In the early years of our marriage, Bob and I communicated head to head.
Roxann: “How was your day?”
Bob: “Too much to do and not enough time to do it. How was yours?”
Roxann: “I think the washer is on its last legs and that letter you’ve been looking for finally came.”
Our style of communication was necessary to navigate through our busy life, but we never seemed to have time to go deeper with each other. To be very honest, because our household ran fairly smoothly, we never even realized something was missing.
It took John Regier, a teacher/trainer and gifted counselor to teach us how to “speak to each other’s heart.” Speaking to the heart means going beyond a factual exchange of information. It goes beyond an exchange of opinions. Speaking to the heart goes deeper. About 12 inches deeper—to the heart and emotions and source of how we perceive life and why we react to certain triggers.
After we returned from John Regier’s seminar, we spent 30 to 60 minutes most nights practicing what we’d learned. We made a point of removing distractions and listening deeply. We tried to understand each other’s heart and both rejoice and care for what the other was experiencing or had experienced. The “head conversation” above turned into a “heart conversation” like this:
Bob: “How was your day?”
Roxann: “Everything I tried to do didn’t get done. I felt like I was banging my head on the wall.”
Bob: “What happened?”
Roxann: “The computer ate my document and now I have to re-do the entire thing. And it’s due tomorrow!”
Bob: “What does that do to you inside?”
Roxann: “I just want to give up. It makes me feel like it’s futile to even try.” [Bob might go deeper by asking about where the feeling of futility came from. This would give good insight about why I want to give up in other situations.]
Bob: “You’re a productive person. You get more done than most people. Sometimes those days just happen.”
Roxann: “Seems like I’ve had more than my share lately.”
Bob: “Can I just hold you and let you rest for a few minutes?”
The nature of our relationship changed once we realized we could go deeper and started taking the time to do it. We had a sense that we were rooting for each other and working together as a team. At first, it was a conscious learning process. Now, it is a natural part of our conversation.
Whenever we survey people as to the marriage topics they would most like to hear, emotional intimacy is at the top of the list. We live busy lives. If we want to deepen and strengthen our relationship with our mate, we need to take time to listen to them and speak to their heart.
Appendix B of The Marriage Dance contains many emotional intimacy questions to get you started. (You can buy it on Amazon.) The concept of emotional intimacy and speaking to the heart is best understood when you see it demonstrated. For a live demo, contact us about the possibility of speaking for your group.
This week, get out of your head and go 12 inches deeper with your spouse. Listen, care, and speak to their heart.
This article first appeared on The Marriage Dance blog on August 17, 2017.