Couples Exercises & Intimacy Building


Six Relationship Essentials

Every relationship needs a solid foundation if it's to survive all life can throw at it. Below are six essentials that spell success.

1. Love yourself

Unless you love yourself, it's hard for you to believe that anyone else will. Self-esteem is important for a healthy relationship. When you truly like yourself, in spite of any failings and weaknesses you may have, you'll feel confident. And when you feel confident and secure within yourself, you can enjoy being with your partner for the joy they bring to your life, not because you feel you need them to survive. If you've had bad experiences in the past, it's worth working through these issues with a trusted friend or therapist. It can be tempting to lean on your partner and rely on them for reassurance, but the stronger you are as an individual, the stronger and more equal your relationship will be.

2. Like your partner

Healthy relationships happen between two people who really like each other. It may be more romantic to talk about love, but it's important to remember that love is an emotion that comes and goes. If you genuinely like each other, enjoy being together, agree with how each other thinks and behaves, and share the same dreams in life, then loving feelings will never be too far away. It's important to tell your partner you like them, too. Warm words of encouragement and support build trust and respect. Add compliments too!

3. Make quality time

The importance of things can be measured by the amount of time we're willing to give them. When a couple first gets together, they instinctively prioritise their relationship. But as time goes by and life gets busier with work and children, time together often slips down the list of priorities. If you don't spend regular quality time together, chances are you'll drift apart. Making such time for each other may mean sacrificing other activities, but remember it's an investment in your future happiness.

4. Communicate

Good communication is essential for a healthy relationship. It's the only way you can tell your partner who you are, what you want and why you behave the way you do. Talking is the way we let each other into our private worlds. Be mindful of saying openly and honestly exactly what you think and feel. It also means listening to your partner without judgment.

5. Argue well

It's important to accept that arguments are a normal part of a relationship. We're all unique and so we're bound to have our differences. Couples who argue well don't have to worry about not always agreeing. A good argument is an opportunity to share your feelings and strengthen your bond by reaching a decision you're both happy with.

6. Touch every day

Touching is a vital human need. Studies have shown that without touching, many animals - including humans - will die in childhood. Being caressed also lowers blood pressure and releases natural opiates in the brain, as well as the chemical oxytocin, which is essential for human pair-bonding. Touch has the power to comfort and support, to protect and encourage, to relax and, of course, to arouse. Every couple knows their sex life may have dry periods, but our need for physical affection never changes.



Increase the Intimacy in your Relationship

Try this simple exercise, which is designed to increase closeness.

The asker:

You and your partner should take it in turns, on alternate days, to be the asker. When it's your turn, think of something you'd like from your partner during that day. The request should be specific, realistic and achievable. Avoid vague requests like "Be affectionate" or "Be nice to me." Choose instead things like "Kiss me goodbye" or "Take the dog out for me."When you ask, you need to make it clear it's that day's intimacy request. Remember: The aim of the exercise is to build intimacy, so keep your requests small and specific. Asking for things you know your partner won't want to do is likely to make you feel further apart, not closer together.

The giver:

As the person being asked, you have the right to say no to any intimacy request. In this case, the asker can't have another request that day and has to wait until it's their turn again. Because both partners are able to say no, it's unlikely that a reasonable request will be turned down as the giver knows they may be jeopardizing their request the next day.

Possible requests:

If you keep the exercise going, you'll find that in a few weeks it becomes easier to ask for what you want, and receiving requests feels more natural. If it's working well, you might decide to drop the formality of alternate days and build intimacy requests into your relationship routine.

Further help: If completing this exercise leaves you feeling uncomfortable or you have concerns about your relationship, try talking it through with your partner or a trusted friend. Alternatively, you might want to consider seeing a therapist.


Relationship Vision Exercise

This exercise is designed to help couples see the potential for their relationships as well as the personal differences and values of each spouse.

Please do this exercise alone. Write down a series of short sentences that describe your vision of a deeply satisfying relationship. It is important to include qualities you have in your relationship as well as qualities you wish you had. For example, "We have fun together", "We are affectionate with each other", "We enjoy our sex life", "We talk through our problems and differences peacefully" and "We are loving parents". Write the sentences in the present tense, as if it were already happening. Make all of them positive statements.

Next, rank each sentence on your list from 1 - 5 according to importance (1 being very important and 5 being not so important). Then, circle the 2 most important and put a * next to the ones you believe would be most difficult for the two of you to achieve.

Later, you will share your relationship visions and note what you have in common. For now, focus on your own vision each day during a quiet time. Begin to imagine yourself in your dream marriage. Holding this image, picture the details - the sounds, colors, forms, thoughts, and the way you feel. Think about living in the marriage of your dreams. Spend time each day this week focusing on your vision. This will help to turn your energy and efforts toward a goal. It will help to direct each decision and shape each action.

Our Relationship Vision

It is time to share yourindividual relationship visions and co-create a shared vision. Read your visions to one another. Note what you have in common, even if it is not stated exactly the same way. Each of you should have two sentences that are most important to you. List those at the top of your shared vision. Put the relatively less important items at the end of the list. Put a * by the items that you both agree will be most difficult to achieve. If there are areas that bring up conflict and you cannot reach a compromise statement that satisfies both of you, leave the item off your combined list. Use this as a guide to your future. Take the time to make it attractive, neat, legible and inspiring. Keep the list in a place that you can see easily each day. Once a week, read the list aloud to each other.


This exercise is from Harville Hendrix - Getting The Love You Want

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