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How to Build Emotional Intimacy in Marriage

For women, emotional intimacy in marriage is crucial to a deep, thriving relationship. And the research proves it! For our book, The Five Love Needs of Men and Women, we surveyed 700 couples to find what their top Love Needs were. Women ranked emotional intimacy as their #2 Love Need.

So, as a husband, what can you do to build emotional intimacy with your wife? Whether it’s non-existent in your relationship or you just want to strengthen that piece of your marriage—there are some specific things you can do to build emotional intimacy.

Listen to Her

One sure way of connecting is to offer a listening ear. The emphasis here is on listening, not fixing.

Here are some real, practical ways you can listen:

  • Give her your undivided attention when she talks to you. Turn off the television. Look her in the eyes. Put down your phone while you two are talking.
  • Sit down together at the end of each day and talk about all that went on. Refrain from solving problems, and just listen.
  • Get ready for bed together, and go to bed at the same time. You have an opportunity to end the day together listening to each other, holding each other.

Build Emotional Intimacy in Marriage: Show Her an Understanding Heart

Are you judgmental with your wife? You probably quickly answered no to this question. But think about it. Do you, either by your words or your attitude, sometimes make her feel ashamed or silly about the way she feels? Do you tell her she worries too much? When a woman sees her husband willing to open up and share with her—and beyond this, to show understanding and the desire to help lift her burdens—she will in turn honor him and his needs.

God wired women with the desire to experience mutual emotional nurturing. The moment you realize how strong this need is for your wife—and you’re willing to go the extra mile in achieving it—your marriage can be transformed!

Build Emotional Intimacy in Marriage: Give Her Attention and Affection

The Bible encourages husbands to be attentive to their wives. “In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat her with understanding as you live together” (1 Pet. 3:7).

A loving husband cares for and nurtures the real woman inside his wife. Be specific. Point out positive changes she has made in her life. Stop and take a good look at what she’s doing in her world. But do more than notice; say it out loud.

Your wife also needs your closeness, your nonsexual touch that communicates genuine caring and reminds her that she is loved for more than just her body. Attention to the smallest details shows your wife you are thinking of her and that she’s the most important person in your world.

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Build Emotional Intimacy in Marriage: Build Rapport with Her

When men talk to each other, they report. They talk about scores, highlights, events of the weekend—the list is endless. In their “report talk” men condense their stories and edit out the details to get to the point quickly.

Women, however, are wired for “rapport talk.” Details are important to women. We don’t want the abridged version; we want the whole nine yards. So if you want to connect emotionally with your wife, you must build rapport with her. Your wife wants to know what you are thinking. She wants to process things with you.

Build Emotional Intimacy in Marriage: Resolve Conflict

In Ephesians 4:31-32, Paul tells us to “get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of malicious behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”

You cannot connect emotionally if you are living with, or stirring up, resentment, bitterness, or anger. These emotions are toxic to a relationship. In the spiritual realm, the enemy uses these emotions as doorways to usher in every kind of disorder in a marriage.

If you have conflict in your marriage, work through it. Talk to God about it. Then talk to your wife. Forgive if you need to. Confess if you need to. Let go of your resentments.

Build Emotional Intimacy in Marriage: Safeguard Your Relationships

To put it bluntly, it is easy for a man to begin capturing another woman’s heart without even realizing it. You think you’re just having an enjoyable conversation with a coworker, but she may see it as the only attention she’s had all week. Before you know it, your conversations move from friendly chatter to intimate subjects.

We’re not suggesting you can’t have friendships with other women. We’re only warning you that it’s easier than you think to capture the heart of another woman outside of your marriage.

If you are accessing the emotions of a woman other than your wife, you are entering a major danger zone. It is as intimate for her as preparing for sex. It is that serious. No matter how appealing the attention of another woman is to your manhood, an innocent friendship can quickly take you by surprise and lead you down a path that you’ll soon regret.

The Rewards of Emotional Intimacy

We encourage you to build walls of protection around your wife by committing yourself to meet her need for emotional intimacy and communication. If you do, she will blossom and move closer to you, both emotionally and physically. This truly is the key to a woman’s heart.