Interpersonal conflict is a common distress expressed in therapy. Relationships are important to our well-being as they foster connection and warmth. Maintaining healthy relationships requires mutual effort and commitment toward becoming healthier versions of oneself. This article will focus on romantic relationships and suggest how to increase emotional intimacy with a partner. Doing so can be especially difficult for couples in long-term relationships, and those are children.

The love language quiz is helpful in helping an individual, and couple figure out how they like to express and receive love. An internet search will take you to the quiz. There are five love languages, namely words of affirmation, physical touch, receiving gifts, quality time, and acts of service. Engaging in all aspects of the love language is important; however, it can be helpful to know the ones that are most salient for you and your partner. For example, partner A expresses affection through acts of service; however, partner B feels most loved through words of affirmation. This may cause conflict as one party might feel like you’re a great partner to the other; however, the ways in which it is expressed aren’t in the manner that is important or registers to the other partner as love. By taking the test and having a discussion, partner A becomes aware to engage in more words of reformation rather than gifts. On the other hand, partner B now recognizes that when partner A engages in acts of service, that reflects their affection for them.

Conflicts are inevitable and normal. Keep in mind the impact of tone and body language while communicating. A helpful strategy to help make constructive feedback more digestible is the sandwich method. You start by giving your partner praise, next stating your concern, and round up another positive feedback. It makes the person on the receiving end less defensive, in addition to reducing feelings of blame, guilt, and shame on either end. Another helpful strategy is the acknowledge, explain, and offer (AEO) method of communicating. Before engaging in this strategy, first, ask your partner if now is a good time. This is important because timing is valuable as opposed to springing it on them and expecting them to be ready when you are. Instead, a discussion about a time that works for both parties is most helpful. When both parties are in the head space to have this discussion, you start by acknowledging their perspective. This looks like saying, ‘I know it wasn’t your intention to hurt me.’ Next, explain the impact of their actions or lack thereof has been detrimental. For example ‘I felt hurt when you canceled our date night as I was really looking forward to doing something fun together”. Lastly, offer a suggestion/solution and check in with them. For example, “I would like to have date nights every Friday just the two of us. What do you think?

Now that we’ve learned about love languages and conflict resolution, how does one keep the spark alive? It’s not easy, especially within the commotion that comes with juggling multiple responsibilities as an adult. A tip is to compliment your partner often for the little things and acknowledge the strengths that they bring to your relationship during small talk. The second tip is to remain curious about your partner and hold space for the new versions of them that arise with time. This can look like scavenging the internet for questions for couples or buying a card game. The goal is to remain aware of and connect with the inner world of your partner that may not come up in day-to-day conversation. Thirdly, schedule sex and have conversations about what you need leading up to/during/after the sexual experience.

For more tips and tricks, visit Or consider using your free EAP sessions for couples therapy at Capital Counseling by calling 518 462 6531. Or visit Psychology Today at to find a clinician. For domestic violence, visit the NYS state domestic violence hotline at 800 621 4673 for English and Spanish speakers for 24-hour assistance. Or consider Equinox domestic violence services at 526 Central Avenue Albany, NY 12206, and/or call their 24-hour hotline at 518 432 7865 for services for adults and children for services such as up to 90 days of bed energy shelter, counseling, and legal support.

By, Chioma Ofodile, MHC Intern