The 6 Pillars of Intimacy

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The introductory paragraph is the part of an essay that causes the most trouble for students. Yet it is also the most important.

Physical intimacy isn’t just sex; it includes holding hands, cuddling and kissing. Spiritual intimacy involves shared religious beliefs and practices. Recreational intimacy includes things like hobbies and sports. And sexual intimacy is romance, foreplay and sexual intercourse.

1. Emotional Intimacy

Emotional intimacy is the foundation of every thriving relationship. It is the ability to share your deepest thoughts and feelings, fears, hopes, dreams, and insecurities with a trusted partner without fear of judgment or rejection.

This form of intimacy can be present in all types of relationships, not just romantic or sexual ones. It can be fostered through a variety of ways, including regular communication, expressing gratitude, and spending quality time together.

When you can connect with your partner on an emotional level, you feel like they know the real you and can support you when you need it most. This is a powerful feeling that can transform marriages. However, it is easy for this intimacy to fall through the cracks as you get caught up in your daily routine and lose sight of what’s important. It can help to seek out professional support for emotional intimacy in the form of couples or individual therapy.

2. Physical Intimacy

Physical intimacy is a pillar of intimacy that encompasses touch and closeness. This includes everything from eye contact and holding hands to cuddling and sex. Physical intimacy also applies to people outside of romantic relationships, such as friends or family members. Whether you’re hugging your best friend or snuggling on the couch during a movie, physical intimacy is important for any relationship.

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For couples, sexual intimacy is essential in forming a strong bond. It increases feelings of trust and love, while also decreasing cortisol levels and lowering stress. Furthermore, sex releases the body’s natural love hormone oxytocin, which can even help boost your immune system against common illnesses.

Oftentimes, when you hear the word intimacy, you think of sex and romance. However, intimacy is about much more than that. It’s important to understand all the pillars of intimacy so you can work on strengthening each one.

3. Financial Intimacy

Financial intimacy is a level of comfort, trust, and transparency that develops between partners regarding money matters. When couples are comfortable discussing their financial beliefs, fears, and goals, they can work together to reach them. This can help reduce financial stress, strengthen their marriage or relationship, and create a secure future for themselves.

Often, when couples talk about finances, they focus on how they want to spend their money. But this isn’t always helpful. It’s more important to discuss your personal values around money and understand that you might have different ones than your partner.

Couples can foster financial intimacy by creating a budget, setting desired financial goals, seeking professional advice, and regularly reviewing progress. They can also start by simply talking about their wants and needs to see where they do and don’t intersect. For example, one couple might want to save for a house while the other wants to travel more frequently.

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4. Spiritual Intimacy

Spiritual intimacy can create a sense of transcendent closeness that goes beyond physical and emotional intimacy. It involves sharing spiritual beliefs and practices with your spouse, such as praying together or reading religious texts. It can also include discussing how your beliefs and experiences have shaped your worldview and values.

Prior research has linked greater discussion of spiritual issues in a marriage to increased marital satisfaction and well-being. In addition, spiritual disclosure has been correlated with greater communication and collaborative methods of conflict resolution (Brelsford & Mahoney, 2008).

Couples may experience difficulty when it comes to developing this type of intimacy, especially if they have differing views on religion. However, they can try to connect spiritually by going for a walk, cooking dinner together or simply sitting together somewhere scenic and beautiful. Having stimulating discussions that challenge each other intellectually is also important to nourishing this type of intimacy.

5. Recreational Intimacy

Having fun together and enjoying activities without having to talk about work, children, or subjects that have the potential to cause conflict helps couples feel close. Recreational intimacy can include things like watching a movie together, playing basketball, or taking a road trip.

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This form of intimacy tends to be at its highest at the beginning of a relationship when couples are getting to know each other and learning what they think about various topics. However, couples can fall out of this intimacy over time as they assume they know what their spouse thinks about everything and stop exploring their intellectual worlds together.

In addition to recreational intimacy, there are several other types of intimacy that can help a couple grow closer. These include communication intimacy, creative intimacy, conflict intimacy, and spiritual intimacy. To learn more about how you and your spouse can cultivate each of these areas of intimacy, check out our ebook Creating a Vision for Your Marriage.

6. Sexual Intimacy

When people hear the word intimacy, they often think of sex and physical closeness. While this is an important part of intimacy, it’s not the only one. There are other forms of intimacy including emotional, intellectual, experiential, and spiritual.

For example, you might experience emotional intimacy through sharing heart-to-heart conversations with your partner or by expressing emotions openly. You might also develop intellectual intimacy through discussing ideas and perspectives or by pursuing hobbies together. Sharing experiences can also create a sense of intimate connection, such as enjoying a delicious meal or marveling at a beautiful view.

It’s important to remember that you can have a healthy sense of intimacy even if you and your partner are not interested in or cannot have sex. However, if sexual intimacy is a challenge for your relationship, it may be helpful to seek the support of a psychotherapist or sex therapist.

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