Building Blocks of Trust
My dear brothers and sisters, be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. James 1:19, NLT
Teresa and I often point out to couples that building a relationship involves being vulnerable and discussing a growing number of topics. Unfortunately, however, many couples develop a list of off-limits topics—topics such as emotions, money, in-laws, sex, driving, golf, and so on. As this list of off-limits topics grows, marital distance widens and a shaky marital foundation soon becomes evident.
To address this issue of "off-limits" topics and to encourage deeper trust in relationships, we challenge couples to communicate with one another about intimacy by asking this question: "What changes can I make to improve our intimacy?"
We also challenge couples to talk about confidentiality within their marriage so that each person is secure that the thoughts and feelings he or she communicates to the other will be kept within the confines of the marriage relationship.
Finally, we ask couples to consider the kind of support they will give to one another as they work to improve their intimacy. We ask couples if each of them can count on the other to be empathetic and supportive, or if they will "shoot down" one another's ideas and negate one another's feelings.
These ingredients encourage vulnerability as trust is deepened and a growing list of topics opens for discussion. Once couples have taken these steps, they can begin communicating what topics they want to open up for discussion. They can do that by writing down the following sentence:
"I think I might enjoy our being able to discuss more about_________.
"They then exchange these lists and begin including one of the topics in their "marriage staff meetings."
When couples begin adding to the topics they can discuss, they find that their closeness is increased as communication opens up.
What topics do you need to open up for discussion within your marriage?
Father, help my spouse and me to deepen our relationship by broadening the array of topics we can talk about.