24 Feb 2022
Tips for Building, Establishing and/or Re-establishing Intimacy
24 Feb 2022
When people consider therapy, they tend to think about one-on-one sessions where client and therapist work together to address mental health concerns that may impact health, work environment and relationships – thus, at the level of the individual. What is not usually thought about is the critical role that therapy may play in the developing, strengthening and even healing of relationships. At Natural Choice Medical Clinic, I offer gender and sexually diverse partner/couples therapy, grounded in broader theories that may impact relationships outside of the individuals within them. (e.g., attachment, sexual minority stressors, socio-cultural “norms” (positive and negative influences on relationships), etc.). I do this all while aiming the development of coping skills at relationship concerns that have led them to seek support in the first place: feelings of isolation, increasing frequency of conflict, separation, lack of intimacy, and so on.
It’s often assumed that therapy is reserved for those experiencing infidelity, abuse or neglect, however, in most cases communication difficulties are found at the core, regardless of experienced behaviours within the relationship.
Some of these behaviours or external outcomes of this lack of communication may include (partner 1/partner 2):
- Emotionally distancing oneself from partner/partner feeling unsupported and emotionally dismissed
- Falling “out” of love/confusion
- Unwillingness to provide support (behaviours and/or emotions) to partner/feeling unsupported, lonely, isolated
- Lack of interest in intimacy (physical and emotional)/feeling rejected, unappreciated, unattractive
- Escalating conflict/defensive-offensive
Couples may also experience concerns around the more practical, everyday experiences as a couple, as parents and as individuals; in these instances, conflict may arise relating to:
- Differences in parenting styles
- Mismanagement and disagreement on finances
- Unequal decision making within the household
- Difficulties with in-laws, friendships, work, or life stressors
- Abuse (psychological, physical, verbal)
- Mental illness
Many of these experiences may be rooted in much deeper psychological and social influences, including early parent-child interactions (e.g., neglect, abuse, loss, etc.) that may dramatically impact adult relationships (e.g., unhealthy dependence or independence); societal and cultural influences (e.g., internalized homophobia, sexual and gender minority stressors, etc.) and individual experiences of trauma and mental health concerns.
Each of these concerns may be addressed within the therapeutic environment through development of coping skills/mechanisms, behavioural and cognitive techniques for management of stressors as individuals and within the relationship dyad, and through exploring more deeply the root of relationship development and patterns of relating across the lifespan.
Reconnecting: Tips for Building, Establishing and/or Re-establishing Intimacy
1. Face your partner in a seated position. Move so close to one another that your knees are nearly touching, and look into each other’s eyes for 3-5 minutes. Don’t speak.
2. Cuddle more often!
3. Either lie down on your side by your partner or sit upright with your partner and gently put your foreheads together.
o Breathe at least seven slow, deep breaths in sync with your partner.
o Practice it whenever you feel the need to slow down and refocus on each other.
4. Let your partner talk. Your only role here is to listen. You can give your partner non-verbal encouragement or empathy through body language, facial expressions, or meaningful looks. When the timer goes off, switch roles
5. Checking in: Schedule a non-negotiable chunk of time (30 minutes is a good default) once a week for you and your partner to talk about how you both are doing, your relationship as a couple, any unfinished arguments or grievances, or any needs that are not being met.
If you are looking for support around relationships, whether in individual sessions or couples therapy, book a FREE 15 meet and greet with me at Natural Choice Medical Clinic in Guelph. I offer in person and virtual sessions.
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