive to their needs or  “is never there for them.” Sometimes a partner expresses feeling invisible or unimportant and that he or she is always at the bottom of the priority list. The partner who is being asked to be more responsive is often at a loss for what to do differently.

Some theorists suggest that real romantic love exists in the little things that partners do to demonstrate how much they value each other (Gottman, 2012). True caring is exhibited in the moments when your partner reaches out to you and you share a special moment. Happy couples are able to do this even when they want or need to be doing something else. For example, leaving a loving or encouraging voicemail or text when you know your partner is down shows that you care and  listening to each other even when other inviting distractions may be present expresses thoughtfulness and commitment.

Sharing these special moments makes partners feel closer, and helps to strengthen emotional intimacy, a key element in every romantic relationship. Emotional intimacy is what gets couples through those rough times. Partners who feel close, are more likely to unite against a problem instead of having it divide them.

Relationship experts, John and Julie Gottman, offer that “Marriage isn’t just about raising kids, doing chores and making love.” It’s about creating an emotional connection that includes both partner’s hopes, dreams and even fears and a desire to help each other achieve them. Strengthening emotional intimacy can begin right now …  with an awareness of the little things that you can do to show each other how much you care. You might be amazed at the results!

Dr. Laura Richter Licensed Marriage and Family TherapistLaura Richter, Ph.D.

Licensed Married and Family Therapist


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