Exercises for couples to increase physical closeness
There are understandable reasons why you may not want to have sex with your partner.
Many things will reduce your sex drive for sexual intimacy. For example, conflict in your relationship, exhaustion, stress, and lack of physical attraction for your partner.
Even though you may be upset, stressed, or mad at your partner — having sex with them will likely help you become more centered, energized, and hopeful for the future.
Giving sexual pleasure to your partner and permitting them to do the same with you may actually help solve some other conflicts in your relationship. Sex with your partner, even when you are not excited to do so, will certainly prevent you from creating an additional problem — an unhealthy, sexless relationship lacking sexual intimacy. And the dangers of sexless marriage are many!
Sex is like the opposite poles of a magnet. Even when the polls are not touching, they are still looking to pull together. The same is true in a healthy relationship. Your sexual energies should seek to pull together, even when you are apart. Sexual energy must keep the two of you interested in one another. Without sexual passion, your marriage or committed relationship will become stale, cold, and lifeless — and perhaps even unwanted! In a healthy marriage, ‘sex’ should permeate all aspects of your relationship!
What is intimacy?
Intimacy means you know your partner in a deeper way than anybody else in the world does. Whether knowing your partner’s body, emotions, intellect, or spirituality, each type of ‘knowledge’ is intimacy. Couples that have achieved intimacy have deep conversations, are committed and willing to sacrifice for one another and treat each other with deep respect, care, and unconditional love.
These intimacy activities for couples will deepen your connection
Intimacy in marriage or a committed relationship begins with the mind. How you think about your partner and they about you will determine whether your sex is good or otherwise. Long-term relationships create the perfect opportunity to extract maximum sexual satisfaction.
Knowing what ‘turns you on’ and what ‘turns your partner on’ is essential information for a satisfying and loving sexual relationship.
You need to know how to approach your partner, how to share your sexual needs, feelings, and sensitivities, and how to overcome sexual difficulties should they arise.
The following couples therapy exercises will give you the knowledge, skills, and expectations that will contribute to a healthy, satisfying, and mutually enjoyable sexual relationship.
Men are more sexually driven than women
Men often initiate the first steps of the romantic dance. Research has shown that, overall, men are more sexually driven than women and more easily aroused.*
Why couples don’t have sex
Many women do not realize how rejected a man feels when he indicates he’s in the mood for sex and she tells him she is not in the mood. As well, many men do not understand how a woman needs romance and good communication to be in the mood for sex. When men feel rejected, and women don’t feel romanced, sex is avoided.**
Six intimacy activities for couples
It is assumed your partner is available to participate.
1. Write a love story
Committed and married couples can be divided into two categories. The first category is those couples who are most of the time getting along well but need to tweak their sexual relationship, and the second category is couples who have built up over time disappointment and resentment toward their partner. It is possible that an individual in an intimate relationship can find themselves in a category that is different from their partner. Decide which category you belong to and respond as recommended below.
Activity to do
1. Seek to tweak your sexual relationship
Write two or three paragraphs about what you appreciate about your partner and what you enjoy doing with them.
For example, write about and give examples of interactions that really happened:
-I appreciate that you were always positive, even when I feel down.
-I enjoy having coffee with you in the morning.
-I like the way you always ask me how my day was.
-I’d like your sense of humor. No matter what happens, you can find something funny about it.
-I enjoy your sense of family and how you prioritize this as a core value.
Give your partner your “love story,” listing what you appreciate about them.
2. Disappointment and resentment interfering with sex
Write the specific behavior your partner has done or continues to do that bothers you. Provide accurate detail. Following each item, restate it as a positive request.***
-You criticize how I spend money. Turn that around and request only positive comments about financial purchases. For example, if something needs to be said regarding spending money, request one time a week to speak and briefly share your feelings.
-I don’t like how you disrespect my efforts to keep the house tidy. You leave things all over, expecting me to clean up after you. Turns that around, I really appreciate it when you put your things away, such as if you have a drink in the living room, put the dirty cup in the sink, or even better, wash it.
-When I try to sleep, you sometimes turn on the TV, which keeps me awake. Turn that around and request that in the future, when I am trying to sleep, I would like you to watch TV in another room.
-I don’t like it when you complain about my mother. Turn that around and request that your partner either speak respectfully about your mother or say nothing at all.
-I don’t like that you call me at work knowing that I may be busy and unavailable. I’d appreciate it in the future if you could text before calling to see if I am available. Unless I say yes, and unless it is an emergency, you wait, and I will call you when I can.
Take all of the items you don’t like that your partner does or has done and present an updated list that only includes the ‘positive requests.’ Follow that up with a few paragraphs about how much you will love and enjoy their company and doing things with them if they fulfill your requests.
This is your ‘love letter’ expressing your desire to have a deep, meaningful, and valued relationship with your partner. They will understand that this includes passionate sex. And if you think they may not understand, tell them explicitly that this includes a desire for a great sexual relationship.
2. Spend time together — it is good for your sex life
You cannot have great sex if you do not feel close to one another. Like money in a bank, if you don’t first make deposits, you cannot later make withdrawals. The same is true with your relationship. If you don’t spend positive time with your partner, you won’t feel close, and you cannot expect to have great sex. Literally, you reap what you sow.
- Go on walks together
- Read a book together
- Play board games
- Go on a date
- Together, renovate one of the rooms in your home
Spending time together is one of the most important intimacy activities for couples, creating an emotional connection that naturally turns sexual.
Activity to do
Make a list of what you can and would like to do with your partner. Ask them also to make a list. Then, combine the list into one long list you can select from as you decide what to do together. You can put each suggestion on a Post-it note and place it inside a bag if you like. Take turns randomly pulling out an idea that can serve as the next activity.
3. Men and Women Have Different Pleasures
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and sex researcher Deborah Blum writes of her own experience as a mother, summarized for brevity:
In a family where traditional gender norms were consciously set aside, I was raised to view everyone as inherently equal. However, the arrival of parenthood, particularly to two boys, brought unexpected revelations. The older son’s fascination with only the fiercest of dinosaurs, eschewing herbivores as unworthy, sparked a realization that perhaps gender differences were not solely a cultural construct but something more innate. This observation prompted a deeper inquiry into whether behaviors like aggression are influenced more by genetics. Upon completing her research, she concludes, “And I am not insulted by the idea that men are more sexually driven than women…”*
Men and women are very different in how they approach emotional intimacy and sex. Many women seek sexual romance, whereas many men seek sexual adventure. In addition to these generalizations, there are many individual preferences. And as long as they are consensual, all paths are healthy and good.
Wisdom for men
If you are a man, sex with your wife begins hours before you actually touch one another. You need to court your wife. She needs to feel she is the woman you choose to be, your sexual and life partner. You generally do this by being kind, sensitive, and cooperative. In particular, give her the thing that excites her sexually. Maybe it is a gift, a word about how attractive she is, or a prelude to sex spent time in a pleasing environment, like a classy restaurant. The brain is a woman’s largest sexual organ!
Wisdom for women
When a man expresses a desire to be with you, know he is already ‘turned on.’ When you welcome his advances, it represents to him that he is valued and loved. On the other hand, when a man’s sexual advances are rebuffed, he will feel rejected, sad, and mad, feeling he is not wanted and unloved. A man is biologically programmed to have ongoing sexual releases. As a woman, you need to know this and act on this awareness if your man is to be healthy and content.
Activity to do
Write down your thoughts regarding your gender-based sexual patterns and those of your partner. Share your list with one another. Take turns asking each other questions to understand fully the information that has been shared. Of the six intimacy activities for couples, this one is fundamental. You need to get it right if you are to find a sexual dance that is smooth, enjoyable, and flows.
4. Get physical — sex requires physical intimacy
Being sexual requires that you have physical contact with each other. There is no other way or substitution.
Unlike what some people may suggest, you do not need to have eye contact to have great sex. You do not need to have the perfect body to have great sex, and you do not need to know the latest and greatest sexual techniques. What you do need is the ability to feel good about yourself and let your body show you the way to sexual arousal, euphoria, and satisfaction.
There are many good books and articles written about how to excite your partner so they will respond to your romantic and sexual advances. If you need to learn more about how to get your partner aroused so they will desire your sexual affection, read them.
Experiential intimacy that is agreeable to your partner can lead to a deeper intimacy enjoyed by both of you. Engaging in new activities that enhance intimacy and lead to a more fulfilling romance and sex is healthy and proper and will strengthen your overall relationship.
These six intimacy activities for couples assume there are no medical or psychological reasons that limit your capacity for sex. Unfortunately, some people have physical problems or emotional problems rooted in past trauma. If this is true for you or your partner, you are encouraged to get proper medical or professional relationship help from a sex therapist, family therapist, or psychotherapist.
As you research how to overcome any sexual problems that you may have, bear in mind that physical intimacy is often the result of a lack of emotional intimacy. If that is the case, you are encouraged to work overall on the health of your marriage or committed relationship with the help of a good couple therapist.
Without sex, the natural attraction between you and your partner will die! And with the death of attraction, so too goes the desire to connect emotionally with one another.
If you or your partner are deliberately withholding sex, ask yourself or your partner, would you withhold food needed food? Hopefully, the answer is “no.”
A sexless marriage or committed relationship does not solve problems; it only adds to them.
Yes, you need to be true to your feelings, and if you don’t feel close to your partner and you don’t feel that you can be intimate with them — don’t have sex.
However, don’t settle for a sexless marriage. Solve your outstanding relationship problems that are creating obstacles to your natural desire to be sexually intimate with your partner. If you can’t do it alone, seek help from a qualified relationship specialist.
Activity to do
If you have sexual problems, write them down, followed by a proposed solution. Share this with your partner.
Write down what living in a sexless relationship is like for you. Describe the negative feelings you live with as a result of not having enough sex. Exchange your thoughts and feelings with one another. Take turns asking each other questions to understand fully the information that has been shared.
5. Advanced skills for better sex
Like anything in life, we can continuously improve and make it better. This is certainly true regarding our intimacies with our partner.
Your turn sex
Take turns with your partner, giving each other 10 or 15 minutes of pleasure. When you are the provider, let your partner guide your hand or explain what they want at any given time. Open communication is essential. Not only does this build a feeling of gratitude, acceptance, and safety toward one another, but it also becomes an opportunity to learn about each other, which will be useful information for future love-making.
Sex is an experience. Other than it being sexual, the memories that remain are no different than the memories of other important events like weddings, travels, or success at work. The bottom line is that the better the sex between you and your partner, the easier it is for the two of you to have a wonderful relationship and life together. For this reason, you should always seek tips and ideas on improving your love life.
Generally speaking, men can find satisfaction during sex. However, for a woman, it is not a given. It takes skill and patience for a man to arouse her and assist her to come to her completion. When that happens, both partners feel validated. The man feels he is a skilled lover, and the woman feels close to her partner, who took the time and care needed for her to achieve sexual fulfillment. Mostly, sex is memorable for both partners when the woman is satisfied.
Wisdom for men
Great sex for a woman opens her to experience the love her partner has for her. Her partner’s care and sensitivity during sex, expressed with his hands, fingers, and other organs, leave no doubt in her mind that he loves and values her. Her passion to love and be loved can only be fully experienced during romance and sex. Great sex for women provides the feeling that her male partner is repeatedly proposing for her ‘hand in marriage.’ For a woman, emotional intimacy leads to sexual intimacy.
Wisdom for women
Great sex for a man allows him to release the sexual tension that is ever present and psychologically reassures him that his female partner needs him. It rekindles his passion and commitment to his marriage and family. Great sex for a man is when his female partner desires, needs, and admires his physical and sexual prowess. For a man, sexual intimacy leads to emotional intimacy.
Activity to do
You are in a committed relationship, and consensual sex is healthy and respectful. When you share intimate details about yourself, if handled sensitively and respectfully, it will bring the two of you closer to each other. Be vulnerable and share your sexual passions and desires. Use graphic and detailed words to describe what you want.
Share with your partner your sexual desires (positions, actions, words, etc.) and inquire about theirs. If, for whatever reason, they don’t want to do something that you like, you will understand, and you are OK with that. Assure them that good sex is consensual sex — and you want no other kind.
It may not be easy to share your sexual desires with your partner. Still, it is essential because feeling physically close to each other and sexually satisfied is of critical importance to the overall health of your relationship. That is why you should communicate your wants and needs with your partner. When you both do this, you increase the likelihood that you will both be enthusiastic about love-making.
Sometimes, emotional intimacy leads to a stronger physical connection, and sometimes, it can be the other way around. Emotional intimacy is enhanced through a physical connection. Use all your resources to build a healthy, loving, and long-lasting relationship.
6. Prevent sexual boredom
These six intimacy activities for couples presented in this guide address only one part of making your sexual life abundant, alive, and desired. Another part of all of this is creating the right setting for great sex to occur. Repetition — same old, same old — breeds boredom. Novelty and experimentation build enthusiasm and anticipation.
Novelty keeps your love life fresh and alive. Spice up your romantic and sexual escapades by occasionally changing locations, times, and events prior to your romantic moments. Use your imagination and dream up new ways to enhance your romantic and sexual pleasure. When you do this, you will never experience sexual boredom. You and your partner will enthusiastically anticipate future activities that will bring you to new sexual highs.
If you require more detailed suggestions, there are many good books out there that you can purchase that will give you unlimited ideas on how to spice things up.
Physical contact between you and your partner is essential for a healthy marriage or committed relationship. Intimate relationships are not icing on the cake. They are the cake itself. Couples who want to stay together and stand the test of time and all the trials and tribulations that go along with that need to have some sexual contact with one another.
Be creative in how you organize and implement your sexual relationship. Over time, it will and should change, and you need to adapt to the reality of age and changing circumstances. Don’t believe in absolutes such as you must have “eye contact” or there is one “best way to kiss” to have a healthy sex life. As every person in the world is different from one another, every relationship is unique. Don’t accept that a lack of intimacy is your fate. Lack of intimacy is unnatural, and it is far easier to go with your instincts and sexual desires and build a strong connection with your partner.
Most people push themselves to exercise to keep their bodies strong and healthy, even when they don’t feel like doing so. They overcome their initial resistance and get moving. They exercise knowing that doing so will lead to a positive result — an investment in their future health. So, too, if need be, push yourself to be sexually active with your partner and they with you. The benefits of doing so will far outweigh whatever the excuses or inhibitions there may be. Being sexual is an investment in your relationship’s well-being and longevity.
If you have a sexless relationship already or a relationship that has become stale, use these six intimacy activities for couples to build and deepen your connection with your partner. Make sex part of your daily lives — keep your intimate connection with one another strong and deep.
* Sex On The Brain, The biological differences between men and women, by Deborah Blum, Penguin Books, 1997.
** Mars And Venus In The Bedroom, A guide to lasting romance and passion, John Gray, Ph.D., Harper Collins Publishers, 1995.
*** Rewriting Love Stories, Brief marital therapy, Patricia O’Hanlon Hudson and William Hudson O’Hanlon W.W. Norton and Company, 1991
For women: Sex is a Physical Need
For men: The Benefits of a Healthy Sex Life