Intimacy, with Kate and Joel Feldman

Posted on March 24th, 2012 by in Relationships

by Portland Helmich

I’ll be honest here, maybe a bit sappy even. Want to know what my favorite song is? It’s “How Do You Keep the Music Playing?”, popularized by James Ingram and Patti Austin. Accompanied by some heartfelt harmonies, the lyrics ask the poignant question: How do you keep romantic love alive year after year?

I don’t know that there’s a one-size-fits-all answer because relationships are as different as snowflakes. But Joel and Kate Feldman, husband and wife for nearly three decades, longtime couples therapists, and founders of the Conscious Relationships Institute in Durango, Colorado, say couples in happy longstanding relationships tend to practice some of the same partnership-nurturing behaviors. After our Kripalu Perspectives podcast, they shared their favorite tips with me on how to deepen love and sustain intimacy:

Show Appreciation. Thank each other daily and often. When your husband makes dinner, thank him. When your wife cleans the kitchen, thank her. Appreciation is a warm, loving energy that builds over time and fills your “bank account” of love.

Communicate. Effective communication is a skill. Practice it with loving kindness. Take responsibility for your own projections and hurts. Refrain from blaming, attacking, or making shaming or hostile remarks. And if you slip, quickly make amends.

Seek Closeness, Comfort, Connection. Intentionally show affection each day. If you feel your connection waning, talk about it and ask for help reconnecting. Scheduling sex is OK, too. Research shows that it’s one of the most effective ways to keep your sex life robust.

Touch without Expectation. Non-demand touch is any kind of touch that is caring and has no expectation that it lead to anything sexual, though it could.  Regular touch between intimate partners builds connection, makes daily life foreplay, and leads to a healthy sex life.

Demonstrate Daily Caring Behaviors. Both partners must feel that the other is a loving, supportive presence. In addition to showing appreciation and affection, demonstrate you care by cooking for one another, listening to one another’s concerns, or participating in activities with your partner even if they’re not your first choice. “I don’t love going to the movies,” Kate admits, “but I go with Joel because he loves them.”

Commit. When you commit to being in a long-term relationship, you tend not to look as much toward exits. It creates a sense of belonging, a sense of “we are going to work this out no matter what.”

Have Fun. Just like scheduling sex, it’s OK to schedule other kinds of fun.  Make time to do whatever you love doing together—gardening, skiing, entertaining, anything.

Inject Humor. It’s necessary to be able to laugh at yourselves. Reminisce about the funniest times of your lives, watch funny movies, play silly games – whatever gets you giggling.

Repair. Make amends to prevent your relationship from becoming overburdened and resentful. Take responsibility for stepping on each other’s toes. Apologize sincerely; it heals hurt.

Make Time. In the modern world, if you don’t make time for your relationship, work can consume your whole day. Here’s Kate and Joel’s rule: No work in the bedroom or while eating. “We try to shut computers off at 8 pm,” Kate says, “so we can check in, look at each other, play with our animals, and just be.”

Read more in The Yoga of Relationships from the Kripalu library.

Learn more about Kate and Joel Feldman and their upcoming program, Being Intimate: A Retreat for Couples.

Listen to Portland’s podcast with the Feldmans.

How do these tips resonate with you? What are some of the ways that you cultivate intimacy and trust with your partner?

Portland Helmich has been investigating natural health and healing as a host, reporter, writer, and producer for more than 15 years. She is the creator, host, and producer of the Kripalu Perspectives podcast series.

© Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health. All rights reserved. To request permission to reprint, please e-mail

About Portland Helmich

Portland is the creator, host, and producer of the Kripalu Perspectives podcast series. She's also is the creator, host, and executive producer of What’s the Alternative?, a series of 52 half-hour talk shows about natural and alternative forms of healing the body-mind that aired on Veria Living TV, a natural health channel on DISH, FiOS, and Frontier. For more than 15 years, Portland’s been investigating natural health and healing as a host, reporter, writer, and producer. She's been an alternative medicine correspondent for Oxygen, a health reporter for The American Consumer on PBS, and was the creator, host, and executive producer of Journeys Into Healing on Wisdom Television. She produced for HealthWeek and Healing Quest on PBS, has done natural-health reporting for WGBH-TV, and was a medical producer for WCVB-TV (Boston’s ABC News affiliate). She’s also covered the subject as a freelance writer for Body + Soul, Alternative Medicine, and Spa magazines. Portland currently lives in Boston, where she produces documentaries and also works as an actor and voice-over talent.

6 Responses to “Intimacy, with Kate and Joel Feldman”

  1. davegerlits March 24, 2012 10:29 pm #

    Portland – there is a lot of good, practical advice here. It sounds like you really enjoyed the interview.

  2. Portland Helmich
    Portland Helmich March 25, 2012 10:00 am #

    I enjoyed the interview indeed.  Kate and Joel were a pleasure to talk to and this topic — how to keep romantic love alive — is especially compelling.  Partnership is ground zero for a lot of us; it’s our foundation in life.  And it’s not the cement kind.  It’s the kind made of soil and seeds.  Nurturing it is essential to keep it thriving. 

  3. Nettie May 8, 2012 1:59 pm #

    Tikkun in Yiddish means “repair” to make whole.. There is no more important, to me, way to be in relationship than caring and in that caring to be big enough to own your hurting and contribute to the ‘others’ healing.. Being right versus happy is the path to isolation and pain and if there is one thing I set out each day to do it is to be happy.. So wonderful article as always you two sweet loving delicious people

    • Portland Helmich
      Portland May 8, 2012 6:16 pm #

      I second Kim’s thank you, Nettie.  Being together — happy sometimes, less happy others, perhaps — is still more important than being right.

      — Portland

      • Nettie May 8, 2012 6:55 pm #

        Well I sure had enough practice defrosting old “stuff” to make sure I didn’t get to be happy but one day I decided that I had a much higher tolerance for living with NO freezer and an even higher one for joy.. Amen Sister

  4. KripaluEditor May 8, 2012 2:02 pm #

    Nettie, thanks for sharing! I love your daily plan to be happy. Sometimes, it is that simple.
    ~Kim A. from Kripalu

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