Let’s talk about how you can rapidly mature your relationship. If you’re in a long-term relationship or a marriage, you can really have intimacy. Let’s define intimacy for a moment. The classic definition, “Into me see,” is a great one. It really means connecting your hearts together, being able to listen to and hear each other’s hearts. That’s real intimacy when you have that kind of friendship. I married my best friend Lisa. We’ve been married for thirty-one years now. She truly is my best friend. She hears my heart. I hear her heart. We don’t always agree but we agree to hear and once we’ve heard, it makes things stronger and better. We have some tools we’ve been using for over thirty years every day that I’m going share with you.
What is intimacy?
Intimacy is a result. It doesn’t come because you’re beautiful. It doesn’t become because you’re cute, financially successful, or skinny. You can be all those things and more and have no intimacy in your marriage, because intimacy is a result of a known set of disciplines. In Western culture, we like to have things done instantly. We want to push a button and be skinny. We want to push a button and be rich. Anytime you want to make a change in your life, you change your disciplines.
You will not get change unless you change. If you keep doing the same things, you’re going to keep getting the same results. These things are known to you. I know when I want change I have to look at what disciplines I need to embrace to get the result of that change. If I want health, I have to change things. If I want intimacy in my marriage, or long-term relationship, I need to have disciplines that create those results.
3 important things to follow
If you do the three dailies, I can guarantee you, even in a few weeks, you will feel closer to your spouse. You will like your spouse better and you’ll feel more connected. I can guarantee this because I’ve had couples that haven’t had sex in twenty years, and after just weeks of doing these three things, they liked each other enough to have sex. It really transforms your relationship, but it’s work, W-O-R-K. If you’re willing to do the work, you can have the results. Write these down somewhere. Make yourself accountable on a calendar every day. Maybe give yourself a consequence if you don’t follow through. Maybe do push-ups or some other kind of small consequence so that you really begin to get these disciplines into your marriage and relationship, because so many marriages are emotionally based. Couples are not disciplined in the ways they relate to each other and because of that, they have sloppy relationships and less healthy relationships.
The first exercise is feelings
Identifying and communicating feelings is a skill. Skills can be learned by anyone. I can testify to that personally as well as anyone. I have witnessed many couples who have grown in the skill of identifying and communicating their feelings.
Regarding the Feelings List we would send to you, at the top of the page there are three guidelines you should follow. Number one is— no examples about each other. So when you’re sharing your feelings, you do not say, “I feel frustrated when you … ” You can feel frustrated about kids, dogs, outlaws, politics, potholes, anything in your life other than your spouse. Number two, maintain eye contact, is really important. So many people don’t look into each other’s eyes anymore. Number three—no feedback. So you’re not saying, “Oh, I don’t understand. I don’t get it. Dig deeper, tell me more.” None of that—you’re just hearing the other person share a feeling.
Randomly put your finger down on the feelings list. Boom. All right, you landed on “calm.” Now there’s two sentences on your paper, “I feel calm when … I first remember feeling calm when … “
You do this exercise exactly that way for 90 days. After that, just do two feelings from your day, but it takes about 90 days to become emotionally literate. If you want to expedite that, the “Emotional Fitness” book can help you expedite emotional development.
The second exercise is praises
Think of two things you love, like, or appreciate about your spouse. Get them in your head. This one’s like ping pong. You do one, your spouse does one, you do one, and your spouse does one. For example, “I really love the fact that you were so creative in the way you solved that problem.” Then she has to say thank you. This is very important. You have to say thank you to let the praise enter in. So many people are praised but they don’t let it in, so their account still stays in deficit because they’re not letting the money in the account. When someone gives praise, the other person has to say thank you.
The last exercise is prayer
Whatever your spiritual background is, engage that. If you don’t have one, just say, “God, we’re just supposed to pray. Thank you so much for today. Thank you for my wife. Thank you for my family.” That’s enough, you want get in some kind of spiritual connection because you have a spirit and however you manifest that or experience that, you want to experience it together. I can tell you these three exercises: two feelings, two praises, and prayer, meditation (connectivity, some kind of a spiritual connection) every day becomes a discipline. Every day, you and your spouse are going to process some feelings. You’re going to experience your spouse or your partner as a very safe person. Over time, you begin to generalize, “My spouse is safe. I can share my heart with my spouse.”
What happens is that you start moving closer and closer and closer. The beautiful thing about this is after ninety days you can put the feelings list away. Lisa and I have been sharing two feelings from our day every day. We really know each other and we really stay friends because friends share feelings.
Want to have a happier, healthier marriage?
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.