Emotional Intimacy contributes significantly to the success of a relationship whether it is between spouses or family members. A weak emotional closeness can damage a potentially happy marriage and uproot the entire family. It is one of the reasons for failed marriages.  Many couples stay together without any joy in physical and emotional intimacy. This article helps you in reshaping your emotional intimacy and raises your happiness index. 

Understanding Emotional Intimacy

Emotional intimacy refers to the closeness in a relationship and feeling comfortably secure in sharing their likes, dislikes, advice and disagreements. 

A family is not only a cluster of people but a gathering of souls and emotions. A strong emotional bond is fixed with clear communication and trust. Only if you are emotionally close, will you be aware of your spouses’ and family’s fears, dreams, and hopes, and thus be helpful to them. 

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Why You Should Not Ignore Emotional Intimacy

Spouses need to be strongly intimate emotionally in order to celebrate physical intimacy. Without a strong emotional connection, love is deficient and the couple may likely not bear to stay together for the long term.  

“They are a clothing for you and you are a clothing for them.” [Surah Al Baqarah:187]

The Qur’an calls the companionship of the spouses as a garment for one another. Garments are meant to look attractive and cover the defects and personal matters from others. This is emotional intimacy at the best level.

Physical intimacy without emotional connectivity can hold a relationship together for just a short time, as long as the spouses appear appealing, rich, and beautiful. There must be a communication of emotions between the spouses. An emotionally intimate couple will grow together, discovering each other through emotions, and allowing each other the space to show their own shortcomings without the fear of being criticized or shamed.  

Emotional intimacy displays authenticity in love and relations, and the togetherness feels loved and safe. It is an essential component of marriage, as it enhances the spouse’s physical and psychological bond and the performance of their religious duties. 

Impact of a Lack of Emotional Connection in a Marriage 

A lack of emotional intimacy leads to disconnection and loneliness in a relationship, resulting in frustration and complaints about not being understood. Among the major causes of divorces and domestic violence, the foremost is emotional disconnectivity which generates impatience and ends up in a hurried aggressive response or a parting.

How To Be Emotionally Upright

The stronger the emotional bond, the more affectionate the relationship and marriage will be. 

You know that you want emotional stability between you and your spouse, but are not sure how to create it in your relationship. Let us identify some key examples of emotionally intimate couples and how to build emotional intimacy.

Standing Together in Crisis: The Case Study of Prophet Ayub and His Wife’s Emotional Attachment

Emotionally intimate couples offer their support to their spouses without any hesitation during a crisis. They are strongly present when their spouse needs them. 

The events of Prophet Ayub (peace be upon him) reflect upon the immense benefits of having emotional intimacy. After Prophet Ayub was deserted by his family, friends, and the town, it was only his wife who remained with him. She was compassionate and refused to desert him because, “During good times, my husband was kind towards me.” She washed him, helped him with his daily needs, and even took up a job in order to provide food for herself and her husband. She bore with patience for seventeen years until Allah cured her husband and granted back her youth.  (Qasas al Anbiya by Ibn Kathir: The Story of Ayub)

To create a secure atmosphere in your relationship, you must lead by example. Prophet Ayub (Peace be upon him) led by example by being good to his wife during his good days and his wife returned the favor with gratefulness during his bad days. 

Honest Communication

Beware of manipulation in conversations. Openness comes through honesty within the relationship. When you speak to each other, you should do so with a compassionate heart and an honest tongue. At times, there may be some harsh truths that need to be said, but they can be said in a way that does not crush the other person. The only way to grow closer and truly foster emotional intimacy is by being truthful with one another.

Once ‘Aishah (Allah be pleased with her) spoke something about Saffiya (Allah be pleased with her) and her size. The Prophet (ﷺ) showed an expression of dislike and corrected her immediately. 

You have said a word which would change the sea if it were mixed in it.” (Abu Dawood: 4875) 

He did not remain quiet, but commented because the situation called for immediate rectification, and he did not rebuke her harshly, but did it in a manner that made her more receptive to its acceptance. Gentle correction is part of honest conversations, and brutal criticism becomes a tool for damaging the relationship. 

Do not criticize your spouse in a bitter manner. Broken hearts are more painful than broken bones, since the latter can be plastered and mended. No x-ray can show the emotional rift in the heart, and no cardiogram can give a report of the spiritual pain of a broken heart. It is felt within. So be careful before you hurl insults at your spouse out of anger. You should initiate an honest and compassionate discussion with your partner instead of egotistically waiting for the spouse to proceed.

The Tender Touch: The Usool of Physical Intimacy

Physical closeness in a relationship has its own charm in intimacy. Thus, it is important to note that a tender touch transmits an expressive emotion. A simple touch can announce love loudly and communicate plenty of emotions. Physical intimacy is not to merely obtain sexual fulfillment, but to express love through permissible sexual relations. Allah permitted physical intimacy even during the nights of Ramadan.

“It has been made permissible for you the night preceding fasting to go to your wives.” [Surah Al Baqarah: 187]

The importance of a physical touch is understood from the fact that Islamic law allows intimate touching and caressing during the menses, everything is permitted except for sexual intercourse. The Mother of the Believers,  Maymunah reported, 

The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) would be intimate with his wives above the izar (waist wrapper) when they were menstruating.” (Sahih Muslim: 294) 

Communication is not just the oral exchange of words, but can also be done intimately by couples through the exchange of body language to let their partner know how they feel about them. 

To help turn an intimate physical touch into an affectionate display, one should begin with hygiene, and brushing the teeth and having a good breath is an important factor for enhancing the physical touch. Shuraih bin Hani (May Allah be pleased with him) reported, 

“I asked ‘Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her), ‘What was the first thing that the Prophet (ﷺ) did when he entered his house?’ She replied, ‘He would use the miswak (tooth-stick).’” (Sahih Muslim: 210) 

There are plenty of emotional expressions that can be packed within a meaningful touch. Do not let those opportunities to get closer go to waste.

A Generous Pardon 

Those spouses who are generous towards one another the longest are the ones who are usually the deepest in love and affection. 

Marriage is a lifelong commitment, and the spouses are bound to make mistakes. As humans, we are imperfect. However, for a couple’s intimacy to flourish, forgiveness must always exist and be enacted. If they never forgave one another, then it will only create distance and resentment between them. No blame game existed between Adam and Hawa when Iblis deceived them from eating from the tree. Instead, Adam supplicated,

“Our Lord, we have wronged ourselves, and if You do not forgive us and have mercy upon us, we will surely be among the losers.” [Surah Al Araf: 23]

Forgiveness raises the satisfaction of the relationship to higher levels. Forgive your spouse for something that you have been holding a grudge against them for and restart new efforts by sincerely doing it for Allah. Allah Himself assures us by saying,

“Kind words and forgiveness are better than charity followed by injury.” [Surah Al Baqarah: 263]

When you pardon, you are performing an act of humbleness. Abu Sa’id al-Khudri reported that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, 

“Whoever humbles himself by a degree for Allah, Allah will raise him by a degree. Whoever is arrogant to Allah by a degree, Allah will lower him by a degree until he is made the lowest of the low.” (Ibn Majah: 4176, Graded Hasan by Ibn Hajar)

Throw resentment away from your shoulders, and open yourself up to your partner like you have not done before. Let your spouse know that you have forgiven them, and they will be more likely to forgive you, and have the feeling that weighed both of you down lifted off your shoulders. 

Do not be too demanding of your rights, but be lenient. Ibn Abbas (Allah be pleased with him), said, “I do not like to invoke all of my rights over my wife due to the saying of Allah, ‘And for men is a degree over them.’ [Surah Al-Baqarah: 228]”

Abu Ja’far al-Tabari said, “What Ibn Abbas refers to is the degree which Allah mentioned in this verse is that a man should excuse his wife from some of her obligations; he should be lenient regarding his rights over her, and he must fulfill all of his obligations toward her.” [Tafsir al-Ṭabari: 4776]

This is how emotions must be displayed to raise the index of your emotional intimacy, but be careful of the boundaries set by Allah. Do not go overboard to please your spouse so much that you end up disobeying Allah. Shaykh Muhammad al-‘Uthaymeen said, “If emotions are not restrained by Islamic principles or rationality, it can fall to a tempest and cause considerable chaos and profound disorder with its harm which is more than any benefit.” [Tafsir Surah al-Fatihah Page 93]

By following some of the tips mentioned in this article, such as being open-hearted emotionally, having conversations, and overlooking the shortcomings of one another, you will increase your emotional intimacy index. Do not forget that building emotional intimacy takes time and effort, but it will be worth it in the end.

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Nisaar Nadiadwala

Previously a visiting university faculty member in both Malaysia and Tanzania, Nisaar Nadiadwala is presently based in the UAE as a trainer in Public Speaking and Communication Skills. As a consultant and a coach in the field of Public Speaking, panel discussions, news debates, and in anchoring Radio-TV-Podcast shows, he has helped people to build their careers through polishing their skills in making presentations. Besides being an award-winning speech maker, he has received the honorable title of Top Writer on Quora in 2018 and continues to retain that position: https://www.quora.com/search?q=Nisaar+Nadiadwala In regard to his socio-religious contributions, Nisaar focuses on family issues from an Islamic perspective, trying to cover every segment of the family. His special attention remains the tarbiyah of teenagers, for which he is invited to many Islamic Schools as a consultant and as a speaker on the teenage period of life. He relates his work to the grooming of adolescents, motivating them to adopt the Islamic way of life through his TV series, articles and workshops in community schools. His latest release is an E-book Teen's Deen - a collection of short stories for teenagers - published by www.themuslimfamily.net He has hosted his Pre-Marriage Preparatory Workshop in many cities of India and abroad. His book, I want to marry, but …, is the talk of the community in the desi crowd. Mr. Nadiadwala trains both online and in person through his course packages. He can be contacted at: Nisaar Nadiadwala [mnisaar@gmail.com].

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