What do we mean by “different kinds of intimacy”?
The word and even practice of “intimacy” is often mistaken for being purely sexual. Intimacy simply means “closeness” and is something we all crave. Here are several different ways you can practice intimacy with your partner, giving each other more love and comfort.
They (your wives) are your garment and you are a garment for them.” (Al-Baqarah 2:187)
1) Emotional Intimacy = sharing feelings and being vulnerable
Achieving emotional intimacy with your partner means that you are comfortable to reveal a full range of your inner emotions to him or her, from joy to sorrow. Some ways to strengthen your emotional intimacy are:
• Trust your partner by sharing your inner concerns and fears. And of course respect your spouse when they share these things with you.
• Be present with your spouse. Give them your full attention when they speak to you, and also be aware when their body language is speaking to you.
• Practice generosity. Every partner makes plenty of sacrifices, be sure to make yours. Do the chores you rather not, eat the meals you aren’t wild about, go on the trips that aren’t your first choice and behave graciously when you do.
• Be forgiving. Don’t assume negatively of your spouse’s actions and easily forgive their errors instead of holding missteps against them. Focus on positivity to bring each other closer together.
2) Intellectual Intimacy = sharing thoughts and ideas
Being intellectually intimate means that you can share your thoughts and ideas with your partner, even if you don’t agree on the same opinions. Some ways to practice intellectual intimacy are:
• Share your goals (individual or as a couple) and encourage each other in them.
• Tell each other about interesting articles or books you have read.
• Better still, read a book together and discuss it as you go along – no spoilers though!
• Plan a trip together, choosing activities you each would like to do.
• Be aware of each others fears or triggers and help each other navigate life through and around them.
• Think of “pillow talk” (after sexual intimacy) as a great time to practice emotional and intellectual intimacy.
And of His signs is that he created for you, of yourselves, spouses, that you might repose in them, and He has set between you love and mercy. Surely in that are signs for people who consider.” (Ar-Rum 30:21)
3) Experiential Intimacy = sharing experiences together
Just as it sounds like, experiential intimacy is all about the experiences you have together. Date night is essentially an example, but trying new things always encourages personal growth and bonds you as a couple. Consider:
• Trying a new hobby or sport together.
• Take a cooking or other course together.
• Doing recreational activities you both enjoy, such as hiking, going to the theater or museums.
• Doing the actual traveling part of that trip you discussed.
4) Physical Intimacy = much more than just sex
Truly the whole point of this article is that many people mistake intimacy for sex, and as you see there is so much more to intimacy than that. Physical intimacy is essentially touching without the expectation of copulation. Some ways to enjoy physical intimacy are:
• Exchange quick kisses throughout the day. Make this a regular practice.
• Likewise, give each other regular hugs and “pats” without any need to go further.
• Cuddle while reading, watching TV or while just chatting.
• Give each other massages without expectations of sex.
• Also, openly talk to each other about your feelings regarding being physical – why you do or don’t enjoy it.
5) Spiritual Intimacy = sharing aspects of your spiritual beliefs together
Here’s a great form of intimacy for Muslims! Spiritual intimacy is all about being in awe of Allah’s magnificence together. This isn’t so much the daily acts of worship, but sharing the emotions and revelations that come from your spirituality. Simple ways to practice spiritual intimacy would be:
• Being in nature together.
• Sharing your gratefulness with each other, such as daily gratitude journaling or text exchanges.
• Admiring the sunset or sunrise together.
• Of course take classes and/or read Islamic texts together, but be sure to discuss them earnestly and without judgement. Respect each other’s different points of view and experiences.
Ultimately, practicing intimacy in depth with your spouse will lead to more and better intimacy, insha Allah. Always remember to be like a comforting garment for each other.