Building Emotional Intimacy with your Partner (without sex) with Rory and AJ Vaden

The Vadens discuss how they’ve successfully balanced running a business together and maintaining a happy marriage.

The Vadens discuss how they’ve successfully balanced running a business together and maintaining a happy marriage.

“When you take sex out of the equation...what are you left with? A true relationship of getting to know somebody.” -Rory Vaden

In this week’s episode number 37, we welcome Rory and AJ Vaden. The Vadens co-founded The Brand Builders Group, a personal brand strategy firm where they love to work with individual entrepreneurs and influencers to help them build a rock solid reputation™, connect with their audience and expand their reach.

AJ Vaden is an international speaker, million-dollar producer and co-host of the Rich, Famous, and Influential Podcast. She was part of launching and building a very successful 8- figure coaching and consulting business and has worked with organizations such as Bridgestone, Verizon Cellular Sales and DIRECTV.

Rory Vaden is the New York Times bestselling author of Take the Stairs. As the world’s leading expert in Reputation Design, his insights have been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, CNN, Entrepreneur, Inc, on Fox News national television and in several other major media outlets. As a world-renowned speaker, His Tedx talk has been viewed over 2 million times, he is a 2x World Champion of Public Speaking Finalist and he was recently named as one of the top 100 leadership speakers in the world by Inc Magazine.

While other married couples say they could never work with their spouse—the Vadens say, we’re best friends, why WOULDN’T we? I’m so happy they came on to share their best secrets with us on how to have a happy marriage and work life.

Have you ever wondered if there’s any other way to build intimacy besides sex with your partner? Listen in to hear how the Vaden’s decision to stop having sex until they got married, and to stop drinking alcohol, deepened their emotional connection. You’ll also hear about their commitment to staying debt-free and how it has allowed them to run a business together and still maintain a happy marriage. This conversation will leave you thinking…”I’ve never considered doing that before, but maybe I should…”

To mix love and business or not?

Rory and AJ met when they started a business together. They were both in relationships at the time, so for the first year of knowing each other, they were really just acquaintances and business partners. After a year, they found themselves both single, and it was “love at second sight” as they say. Since they were in business together and were thinking about the livelihood of their employees, there was a lot of “should we, should we not” back and forth.

They finally shared their first kiss at a Valentine’s Day ball, where AJ was actually there on a date with someone else. Rory was very hesitant to kiss her, thinking about the business. But AJ was not about to let a great guy slip by. Ladies, we all know the struggle! Ultimately, they realized their connection was undeniable and this relationship was worth pursuing.

“She made the first move. She said, ‘Just do it!’ and then she kissed me.” -Rory Vaden

The Vaden’s tell us why it’s so important to marry your best friend.

The Vaden’s tell us why it’s so important to marry your best friend.

The moment he knew this relationship was forever

“I want to answer how I knew she was the one! That’s one of my favorite questions to answer.” -Rory Vaden

AJ’s mother died suddenly of cancer when AJ was just fifteen years old. Years later, Rory and AJ were at her brother’s wedding where everyone was making toasts, describing how great their mother was and how proud she would have been. This was when Rory thought to himself, “They’re describing AJ. I’m going to marry her and we’re going to be best friends for life.” CUTE!!

Should you marry for passion or friendship?

Studies show you should marry your best friend over someone you just have loads of sexual chemistry with (hopefully they both come in one package deal!), and Rory and AJ are the real-life proof. They are now happily married and they truly have been best friends. Throughout their time together, they’ve learned something very important:

“People think of a relationship as more about sex or passion, but it’s more about service and friendship, trust and loyalty. You want to be best friends. You don’t lie to your best friend.” -Rory Vaden

I’ve never not trusted him, ever. He really is my best friend. He’s the number one person I would want to hang out with. -AJ Vaden

Over the past 12 years together, they’ve never lied to each other.

Ok ok, Rory had ONE little slip up. Tune in to hear his funny little lie;)

They also love spending time together. They don’t feel the need to split their time by “guy time” and “girl time”, but they actually enjoy doing typically “masculine” and “feminine” activities together. They do everything from watching March Madness to even getting mani-pedis together. Yay for breaking stereotypical gender norms!

Their decisions to stop having sex and get out of debt before marriage

Taking sex out of the equation while you're still dating may lead to becoming more emotionally intimate with your partner.

Rory and AJ made two big decisions that most couples do not make these days. The Vadens believe these decisions led to a deeper connection in their relationship and a release of so much pressure and stress. The first is, they decided to stop having sex before marriage. They waited a total of two years and found that this helped gain clarity to know if they really enjoy spending time with this person and can do this for the rest of their lives.

“If you take sex out of the equation, you’re left with a true relationship of getting to know each other. It becomes really apparent as to whether or not you get along with this person and really enjoy them.” -Rory Vaden

They also agreed to not get married until they were debt-free, and continue to do everything in their business life and personal life without debt. They always live below their means, and therefore they never have to waste energy arguing and worrying about money. It never elevates to a crisis mode, which relives them of that stress and pressure.

“It allows us to make sure our conversations are more about dreaming and growing versus ‘we can’t pay the bills’. It’s made an entire difference in enjoying what we do, enjoying being with each other, and never putting a big strain on our relationship.” -AJ Vaden

Rory’s decision to stop drinking alcohol

When the Vadens found out they were pregnant and AJ had to stop drinking alcohol, Rory committed to stop drinking right along with her. From this experience, Rory had a life-changing realization:

“Every single mistake I ever regretted when I look back, I had been drunk. It was a big wake up call for me to realize I have more fun when I’m drunk.” -Rory Vaden

He thought, something’s wrong here. He had to ask himself, “Is that the life I want to live, where I have to be drunk to live my greatest life?”. He needed to re-learn who he was and re-determine what fun and joy looks like in his life without alcohol. Relating back to their marriage, Rory realized that you should not only marry the person who brings out the best in you, but the person who you want to be your best for.

It’s important to do your own deep work to find out who you are before diving into a relationship.

It’s important to do your own deep work to find out who you are before diving into a relationship.

The parallel between relationships and personal branding: Find your identity

Rory and AJ co-founded The Brand Builders Group, which is a personal brand strategy firm. They are unique in that rather than working with companies, they work with entrepreneurs and influencers who are passionate about their message and want to become known for this message in their marketplace and increase their presence.

They believe people tend to make the mistake of jumping straight to the visual expression of their brand, and miss the very important strategic foundation that grounds who you are, what you stand for and who you serve. Without doing this deep strategic work, your brand message will be disconnected and unclear.

“There’s a parallel between relationships and personal branding. In a relationship, sometimes they just want to meet a mate and go. They don’t do the deep work of figuring out who they are and who they want to be. That’s the deep work we do with a person, we help them find their identity and get really clear on their positioning in the marketplace: what is their expertise and who do they serve.” -Rory Vaden


If you’re an entrepreneur or a couple who needs help building your personal brand and finding your unique voice in the market, Rory and AJ want to help! Fill out the form at for a free strategy call.


How to do your own deep individual work and be ready for a relationship

Rory describes himself as a self-help junkie. He has found studying about The Five Love languages is extremely important—we all give and receive love differently; you can learn more about this by taking the Love Intently Love Personality™ quiz here! Rory also found the Landmark Relationships Seminar to be helpful in terms of relationships and communication.

As for AJ, she has found that having a dedicated community to meet with on a regular basis has been most beneficial in her personal growth. She finds her community through a weekly Bible study, which for her is a place to unload and to lift each other up with like-minded people. She also meets once a month with her local Entrepreneurs Organization, which is more of a business focus, but they still talk about marriage and family.

To Love Intently is to not just say I love you but to show I love you.

What does Love Intently mean?

AJ has a beautiful way to explain what Love Intently means to her:

“To not just say i love you but to show i love you. It’s not self-sacrifice but it’s the gift of making choices that will make someone else feel good. Choose things that would make the other person feel love.” -AJ Vaden

Resources and links mentioned:


Instagram: @brandbuildersgroup

Free strategy call with the Brand Builders Group:

Book: Take The Stairs by Rory Vaden

For financial planning: Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey

Find your Love Personality™:

For relationships and communicating: Landmark Relationships Seminar

EO entrepreneurs organization:

The School of Greatness podcast: