Why do some marriages thrive and why do others just merely survive? One answer could be on the communication levels with which married couples would consistently communicate with each other. A
John Powell, the author of the book Why I am Afraid to Tell You Who I Am, discussed the 5 levels of intimate communication. Understanding these concepts is essential in raising our awareness of where we are in our marriage communication. Are we stuck in just talking about our functions as parents or can we freely talk about our opinions and feelings?
This level is the most shallow of all communication. In this, we ask questions like “How are you?” with which the other would reply ” Fine, thank you.” Or “how was your day?” and the typical answer would be “Good or ok naman.”
This a common conversation we have when we are at a party or a meeting where there is no sharing of what the person is really experiencing inside. Some would engage in this conversation as a better option than an awkward, empty silence.
When couples remain at this level, it leaves a frustrating, unrewarding, and meaningless marriage.
2. Factual Communication
In this level, we merely report or share information to our spouse without our personal inputs. A wife may ask her husband, “Where have you been?” to which the husband will reply, “from a party.” The conversation might resume with a wife’s follow-up, “who were with you?” and he would respond, “just my friends and officemates.”The husband might choose to narrate a story about what happened without revealing verbal or non-verbal feelings.
Factual communication are necessary to make our relationship and family life run like exchanging information about your kids or planning up on house maintenance. But when communication get stuck at this level, just like with cliche-conversation, it leaves a marriage unrewarding and meaningless. Most men settle on this type of communication, but nowadays, women are getting like this too.
3. Sharing of Opinions and Judgements
This level marks the beginning of a deep communication, but it is only like testing the water. A spouse may share his opinion and judgement and anticipate the partner’s reactions. If the partner raised an eyebrow or criticized it, the husband might retreat from sharing further or he might go defensive in his response, hence an argument might ensue.
A husband might share, “I am thinking of investing in a business…” to which the wife will either reply with, “are you out of your mind?” or “oh, is that it, tell me more about it.”
Sharing your opinions and judgments is a bit risky as we are sharing parts of ourselves to our partner and we don’t know how are they going to react. If this testing of water went successful and the spouse felt safe and accepted, he may go to a deeper kind of communication.
4. Sharing of Emotions and Feelings
At this level, a spouse begins to show not only what’s in his head but also what’s in his heart. He begins to share what he feels about you or his situation. He starts to verbalize feelings of happiness, disappointment, hurts, anger.
It is when we share our emotions with our spouse that we feel loved, valued, seen, and cared for. Alternating between sharing of opinions and emotions is a good combination in marriage communication. Here we have a deeper understanding of our spouse, how he thinks and how he feels.
5. Peak Communication
Peak communication is a rare occurrence; it happens when couples are perfectly emotionally attuned with each other. When a couple feel the same emotion with the same intensity at the same moment, they are said to be in a “communal-level communication. It’s as if the two souls merged into one.
In your own marriage, on what level do you and your spouse often communicate? Do you want to deepen your marital communication?