When the plans for this blog were originally derived, it was always the intention to have a regular posting on useful books for both personal relationships, and topics of business interest.
I've LET YOU DOWN up until now, and I want to stop the rot!
In another part of my life, SweetP and I are involved, here in Australia, with a voluntary marriage enrichment group called Marriage Encounter. Marriage Encounter is a worldwide group and is associated with many different spiritual communities across the world.
At the moment, SweetP and I are preparing to present a workshop to a couple of local Marriage Encounter groups. The workshop is based on the writing of American couple, Bill and Pam Farrel. The book we're using to nurture all of our relationships is Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti. It's about understanding and delighting in your differences. Yes it sure does sound like a play on which planet the genders are from!!
The way the Farrels talk about listening really caught my eye!
Firstly, they point out what listening is NOT. Guys, I think you might sigh with relief as you read these!
Listening is not :
- an attempt to understand the opposite sex.
- an attempt to become each other's counselor.
- an attempt to fix your partner.
- a personality trait.
To define what listening IS, the Farrel's point out that there are four levels on which communication takes place.
- Small talk. The straightforward stuff of life happens here. It's the domestic logistics, like picking up the kids or buying milk on the way home. It NEEDS to be uncomplicated, quick and unemotional!
- Thoughts and Opinions. This has a bit more depth but "where are we going for dinner" or "what's your favourite colour" doesn't need to be inherently emotional.
But funnily enough, this area can be a stumbling block because couples can allow this one to be a testing point for commitment to the relationship. Eg. "Why doesn't he even know my favourite colour?" Couples can spend unnecessary emotional energy here and never get to delve deeper into intimacy, where the big benefits lie!
- Opinions and Convictions. This is a spot for sharing spiritual or moral convictions. While compatibility is vital, differences in gender, family, personality etc will bring differences in opinions and convictions. What's needed here is significant agreement on the core issues of life eg. moral values, and parenting, or the relationship may be defined by conflict.
- Emotional Intimacy. This is the spot where what you share with your partner, no-one else ever gets to see. Sharing such things as dreams, fantasies, fears, pride, and even distorted thinking, makes you as vulnerable as humans can be, in relationships. It needs safety. It's only reached if you choose to go there!! But of course, this is where the greatest connection can be made, and the greatest benefits, and intimacy achieved.
SweetP and I are looking forward to sharing more of the Farrel's wisdom at our workshops in October and November. The November workshop is being presented for Marriage Encounter couples, but all married couples are welcome.
If you're interested to hear more, email me and I can help you decide if the workshop is for you.
Otherwise, go buy the Farrel's book. It's an easy read with plenty of practical suggestions.