“Communication is the key to intimacy.”
We’ve all heard it, and probably said it at one time or another. True, heartfelt, deep intimate sharing of life’s thoughts and passions is an ideal that most marriages should strive to attain.
Yet often it’s the simple things in life that go overlooked and create opportunities for misunderstandings and divided communication that hinder the true intimacy eveyone should experience in a healthy marriage relationship.
How communication is defined by you and your spouse will either limit or expand the intimacy of your relationship. Many people define communication as the transfer of information.
The problem with this definition is that it limits your level of intimacy by confining it strictly to sharing the details and facts of daily living. Such communication can be had between an employer and an employee, a teacher and a student, with a coworker or merely with casual acquaintances.
An expanded definition of communication leads to true intimacy that goes beyond the sharing of mere facts and into heartfelt attitudes and emotions. Communication, therefore, is more than just the transfer of information. It is the transfer of information to develop greater understanding.
Paying the bills. Dropping off the dry cleaning. Picking up the kids from practice. Grabbing groceries on the way home. Those are all details of life that need to be communicated in a marriage, but they are just that—merely details.
The attitudes and emotions involved in the facts of daily living are important for a husband and wife to share in order to develop greater understanding of what each spouse is experiencing. Everyone wants to be understood; sometimes the details of life, get in the way of developing understanding, and can even lead to frustration.
Many couples become frustrated with their level of communication, because their expectations of their spouse are unmet, and often they are unmet in the simple details of daily living. When a healthy marriage shares the details of life, the opportunity for disappointment brought about by unmet expectations is reduced.
Many couples could increase the level of communication and intimacy through the simple exercise of expressing short-term goals to, and with, each other. The easy discipline of sharing tomorrow’s calendar with each other before going to bed can eliminate some of the frequent causes of disappointment and frustration.
In other words, just by sharing with your spouse, what your schedule is like the next day can help he or she to understand what can be expected or adjusted tomorrow. In counseling, many couples site petty arguments that develop around the inability to communicate their expectations of each other on a daily basis.
If a spouse knows what their spouse is doing the next day, then they can adjust both their own schedule and the expectation they subconsciously place on their spouse’s schedule accordingly. This limits the tendency to call upon your spouse to do something when it may be impractical and sometimes impossible for them to do it, leading to disappointment and frustration for both parties.
Couples who have learned the habit of sharing daily goals (and even share what they expect to do during the next few days) reduce opportunities for dissension, division and frustration to crop up. Their response to each other is not based on unrealistic immediate expectations of the other person’s time commitment but on an understanding of what can be accomplished together.
When encouraging couples in counseling, I often recommend this simple action:
Try to look at your schedule for the next two days, express the highlights of it to your spouse each night, and then include an emphasis on the times that you two will spend together as a couple. Ask your spouse if those are realistic expectations and intently listen to their observations. Your spouse will feel valued, honored and considered, knowing that they are a priority in your planning process.
It may seem simple, but the consistent pattern of expressing your time expectations to each other can go a long way toward limiting disappointment and miscommunication, while leading to expanded opportunities for increased deep, heartfelt communication. After all, let’s practice transferring information to develop understanding.