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The word intimacy is usually associated with sex. Although sex is an essential part of marriage--there is more to a relationship than this. Intimacy means to be in "a close, familiar and usually affectionate or loving personal relationship with another person or group." Now that we have cleared up the meaning of intimacy--there is more work to be done, even for those of you who have strong relationships. Yes, people with solid relationships struggle with intimacy. Many of problems come from us being human and making poor decisions like not making enough time for our marriage. A lack of nurturing is another reason that hurts as well. There are other things that influence intimacy, said actress Cate Blanchett who has been married for over 16 years. "If you age with somebody, you go through so many roles - you're lovers, friends, enemies, colleagues, strangers; you're brother and sister. That's what intimacy is if you're with your soulmate." If you believe that the intimacy is over, then taking action to correct the problem is necessary to protect your soulmate. Try these 7 tips to bring your intimacy back to life.

"Make a point to spend time together without kids or other interruptions. "

Spend time together.

This is so simple, it won't cost you a dime and it works. Put down your busy life and make time for your spouse. If you are not spending time together, your relationship will just skid and then hit a rut. Make a point to spend time together without kids or other interruptions. Set up a date night once a month, even if it is over Chinese takeout. Try doing something that you both have never done before. If you are both lousy at it, you can share a laugh! Do something to feel like a couple again. By doing an activity together it will help build back lost time.

Start showing more affection.

Work on showing more signs of affection like giving more hugs and kisses. This is an important part of intimacy. Can you think of the last time you kissed your loved one before leaving the house? Try kissing longer or holding an embrace longer. Make it a point to do little acts of affection daily and this will build over time to strengthen your connection. When we just offer affection only occasionally, the person may feel that you have emotionally vacated the relationship.

Make them feel valued.

Make compliments a regular part of your relationship. Tell them that they are sexy, fun and that they light your fire. Do whatever it takes to create a more passionate climate in your relationship. A disgruntled anonymous woman told the Guardian that she was in a relationship for 14 years and shared that her husband felt more like a roommate than a lover. Her lack of validation impacted her life. "I only “recover” from these periods when the rest of life, like the children, takes over and I get distracted by other things," she wrote. We never want to get to the point where we feel that our marriage is just a roommate situation. Express your feelings and compliment your spouse more to avoid this issue.

Don't make sex a chore.

Humans are wired to seek out sex because it is innate for us to procreate and to create intimacy. Many of us are running on fumes by the end of the day and sex is just one more thing to add to the calendar. Sex ends up slipping down on the list of important things to do. Start to focus on the positive aspects and find an appreciation for sex again. Make it more of a celebration rather than a chore and another thing that you have to do. When we make it a chore, the other person picks up on this and your attitude. You really don't want them to feel that way. What happens is the person may perceive that you are rejecting them.

Buy the occasional gift.

When you receive a gift it makes you feel validated and loved, right? The gift is a symbol that they are thinking of you. The thought and the action expressed together is an expression of love. It should be pointed out that the gift doesn't have to be something pricey like a car or jewelry, but it can something that you put some thought into like picking up their favorite chocolate.

Be more thoughtful.

Another way our intimacy takes a hit is that we take people for granted. Over time this can really fracture a relationship as well. Things like saying "thank you," or the simple act of making coffee for them in the morning or doing a Starbucks run is thoughtful and helpful. Try laying out their clothes for the day or make their favorite meal for dinner. These are pretty practical things and they all can be done with little effort. The impact can be impressive as you are setting up your relationship for success.

Be more spontaneous.

Stop being a fuddy–duddy and do something on the fly. To keep the spark in the relationship, we need to be spontaneous. Grab your mate for a quick makeout session or drive somewhere to have drinks. Put sexy clothes on and get out of your yoga pants. We all have things to do but try to live in the moment, not according to your planner. Things don’t have to be so disciplined. It is not good for you or for your spouse.

Relationships are hard and maintaining the intimacy is even harder for many of us to do. Most of the time we just need to slow down from life and do a quick run through over our relationship. If there are things that give you pause, then work to try to fix it. Learning how to master intimacy is one tough hurdle, but with a little determination, we can make our relationships sizzle again.

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