In my previous blog I talked about the need for secure connection in the couple relationship. In this blog I have selected a few simple exercises that you and your partner can work on together to develop intimacy. I hope you find these to be straightforward and simple to do. They are based on sound research that you can read about in “The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work” by John Gottman and Nan Silver, (Harmony Books, New York, 2015).

Here are three tips to get you started:

Know your partner – Develop a love map

Sometimes we can think that we know our partner when in fact we don’t know as much as we think we do. So, what to do? Always keep a learning attitude. Be curious and don’t assume that you know all there is to know.

For example, do you know the answer to the following questions about your partner?

Going deep:

  • Who are the people who have been/are most influential in his/her life?
  • What are the significant events in his/her life?
  • What events are coming up that he/she is looking forward to/dreading?
  • What are her/his hopes and aspirations?

Keeping it simple:

  • What is his/her favourite meal?
  • How does he/she like to relax?
  • Who are his/her favourite people?

Responding to acts of kindness – giving and receiving bids

When your partner does something kind for you, for example, makes you a cup of tea, cooks dinner, mows the lawn, pays you a compliment, appreciates something you have done, how do you respond? Or more to the point, DO you respond?

Let your partner know that you appreciate them. Acknowledge acts of kindness with a nod, a thank you, a smile, a gentle touch.  Research suggests that 7 out of 10 positive responses will fill up a couples love tank and give them currency to weather the next negative interaction.

The art of listening – Listen, empathise, don’t give advice

How many times does your partner need to repeat what they say before you hear them? How many times do you find yourself wondering what your partner just said and having to either admit that you didn’t hear or fake a response?

Listening is an art.  Listening well and hearing what your partner says to you will help you to respond accurately and at the same time will work toward developing intimacy in your relationship. The art of listening well starts when we stop thinking while the other person is speaking. This doesn’t mean to turn off your brain. It does mean to stop thinking up a response, or about what has just been happening. Stop the thoughts and concentrate, look at your partner while they speak, take in not only what they are saying, but how they are saying it, what expression is on their face, how are they standing/sitting. Words, expression and actions usually go hand in hand. Pulling all this information together you will be able to make an accurate and thoughtful response that will let them know they are heard. Oh and don’t give unwanted advice.

“The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide” by Gottman and Silver, is available from:

Book Depository: for $17.85

Booktopia: for $23.75