The final part of emotional intimacy is Being Connected at a Deep Level.
We've taken the following levels of communication from Gary Smalley in Secrets to Lasting Love. Where do you see you and your spouse sharing most?
Level 1 is sharing clichés.
This is surface talk. “It’s all good.” “I’m fine.” This is all head and no heart. There isn't much thought in it. Trust isn't required to share on this level.
Level 2 is sharing facts/information.
Here you talk about the weather, friends, sports, work, kids, etc. Not much trust is required on this level either.
Level 3 is sharing opinions, concerns and expectations or conflict.
This level can either be a doorway or a barrier to levels 4 and 5. It will be a doorway if conflict is done openly and in a healthy manner. It will be a barrier if conflict is done via escalation, invalidation, negative interpretations and withdrawal.
Larger levels of trust are required on this level to do conflict well. You can’t have healthy conflict without trust.
Level 4 is sharing feelings.
“Emotions are the colors of the soul; they are spectacular and incredible. When you don’t feel, the world becomes dull and colorless.” ~ The Shack by William P. Young
Our marriages can become dull and colorless when we don’t express emotions well. Helping each other feel safe to share these emotions is important.
When there is tension, using the structure of Speaker/Listener (review this here) helps with the safety that is required for this level.
As trust increases, depth increases which allows you to make the transition to the next level.
Level 5 is sharing the treasures of your soul in hopes, desires and dreams.
At this level, you feel accepted and valued for who you are.
This goes back to being known.
“We are not shallow people; God does not make shallow people. You can, if you choose, close your own mind to the depths within you.”
~How Can It Be All Right When Everything Is All Wrong? By Lewis Smedes
Couples that experience infidelity often begin their relationship with an abundance of sharing at levels 4 and 5. Through the marriage the connection fades and the majority of the sharing is done at levels 1 and 2, thus leaving the door open for connection elsewhere. It doesn't make it right when an affair happens, but this is often an important element in the set up of the situation. A key element in healing is being intentional about sharing more of your inner worlds with one another.