Great Expectations!

Check out our latest guest blog, Great Expectations, for Innovation 360, a counseling center helping people recover from addiction through an innovative combination of therapy and life development activities.

Keys to Listening Well – Creating&Maintaining Intimacy

Our next two blogs focus will be on Improving Communication skills which will help with both emotional and physical intimacy.  Communication consists of two jobs, listening and talking.  For good communication that leads to deeper intimacy we need to do both well.

Even in the quietest homes there is constant communication going on.  Most of our communication is non-verbal, in the form of

  1. facial expressions,
  2. tone/volume of voice
  3. body language

So what do we do to improve our communication with one another?  It’s 2 fold, Listening Well and Talking Well – both of which require mindfulness of yourself and your partner.

Here are 5 Keys to Listening Well:

(Remember the non-verbals!)

  1. Make eye contact – this is one of the best ways to show someone you are listening to them as they talk.  If you are looking
  2. Direct your body to your partner – rather than facing the tv, turn toward the person talking, it shows them you are interested in hearing them
  3. Nod your head to express understanding and interest – rather than a zombie stare, nodding shows you are following them
  4. Don’t interrupt – don’t worry about trying to figure out your response, you will get a chance to speak too but your job is to listen now
  5. Reflect – Reflection requires your interpretation:  Imagine the conversation as a mirror.  Once they have finished their statement you reflect back to them what you just heard.  This is not PAROTING…Polly want a cracker.  No this is repeating their statement with a mixture of empathy and validation.

Remember that you want to be in tune with your partner and show them that you care what they are saying and you want to hear them.  After all, if I don’t show Michael that I care about him by listening well then we are

Good communication can prevent misunderstandings, hurt feelings and conflict.

more likely to experience misunderstandings, hurt feelings and conflict.

Now, it’s hard to listen if no one is talking…yeah, like that’s ever a problem?!  Right?!  Well stay tuned, next time we’ll be discussing the keys of talking well.

Safety Saboteurs – Creating&Maintaining Intimacy

Last week we emphasized how our individual differences impact intimacy in our marriage and the need for open communication to come to common ground.  That’s all great when you’re talking about the small stuff, where should we eat tonight or how do we fold the towels.

But, then there’s the stuff in life and marriage you don’t plan for or expect such as financial hardships, loss of a loved one, challenging children.  It’s hard to remain intimate when you realize you aren’t going to be able to provide financially the way you anticipated, you are grieving or you disagree on how to parent your headstrong child.  What about the other stuff in life that happens and no one really talks about?  The stuff that isn’t discussed until after it happens, such as: fertility issues, depression, severe illness, in-laws moving in, etc.

How do you invite intimacy into feelings of brokenness, hopelessness, etc.

Continually providing safety within your marriage is the key to intimacy.  When you are dating, you are trusting pieces of yourself as the relationship grows and intimacy develops.  Now that you are married, you’ve likely revealed almost everything about yourself.  Safety is everything at this point, because we are trusting that our spouse can handle everything you have revealed over the years as opposed to small pieces of you at a time, in addition to life as it happens to you as a couple.

We have identified some safety and trust saboteurs.

Safety saboteurs

  • Unspoken Expectations – read here for more on this topic
  • Secrets
    • anything that makes you experience that twinge in your gut when you may think “what if my spouse finds out?”
  • Poor communication skills – this invites circular arguments that are left unresolved and increased defensiveness for both parties
  • High levels of stress (lack of self-care) – unbalanced life and priorities will lead to burnout and allow for very limited time to emotionally and physically connect with your spouse.

Creating that safe environment

Engagement Table
Dating your spouse increases intimacy.

Think back to the beginning of your relationship.  What helped create that sense of safety between you and your spouse?  (DATING, INTENTIONALLY SPENDING TIME TOGETHER, etc.)

We want to challenge you to sit down with your spouse this week and reminisce about your favorite dates, list activities you both already enjoy doing together as well as activities you’d like to try out together.  But hey, let’s not stop there!  Get out your calendars and begin to plan out dates.  Think through the different commitment levels each will take, time, financial and energy.  Then enjoy dating your spouse again.  Who knows date night might be better than when you were dating!

STOP – Holiday Survival Tip #5

Christmas is finally here and on the morning of Christmas Eve many of us are making pies, baking hams, rushing to get those last minute gifts, running out to the store one last time because you forgot the green beans for the green bean casserole.  Yesterday I had 3 items I needed from the store and I ended up having to go to three different stores to find each!  It could have easily become a very frustrating afternoon, fighting traffic in and out of parking lots, standing in long check out lines and knowing I still had to make another stop, however it wasn’t frustrating or stressful.  I found myself smiling throughout and here is why… Continue reading

Just Say No (Boundaries!) – Holiday Survival Tip #4

As Christmas draws closer the frantic pace of holiday season always seems to ramp up even more.  I know my schedule never seems to slow down during this time.  If I’m not careful my favorite time of the year will fly by and I’ll have hardly taken a step back to take it in and enjoy it.  There are so many parties to attend, so many gifts to buy and wrap, so many decorations to pull out, dust off and put up around the house.  Not to mention getting the Christmas cards in the mail, and ordering those last minute gifts that you pray will make it in on time.   Whew, that’s exhausting!  Rather than getting lost and missing out on the joy of the season, I want to challenge us to practice a very controversial and dangerous word…NO.

Continue reading