1. Create Safety. You cannot be vulnerable and transparent when you feel unsafe. Therefore, you and your mate must make a decision to create a space where you can share whatever you feel. You must be intentional about this. Be careful about telling your mate what they should think, feel or want. They must be allowed to think, feel and want whatever it is that is real for them.

2. Talk. Yes, intimacy can be as simple as talking. Real talking — sharing our thoughts, feelings and desires from the heart. The kind of talking where you are vulnerable with one another. Having created safety, you must practice sharing very personal matters. What is private and important to you? Share your dreams and desires only with your mate.

3. Listen. Listening, of course, is not simply putting the evening paper down long enough to nod your head at what your mate is saying. Is means special listening; listening for what is unspoken as well as spoken. What is your mate struggling with in her life? What are the hidden desires that he has difficulty mentioning? What are the feelings that are challenging to express? Help your mate find words for them.

4. Create Special Times. The spontaneous times of affection, those delightful weekends away without the kids, do wonders for reigniting the fires of passion. To have our senses stimulated with new sights, smells and sounds awakens us from the doldrums. We see the world, and our marriage, in a new way. Dress up, go out, laugh, kick up your heels. Search for that woman or man you fell in love with and with whom you shared your soul.

5. Create New Dreams. Just because you have a house in the suburbs, three kids and a job doesn’t mean the dream has to end. Sit down and read a new book and discuss what it means to you. Share your dreams with one another. A new job? A new ministry? A summer cabin in the mountains? That dreamy vacation to Italy? Could it possibly happen?

"How is your beloved better than others?" Solomon asks. (Song of Solomon 5: 9) Have you forgotten that she is playful and silly at times? Have you forgotten his loyalty and dedication to providing for the family? Remember these things. Envision the day you met and the feelings you had. Decide today to end the distance between you and your mate. Decide to slowly, methodically build a bridge back to her. Love, you recall, is not just a noun — it’s an action verb. Love fully and allow him to love you fully as well. Then watch as the chasm narrows and you discover your soulmate again.

This article originally posted on March 24, 2006. It is ninth in a series on nine mistakes most couples make. Read part 8: Letting Go of the Grudges We Hold in Marriage

This article was adapted from  Nine Critical Mistakes Most Couples Make (Harvest House Publishers, 2005).

Dr. David B. Hawkins is a Visiting Professor at International Christian University and specializes in interpersonal relationship counseling as well as domestic violence and emotional abuse in relationships. He has been a frequent guest on Moody Radio Mid-day Connection, Focus on the Family, and At Home Live. You can visit his website at www.YourRelationshipDoctor.com.

Do you need sound, Biblically-based advice about an issue in your marriage or family? Submit a question to Dr. David's advice column by contacting him at TheRelationshipDoctor@gmail.com.