Telling the Deeper Story
If marriage is anything, it’s relational. But how can couples, like you and your spouse, build a relationship that is intimate and deeply connected? Practicing as a Marriage & Family Therapist has enabled me to see that spouses who have the greatest success in this area are those that have built into their relationship an ability to share their deeper story. I’ll explore what this means for your relationship below.
Moving Beyond the Superficial
I use the phrase, deeper story, to identify a process by which you and your partner can move beyond simply saying you’re angry, sad, frustrated, or hurt, and can effectually do the following:
- Tenderly verbalize your longing for a closer connection and / or express the fear of losing that connection between you.
- Resonate with your husband or wife’s need for a close connection and help them to feel understood.
We see the importance of this process illustrated in a recent study by Makinen and Johnson (2006), who reported that couples who were most effective in working towards a resolution of their presenting concerns (a) disclosed and expressed their needs and (b) affirmed and sought to understand each other.
I realize this level and type of expression may be different than you and your spouse are used to, nevertheless it helps you bring into play certain characteristics that are necessary in moving beyond the superficial in your communication and your marriage as a whole.
Entering Your Spouse’s Emotional World
The characteristics I’m referring to are vulnerability, trust, and safety. Each of these elements are essential to creating an environment where both of you can openly speak to your underlying need for connection, and the associated issues straining your emotional bond.Communicating these important details of your deeper story requires that each of you show, through your tender engagement of one another, that you are someone your spouse can trust and allow into their emotional world.
It Was Always About “You”
Some of you reading this article may wonder why this concept of trust or safety is so important. The reason is that it provides you and your spouse with the environment needed to focus on what matters most in your marriage: that you are important to one another.
When each of you can focus on that aspect of your marriage and directly let the your spouse know how important and meaningful they are to you, you will have taken many steps forward in creating a strong foundation upon which to build a solid communication structure and a vibrant marriage. Just remember to make sure that your actions affirm your statements of their value to you, since that is their primary means of being able to trust what you say.
Seeking Christian Counseling to Strengthen Your Marriage
Understanding the complexities of communication in a marriage is daunting and creating an emotionally connected marriage on the principles of God’s Word is a careful process that takes time, dedication, and knowledge. My aim, as a member of Seattle Christian Counseling, is to come alongside couples and help them develop a marriage that reflects the love and intimacy that God has laid out in his Word. If you and your spouse would like more information about Christian counseling.
Makinen, J. A., & Johnson, S. M. (2006). Resolving attachment injuries in couples using emotionally focused therapy: steps toward forgiveness and reconciliation. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 74(6), 1055.
“Faucet,” by Alex, Flickr CreativeCommons (CC BY 2.0), 14046676780_f3d369b307_k.jpg; “Together,” by Pierre, Flickr CreativeCommons (CC BY 2.0) 2398165684_60b432c050_o.JPG