Intimacy is about being close and very personal. It’s more than just sex! It’s uniting our hearts together as one. The happiest marriages enjoy a very special kind of intimacy.

It’s probably no wonder that the biblical word for this type of intimacy is often rendered “to know“, connoting a sense of relational closeness, like you really know someone-strengths, weaknesses, and you still love them (warts and all!).  In this post, let’s talk about what intimacy is and what guiding principles couples can use to build deeper intimacy.

Vulnerability + Trust = Intimacy

Dr. Brene Brown, Professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, has studied what factors make relationships last and deepen. In all of her research, she’s found that willing to be vulnerable is the key. She explains vulnerability in this way:

“Vacillating between I am here and I love you…and I’m going to reveal my innermost to you…and I am scared to death that you’ll reject me.” Ironically, the vulnerability we try to desperately avoid may actually end up being the key to a successful relationship.

Being vulnerable is just the first part of the equation though. Trust is the next ingredient. Trust grows when a spouse decides to open up about his or her deepest and innermost parts of themselves, and the other spouse receives and handles it with delicate care, reflecting back the same level of respect. Do this enough times and the bonds of intimacy will really begin to grow.

Great intimacy (and sex) requires both parties to be vulnerable, where you’re both naked (physical vulnerability) and have an open, loving heart (emotionally naked).

Tuning In to Each Other

Intimacy also requires couples to tune in to each other. Laura Brotherson, a licensed marriage therapist and sex therapist, explains it this way: “It’s a skill to be able to sense each other’s inner state and respond accordingly….Couples spend a lot of time being mis-attuned to each other. Being tuned in to each other is a reward that comes only after a lot of time and effort has been expended. Couple attunement is ‘in-to-me-see’ intimacy on a whole new level.” [1]

Couple attunement is “in-to-me-see” intimacy

Connection and attunement (tuning in to each other) comes from the way we talk, listen, pay attention, touch, and treat each other. Eye contact, holding hands, hugging, and especially sex that’s bonding release the oxytocin neurotransmitters in our brains that build strong bonds in marriage. Showing empathy and sincerity in the relationship help us tune to each other.

Building Intimacy with Conversation Starters

Do you want to be vulnerable, trusting, and tuned in to each other but struggle figuring out the first step? Try some conversation starters, for starters (which is included for free in the Ultimate Intimacy app)!

Michael and Maria wrote us the following sweet message:

Maria and I are always looking for ways to grow and deepen intimacy in our marriage. We are both verbally inclined so the Ultimate Intimacy app opens the doorway for us and gives us a guided pathway to deeper union starting with words and progressing to physical intimacy all done with deep love and respect. We had tried making up similar “games” but this app is all encompassing. We love to use it on date nights and when we travel alone as a couple.

What ways do you and your spouse build intimacy? Feel free to share in the comments below.