A few years ago, I wrote a book called "Emotional Fitness for Intimacy." Out of 52 chapters, there was only one on sex. Maybe that's why it wasn't a best seller.
Intimacy doesn't mean having a sex life that rivals something out of "50 Shades of Grey." Of course, true intimacy is much sweeter than that. It is an exchange of tender energy between two people who love each other deeply. The intimacy that you exchange with a loving partner can turn bad days into good ones and make your troubles seem much smaller. Without it, your ability to take on the world can be greatly compromised.
The most important intimate moments are those that happen outside of the bedroom. Reaching your arms around your partner's waist and giving a squeeze when he or she is working away in the kitchen or around the house is very endearing. Holding hands while you are walking into a store or going out for a stroll together in the park is a bonding experience. There are countless ways to be intimate, and most of them aren't sexual.
Sometimes when two people have had a long period of being off-course, rebuilding intimacy can be a challenge. At first, neither of you may be feeling it, but you can take heart because simply saying to each other that you want and need more can be all that's required to get things moving in the right direction. When we choose to be distant from someone we love, they feel it. The road back to intimacy can be awkward, but all that you need to move forward may be a brief discussion and a long hug.
To get back on track, be kind to your partner by doing simple things like opening the door or bringing home something you know he or she has been wanting. Cooking a favorite meal for your partner or suggesting a restaurant for a dinner that you think you will both enjoy are other ways of showing affection to the one you love. These actions build intimacy.
Once greater intimacy becomes a regular part of life, you will get so used to it that when your partner isn't around, you will feel a strong sense of longing. Having an intimate relationship is what most of us desire yet often fail to communicate and demonstrate to our mates.
Another way to build intimacy is to praise your love in front of others. It feels good to overhear the ones we love talking to someone else about how wonderful we are. Most of us like to hear ourselves talked about in positive terms, and receiving this kind of praise makes us feel good about ourselves and our relationships.
Giving and showing intimacy is highly underrated. Many people don't realize how powerful these little acts can actually be. You can change the course of a bad relationship and make a good relationship great just by being a little more loving and creating, as well as enjoying, greater intimacy between the two of you.
(Dr. Barton Goldsmith, a psychotherapist in Westlake Village, Calif., is the author, most recently, of "The Happy Couple -- How to Make Happiness a Habit One Little Loving Thing at a Time." Email him at Barton@BartonGoldsmith.com. Follow his daily insights at www.twitter.com/@BartonGoldsmith.)
(Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service, www.shns.com)