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Emotional Intimacy In Marriage

The journey of marriage is God's plan to finally reach exaltation, and therefore, we are expected to do more than coexist or live parallel lives in our marriage. The building of emotional intimacy is necessary to achieve a prosperous eternal marriage.
Emotional Intimacy In Marriage

Intimacy is important for both sexes
Culturally and historically, there is a common stigma that women need more emotional intimacy than men, however, men also need intimate relationships full of love to flourish in their lives. Some may not necessarily realize or even accept this, but there is research confirming this.

The Grant study, coordinated by George Vaillant, has become the most extensive longitudinal study on the lives of men. For more than 75 years, Harvard recruited men from the 1939-1944 promotions have been studied with the purpose of finding those that led to an "optimal life."

Ten goals achieved in their lives were identified as factors that predicted a man's ability to be a balanced and successful adult, even one of them was having a good marriage.

They also identified the importance of other emotionally intimate relationships, such as relationships with their mothers, fathers, siblings and close friends. The power of these intimate relationships influenced very real aspects of the lives of men, as well as their income and personal happiness.

In relation to income, although all study participants entered the labor camp with their education at Harvard University, the 58 men who obtained the highest scores in sentimental relationships earned about $ 150,000 more per year than the 31 men in the I study with the worst scores in their relationships.

In relation to personal happiness, the most successful marriage in the Grant study also resulted in the happiest man in the study. "In short, it was the ability of intimate relationships that predicted to flourish in all aspects of these men's lives."

Continuing with the findings of the Grant study, it was shown that the happiest couple in their study, Mr. and Mrs. Chipp (a pseudonym), enjoyed doing a variety of activities together, such as reading, surfing, making annual trips canoeing and walking together. They talked openly about life problems, they depended on each other just by accompanying each other.

They rated the quality of their marriage for decades and, at 80, Mr. Chipp proudly told the interviewers: “I have lived happily ever after.

Valiant concluded the following: "The more men were able to appreciate shared dependence as an opportunity instead of a threat, the more they increased the positive feelings they expressed about their marriages."

These opportunities are available for both men and women within the marriage relationship. Happiness and joy come when we allow ourselves to be open to our spouse and truly connect in a genuine, valuable and intimate way. What follows is a discussion of some basic practices necessary to foster and build emotional intimacy with our spouse.

Verbal connections are important for emotional intimacy. Speaking and listening allows words and feelings to be communicated, which helps spouses feel connected to each other. This has great power to calm, comfort and lift.

Verbal connections are important for emotional intimacy. Speaking and listening allows words and feelings to be communicated, which helps spouses feel connected to each other. This has great power to calm, comfort and build.
Emotional Intimacy In Marriage

In remembering the importance of words, we must keep in mind that there is a difference between speaking to our spouse and speaking with our spouse.

Psalm 55:14 tells us: "Together we communicated in sweet counsel, and in the house of God we walked in friendship." In this verse, the footnote of the company page says "fellowship." As we speak, connection links grow and feelings of fellowship deepen. Nephi illustrates this principle in the way he handled his intimate relationship with the Lord: "And it came to pass after speaking with the Lord ...

Martin Seligman outlines four options we have on how to respond to communications with others:

1. Active constructive communication is responding in a manner
Authentic, enthusiastic or supportive.

2. Passive constructive communication is to offer brief and unspecific support.
3. Passive destructive communication is ignoring the stimulus rather than addressing it.

4. Active destructive communication consists of pointing out the negative aspects of the stimulus.

Only the first of these options represents a healthy and intimate conversation.

Therefore, to strengthen our relationship with our spouse, we must try to respond to them in an active and constructive manner. For example, if your spouse says: “I received a new appeal today,” we can respond with interest and love:Great! What are you going to be doing What are your new responsibilities? How do you feel about that?"

This type of conversation will stimulate a conversation that creates the opportunity to build and strengthen intimacy and bonds of trust. If we do not turn to our spouse with this kind of supportive interaction, we can respond recklessly with some of the other useless and even destructive responses.

In this example of the new appeal, a passive constructive statement can be a simple "That's fine" and that kind of simple comment cuts the conversation to a very abrupt closing. A passive destructive statement can work and completely change the conversation: “You know, the fire alarm is ringing in the hall again. I need you to replace the batteries. ”

An active destructive comment may be intended to undermine and discourage your spouse when a new stage of church service begins: “I tell you that this new call will require a great deal of work every week, and deal with all those people will be nothing more than drama! ”

As we work to respond and communicate with our spouse in an active constructive manner (which improves the process of our communications) we must be aware of the quality of the content we communicate. We want to be vulnerable and communicate things of real importance to us, including things that make us feel vulnerable.

For example, Douglass Brinley and Mark Ogletree, Mormon marriage and family therapists, and religion teachers at BYU, have taught that there are three levels of communication in marriage. These include the superficial level that is informative and low risk; the personal level that shares deeper parts of ourselves, such as our goals and dreams; and the level of validation at which we praise and congratulate each other. In order for intimacy to be present in the marital relationship, the husband and wife must ensure that their conversation includes a balance between the three.

Unfortunately, many couples maintain their communication at a superficial level. Ogletree commented: “Superficial communication can supplant deep and meaningful conversations. If couples are afraid to talk about deeper issues that need to be discussed, they will never learn to resolve conflicts or connect with each other. Couples come together while discussing things that matter, not things that are not. I have seen many couples who have tried to preserve their relationships by maintaining their communication at a superficial level. By avoiding "heavy" issues they have actually destroyed their marriage.

On the contrary, we must be willing to extend ourselves, open ourselves to communication at personal levels and also for validation. This requires a bit of vulnerability on our part, and for some couples approaching vulnerability can be risky or even threatening.

However, for true intimacy to grow within our relationship, we must share and allow our spouse to access those parts of us that others in the world may not see. Those are the types of conversations that can help build greater emotional intimacy or even rekindle a sense of closeness that could be lost.


Talking is only one side of the communication process that fosters an emotionally intimate relationship; We must also be receptive and compassionate listeners. If we remember that we have two ears but only one mouth, maybe we will remember to use our ears more! Luke reminds us: "He who has ears to hear, let him hear" (Luke 14:35).
Emotional Intimacy In Marriage

Intimacy begins when the speaker communicates personally relevant and revealing information to the listener, as discussed in the previous section. In return, the listener must respond to the specific content of the initial disclosure and offer understanding, validation, and love for the speaker. For the interaction to be intimate for the speaker, the speaker must be able to perceive or interpret the listener's responsiveness.
One writer commented on the importance of the speaker being “heard” by the speaker: “Being heard is like being loved; In fact, being heard is one of the highest forms of respect and validation. By listening, we are telling our spouse: ‘I care about you, I love you, and what you have to say is important.’ ”

To successfully achieve the listening part of our verbal communication, we must "be quick to listen, take time to speak" and not listen with the intention of responding, but with the intention of fully understanding.

Elder Neal A. Maxwell advised: “Allow us, therefore, to define service to others as a genuine listening, a listening that is more than just being patient until it is our turn to speak; rather, a listening that includes a real response, not simply absorption of assent. ”This requires stillness or calmness in our behavior.

As we are patient and work to stay present with our spouse during the conversation, we must also decrease the impulsivity, nervousness or anxiety that makes us want our spouse to behave as we would like to adjust to our needs. We must give our spouse space to fully communicate what they need to communicate without pressing them to rush.

Elder Maxwell continued: “Let, from time to time, our service includes the willingness to carry on the conversation when what we have said has already been said. To contribute ... with time and space for another to expand is to reflect the nobility of silence. There are many occasions when abstaining is giving way to another.

It is important that we listen and ask clarifying questions about what our spouse is communicating. Doing this requires that we learn to listen with a soft heart.

Listening with our hearts requires discernment and sensitivity to the underlying messages or problems that our spouse is trying to convey; This may also require careful attention to the non-verbal communication of our spouse.

This type of listening does not happen by accident. Listening with our hearts requires humility to ask: What is my spouse really communicating? Perhaps a story about difficulty at work is not really about work, but about feeling vulnerable or incompetent. Perhaps a rant about how difficult it is to stay at home with children is not about diapers or messy houses, but about a request for help or about feeling undervalued or personally stuck.

It would be excellent if our spouse could always explicitly communicate what they need from us during a particular conversation, but that is not always the case; Sometimes they themselves may not know exactly what they need. Then, by listening with our hearts, the Spirit will guide us to know the true message that our spouse is trying to convey.

When we talk about using our hearts to listen, there is another aspect that we should also consider: “If you will hear his voice today, do not harden your hearts, as in the provocation.” (Hebrews 3:15). Sometimes what we hear is hard to hear. It can be difficult to hear the spouse talk about what we have done that has harmed them or have them offer us correction in some way. However, if we listen with a soft heart, we will not be offended. We will not get on the defensive and then we will appropriate the moment and throw ourselves into a conversation that will make us listen.

By doing our part to listen, over time the natural rhythm of the discussion will allow us to share our feelings about what we have heard. Then we can rely on that process and not act too quickly to react, refute, replicate or recede.

“This article was originally written by Debra Theobald McClendon and was published by under the title.
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