You’re in a relationship, love your partner and everything seems fine. Okay, so it’s not as magical or sparkly as it once was, but…fine. Feeling more connected to each other would be great, but you’re both so busy.
Sound familiar? Countless couples fall into an intimacy rut at some point. While a bit of hum-drum complacency here and there is generally no big deal, it can lead to discontent, less fulfillment in other life areas and even crises if it carries on consistently unaddressed. Luckily, there are many ways to nurture connectedness with your partner, even when you’re strapped for time.
Last month, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Megan Fleming, PhD and Kait Scalisi, MPH, pros who work with couples, to chat about these very things, including ways we cultivate stronger intimacy on a daily basis. We also explored their work, ways to feel sexy, our fantasy lives and more—it was so fun, and chock-full of fun and practical takeaways.
1. Savor hellos and goodbyes.
When you last saw your partner, did you really see each other? Or did you whiz right past each other as one of you flew out the door? Taking even a minute to consciously connect when you reunite or part ways can be powerful, according to Kait.
She credits Gretchen Rubin for this practice, and uses it with her own partner and as a recommendation for couples in workshops she leads.
“Basically the idea is that instead of rushing around with quick hellos or quick goodbyes, taking time to make them special, and not a whole lot of time,” she said. “A minute to hug each other, get that nice little kick of oxytocin going to connect you and feel more intimate and committed.”
2. Ask better questions.
Another practice Kait uses and recommends turns small talk into something deeper by asking more meaningful questions.
“When we’re together, instead of saying, ‘How was your day?’ We’ll say, ‘What are you most proud of?’” she explained. “It allows us to look more deeply at our days, and also share things that aren’t just surface level.”
Megan described a similar practice she shares with her kids, which seems brilliant for chats with a partner, too:
“I ask, ‘What was your rose, what was your bud—the thing that’s emerging, that you’re looking forward to—and what was your thorn?’ It’s an opportunity to instill in a sense a practice around examining your day and seeing that all three can exist. So often, we have that negativity bias and we’re focused on what we don’t have or hasn’t happened or the pain of the day, rather than a conscious reminder of what was good and what’s becoming.”
3. Prioritize keeping things hot.
One of Megan’s missions is to help couples see that relationships are work, and work isn’t a dirty word. It takes couples an average of six to seven years of resentment to get into therapy, based on research conducted by John Gottman. By this time things are entrenched, she said, adding that while such crises can be opportunities for growth and reconnection, many struggles can be prevented by prioritizing keeping your relationship hot.
“Monogamy doesn’t equal monotony and you have to put in some time and energy to keep the flame,” she said.
4. Try something new.
The brain adores novelty, sending off feel-good chemicals when we try something new. Those chemicals are the same ones that fly free when we’re falling in love, meaning we can keep kindling those sensations over time, with the added perks of being with someone who knows us on a deep level and vice versa. Doing so doesn’t require major, life-alterning shifts. The “something new” could be as simple as trying a new restaurant, making love in a different room or acting on a fantasy for the first time.
This is one reason I love trying new sex toys, like Pulse III Duo—a super unique toy for penis masturbation and couple play—I talked about in the episode. (Blog review and giveaway coming next week!) For a 20% discount, click the add in my sidebar or enter the code GB20 at HotOctopuss.com.
How do you keep your relationship hot? What daily practice do you use to boost intimacy? What did you think of the episode? I love hearing from you!