Early on in our marriage we seemed to talk about everything. Nothing was off limits. We talked at length about our dreams, our struggles, our fears, and our triumphs.
In short, we were vulnerable. We shared things we didn’t dare share with anyone else.
But somewhere along the line (certainly after our children were born) these heart-to-heart chitchats dwindled – along with the intimacy they engendered. We were still talking, of course, but not the kind of vulnerable talks we once shared.
“You can have a two-hour conversation and not talk about anything of substance or value or quality,” says Terri Orbuch at the University of Michigan. She and her colleagues studied 373 married couples for more than 20 years and came up with a prescription for increasing emotional intimacy.
Ready? Here it is: 10 minutes a day for quality conversation.
“Many couples think they’re communicating with each other when they sort out who will pick up the kids, pay the bills or call the grandparents,” says Orbuch. But that’s not the kind of communication she’s talking about. Her research and many others consistently show a link between happy marriages and “self-disclosure,” or sharing your private feelings, fears, doubts and perceptions with your partner.
It may not seem like an earth-shaking insight, especially to engaged couples. But give it just a bit of time and research reveals it’s the #1 problem couples bring to a marriage counselor.
The open and frequent conversations during engagement and early months of marriage almost always decline if a couple is not intentional.
That’s why we dedicate this month’s SYMBIS Update to reminding you that communication is the lifeblood of marriage. And you just may be the key to helping the new couples in your care build a lifelong habit for daily heart-to-heart connections characterize by self-disclosure and intimacy.
Wishing you the very best,
By Les & Leslie Parrot, 2021