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How important is intimacy in a marriage?

Intimacy is extremely important in a marriage. It encompasses not just physical intimacy through sex, but also emotional intimacy through communication, vulnerability and connection. Research has shown that marriages with high levels of intimacy have higher relationship satisfaction and lower chances of divorce. Intimacy promotes bonding, passion and commitment between spouses. It is the glue that holds a marriage together.

What is intimacy in marriage?

Intimacy in marriage refers to the closeness, attachment and connection between spouses, both emotionally and physically. It involves:

  • Physical intimacy through affectionate touch, hugs, kissing and sex.
  • Emotional intimacy through communication, sharing feelings, being vulnerable and trusting each other.
  • Intellectual intimacy through stimulating conversations, sharing ideas and dreams.
  • Experiential intimacy through shared activities, interests and quality time together.
  • Spiritual intimacy through shared values, beliefs and sense of meaning.

True intimacy requires openness, reciprocity and vulnerability between spouses. It builds over time through shared experiences.

Why is intimacy important in marriage?

Intimacy is important in marriage for several reasons:

Promotes bonding and attachment

Intimacy helps spouses feel emotionally and physically connected to each other. This bonding through intimacy is essential for the health of a marriage.

Fosters passion

Physical and emotional intimacy keeps passion alive in a marriage. Without intimacy, marriages can become cold and lifeless.

Strengthens commitment

The mutual vulnerability and trust required for intimacy promotes stronger commitment between spouses.

Improves communication

Intimate communication involves honesty, openness and expression of needs and feelings. This builds understanding between spouses.

Increases happiness

Research shows intimate marriages lead to greater happiness and life satisfaction for spouses.

Reduces conflict

Intimacy helps spouses be more caring, responsive and positive with each other. This reduces negative conflict patterns.

Boosts romance

Romance thrives when intimacy needs are fulfilled through affection, focused attention and loving gestures.

Promotes sensuality

Physical intimacy and sensual exploration of each other’s bodies deepens the intimate bond between spouses.

Improves trust

The vulnerability of intimacy builds trust between spouses as they prove themselves reliable and caring over time.

Strengthens commitment

The mutual vulnerability and trust required for intimacy promotes stronger commitment between spouses.

What happens when intimacy is missing in a marriage?

Lack of intimacy can severely damage a marriage in the following ways:

  • Spouses grow apart emotionally and physically
  • Passion and romance dies down
  • Poor communication due to lack of openness
  • More conflict and fights
  • Infidelity increases as emotional or sexual needs are unmet
  • Spouses become unhappy and dissatisfied
  • Higher risk of separation or divorce

Research indicates that along with communication issues and financial problems, lack of intimacy is among the top reasons for divorce.

How to build intimacy in marriage

Intimacy must be nurtured in a marriage. Here are some tips:

Make your spouse a priority

Set aside quality time for just the two of you amidst the demands of work, children and life. Prioritize intimacy.

Communicate openly and listen actively

Share your innermost thoughts, feelings, hopes and fears. Avoid judgment and offer empathy when your spouse opens up.

Stay physically affectionate

Kiss, hug, cuddle, hold hands, massage and be generously loving in physical displays of affection.

Be playful and adventurous

Keep your intimacy exciting by being spontaneous, trying new things and acting flirtatious.

Discuss your sexual needs

Talk about your sexual desires and preferences. Don’t let sex become routine and boring.

Allow yourself to be vulnerable

Being vulnerable builds trust and deepens emotional intimacy between spouses.

Do shared activities

Spend time doing things you both enjoy like traveling, hiking, cooking etc. Shared interests and experiences build intimacy.

Work as a team

Approach issues, problems and decisions with a “we’re in this together” attitude. This unites you.

Manage stress well

Don’t let chronic stress, resentment or anger accumulate. Seek help before it damages intimacy.

Give your full attention

Put down your phone, turn off the TV and make eye contact when talking to your spouse.

Value each other

Express appreciation for your partner’s qualities. Feeling valued builds intimacy.

Address intimacy blocks

Issues like addiction, trauma, depression etc can affect intimacy. Seek help if needed.

Keep dating

Make an effort to consistently date your spouse, recreate special moments and have romantic getaways. This fuels intimacy.

How lack of sex affects intimacy

While intimacy is much more than sex, a lack of sex can damage intimacy between spouses in the following ways:

  • Partners feel emotionally and physically disconnected
  • Resentment and frustration builds up
  • Spouses become distant, irritable and cold with each other
  • Feelings of hurt, rejection and lowered self-esteem
  • Suspicions around attraction, infidelity, boredom arise
  • Communication breaks down
  • Marital conflicts increase
  • Marriage feels unhappy and lifeless
  • Higher chance of separation or divorce

Sex fosters physical and emotional closeness between spouses. When sex begins reducing, it is usually a symptom of greater issues around loss of intimacy in the marriage.

How to get help when intimacy problems arise

If lack of intimacy becomes a chronic issue in your marriage, it is important to seek help through:

  • Marriage counseling to identify and address the root issues
  • Sex therapy if sexual intimacy is a key problem area
  • Individual counseling if personal issues like depression are affecting intimacy
  • Medical help to check for health conditions impacting intimacy
  • Books, online courses and workshops focused on intimacy building skills
  • Support groups to connect with other couples facing similar challenges
  • Talking openly to your spouse about your desire to improve intimacy
  • Making small but consistent efforts to increase intimacy through better communication, dates, affection etc

With mutual love, understanding and willingness to work on it, marriage intimacy issues can often be resolved, bringing spouses closer again.


Intimacy is the bedrock of a strong, satisfying marriage. The emotional and physical closeness of intimacy promotes bonding, passion, sensuality and commitment between spouses. It enables understanding, trust and self-expression. Lack of intimacy leads to loneliness, unhappiness, infidelity and higher divorce rates. Making intimacy a priority, staying affectionate and addressing problems early on are key to protecting intimacy in a marriage. Intimacy takes work but the rewards of a deeper connection are well worth the effort for spouses.