Gary's blog for couples and parents plus resources for individuals, leaders and churches.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Real Intimacy - Part 2 - The Soul

In this post let me this time discuss intimacy of soul. Soul intimacy means we reveal to one another our feelings, thoughts, wills, goals, and personalities. Intimacy in every area, like we think of physically, involves exposure of one another but that isn't easy.

That was Adam and Eve's problem in the garden. They didn't want to be exposed for who they really were. Note Adam's response to God in Genesis 3, "We were afraid because we were naked so we hid." Many times, rather than admit our struggles or weaknesses we just hide. Exposure isn't easy, especially in the soul arena, but let me offer some practical help.

Gary Smalley suggests that there are five levels of communication from shallow to deeper that we must understand: cliches, facts, opinions, feelings and needs.

Most couples get beyond cliches and can usually talk about facts and opinions. Facts are pretty important since sometimes couples argue about things that they don't even know all the details about. But so many couples get paralyzed on the opinion level. "I think we spend too much money." "No we don't." "You just bought a TV last week and didn't even tell me." And then battle goes on from there. Couples think they have to be right, they can't look bad and then the name-calling and yelling start.

If only couples would learn to go to the next two levels. First, listen and discover what the other person is feeling. And be sure you actually hear a feeling not just something like, "I feel like you never listen to me." That's just another form of an opinion. A feeling would be more like, "I'm hurt because it feels like you weren't listening to me last night."

Once the feeling is discerned - anger, confusion, being overwhelmed, hurt, etc. - it's time to take one more step. (Note: Discovering feelings takes time and should not be rushed.) Start moving toward that fifth level. "What do you need from me that would make you feel less confused right now?" "What did you need from me last night that wouldn't have caused so much hurt?"

Needs help provide an action point along with extra depth in truly understanding the other person. When we ask what the other person needs from us it's not necessarily an admission of guilt. We're simply admitting that yes there is something we might be able to do to help and understand. And if we were wrong then meeting a need helps us learn to do better next time.

When we're willing to risk going to levels four and five we can begin to taste what it really means to be intimate in soul.

In fact, many women, including my wife, have told me that often what they want most is to simply have their feelings understood. They don't always need an answer or a fix.

But . . . there's one big problem apart from just practicing levels four and five and making them a habit. I spoke earlier about the "battle" that goes on for our worth? If our worth is on the line during our discussions with our spouse, we will find it hard to want to really understand the other person. Instead we'll demand that we win, that we look good and come out on top or "right."

If that's your problem, don't miss my next post when I'll talk more about where our identity is really found. But if you are confident about who you are and ready, take some time to practice levels four and five on your spouse. You'll be surprised at how intimate your souls can become and how much closer you get to each other and to God.
Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

Gary is currently a consultant, teacher, speaker and chaplain providing resources for families, leaders and churches.

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