No matter what 2017 meant for your marriage you can make 2018 a better year. How? Simply by opening up and talking deeper. What we are suggesting is so ridiculously effective we’re baffled more couples don’t do it. Open up your heart and actually talk about what’s in there. And we totally understand this could be a very scary thing to do.When we were dating we dealt with a bunch of pretty typical dating-level issues. The first, just two weeks in, threatened to break us up. We miraculously got through it and I finally had a relationship last more than a fortnight! Fast forward two years and we had made a deal. We were always going to talk about a problem, no matter how difficult it was. Always. ALWAYS. Never were we going to let a problem fester to the point where it was really affecting our intimacy.
So, over the last 20 years we’ve had a bunch (oh SO many) of hard, really un-fun, frustrating conversations we didn’t really want to have. We’ve had many awkward times just laying on our bed staring at the ceiling silently for what seemed like hours because of the fallout of what the other person had just revealed.
But you know what? Through every deep conversation, we’ve built a relationship of acceptance and ever-deepening intimacy. We’ve got to know each other’s heart, dreams, loves and desires and created strength out of so many problems that threatened to derail us. All because we decided to not stay quiet and instead open up and talk about it.
Initiating such a chat and then actually talking about the real, important, deep, heart stuff can be petrifying. Why? Because often it’s easier to exist in an imperfect relationship that is frustrating but acceptable than it is to rock the boat with a challenging conversation and aim for a deeper, more satisfying relationship.
This is what most unhappy couples do. They leave out the hard talks (until they get too big to deal with) and exist in an unsatisfying relationship hoping it will get better. Here’s the secret: It only gets better through hard work, communication and talking about the deeper things of life.
What kinds of things are we talking about? How about what’s bothering you and why? How about that thing you’d like to do by yourself? Maybe it’s some goals for your marriage or family. Maybe it’s something you need to apologise for, an insecure worry you’ve been carrying or a problem you’ve been hiding.
Why should you break the peace and open up to your spouse? Why go through the fear, the raw vulnerability of bearing your soul and sharing your heart? For one simple reason: to have a relationship that continually grows in intimacy.
Intimacy is always the goal. But many people (*cough* husbands) sometimes don’t see that intimacy is actually much more than just sex. I (Darren) am the main writer here so I’ll give a male perspective for a second and yes, I’m wildly generalising. Sexual intimacy, for the husband, is always a goal. Sometimes THE goal.
But sex is still just one type of intimacy. And you want them all working for you to have real closeness, connectedness and a happy marriage.
Intimacy flourishes in the right environment. And the perfect environment for intimacy to grow is unity. Work on developing your unity no matter what.
Now, unity is more than just being on the same page. Unity is a oneness that comes through agreement, is founded on truth and is deep, open and honest. What does it mean for YOU to be unified with YOUR spouse? Take a minute and think about it.
The foundation of intimacy is unity. The foundation of unity is agreement.
We have discovered that agreement is an area of marriages that, in general, is severely lacking. Improve this in your marriage and you’re going to find much more success, flow and happiness!
But being in agreement can only happen through healthy and loving, clear and honest, real and open communication.
Here’s the deal… it is immeasurably better to say something that might hurt in the short term if it’s going to set you up for long-term gain and closeness and create better patterns of communication.
Practically there’s a best-case scenario for approaching these types of conversations. We use a code. We say, “In the interest of open communication…” then we tend to launch into the problem or concern. This is a kind way of letting the other person know that “we’re about to talk about something deep and important and I need you to listen.” It allows the other person to brace for impact almost. Then, we tend to talk it out until we are in agreement, on the same page through openness, honesty and love.
Truthfully, we can’t think of a better way to improve marriages in 2018. Just talk! Get it out. Open up. Enjoy the journey. And go deeper every time.