How to Reignite Your Marriage & Intimacy in 2019
By William Lovett, M.D.
“The journey through the seven levels of intimacy is a journey from the shallow to the deep, from irrelevant to relevant, from illegitimate desires to legitimate needs, from judgment to acceptance, from fear to courage, from false self to true self, from isolation to unity, and from loneliness to profound championship.”
– Matthew Kelly
Christmas is a very romantic time of year. With friends and family back in town and everyone in a merry mood, hundreds of couples will take the leap and get engaged over the holiday season. This loving commitment comes with a promise of intimacy – but what happens when something interrupts that intimacy? What can you do to reignite that spark?
Intimacy is more than just sex
First, I want to start with what intimacy isn’t. Intimacy is not just about sex. Many men get caught up in the idea that intimacy is strictly physical, but a healthy relationship has an intimacy that extends beyond sex.
Intimacy, then, is the moment two individuals establish a complete openness between each other.
This means there are no reservations; both people put all of their cards on the table and are willing to continue their relationship that way. Intimacy is about establishing a “oneness” between the couple and how they engage with each other and the world.
The 7 levels of intimacy
It’s common for new couples to try and rush intimacy (or mature couples to try and rebuild it quickly), but this often fails because they don’t understand that intimacy is a process, not a destination.
In fact, according to Matthew Kelly, a consultant and best-selling author, there are 7 levels of this intimacy process:
- Feeling attraction. Two people feel attraction for one another, even though the conversations are only informational (small talk).
- Sharing personal facts. They share interests and small, personal facts (ex. Where were you born? How many siblings do you have?)
- Discussing opinions. This phase starts to develop risk between two people as they begin sharing thoughts and opinions. They begin testing the waters to see if the other will accept them and their thoughts.
- Making sacrifices. They begin making sacrifices for the other person.
- Sharing feelings. They begin sharing their feelings with each other.
- Opening up. The pair discusses issues with previous relationships or other things that occurred in their life that created pain that may affect this relationship.
- Anticipating needs. The couple is able to anticipate the needs of the other (physical, emotional, intellectual).
Your relationship may slip into lower levels if any informational pieces were left out earlier in the relationship. Your relationship could also be in several levels at the same time, or skip levels. It all depends on the couple!
What about sex?
As you can see from the 7 levels above, sex isn’t a focus of any of the levels. Instead, it helps cement the bond developing in the different levels. If there are problems with intimacy, it can impact your sex life, and vice versa.
Many of our own patients struggle with physical intimacy issues, such as erectile dysfunction and female sexual dysfunction. These couples often lament that intimacy isn’t possible anymore, or that it’s difficult to be intimate when there is a physical or emotional disconnect between partners.
It’s common to feel alone, but it’s important to know that you aren’t. In fact, according to the Cleveland Clinic:
- 43% of women report some degree of female sexual dysfunction over the course of their life
- 31% of men report some form of erectile dysfunction during their lifetime
If that isn’t scary enough, that number is only self-reported; estimates for the number of people actually affected are much higher. Plus, sexual dysfunction gets worse with age.
What can you do about intimacy issues?
The first step is acknowledging there is a speedbump between you and your significant other’s sexual desires and needs. By having the courage to step out of your comfort zone, you can address the issue and reconnect with your spouse.
Research has shown that low hormones can impact your moods, desire, and ability to be physically intimate. There are a variety of treatments available, and here at Your Wellness Center, we make sure that you understand your options and are empowered to make the best decision for you and your relationship.
If you are ready to take control of your intimacy in 2019, you can get started by filling out our online health history form. This will give our providers a starting point before scheduling your first blood draw and consultation. The final decision in your treatment plan is always your decision. We hope to see you soon!