Being There


Several simple behaviors will help you pursue emotional connectedness. Here are a few:

Help Me Help You
Develop a relationship of vulnerability in which you can freely talk about moods and values with your spouse. Don’t wait for him to ask for an explanation about why you’ve been negative lately; open up and tell him what’s on your mind.

Ask Second-Tier Questions
Pursue greater emotional depth in conversation with your wife. Instead of sticking to only the facts (“How was your afternoon?” and “Are you upset?”), ask questions that will get below the surface. Rather than learning about your spouse, begin to really learn your spouse. For example, if she tells you she’s had a “tough week,” second-tier questions would dig deeper:

  • What about this week made it so tough?
  • How long have you felt this way?
  • Are there things about our relationship that made this week tough?
  • What does “tough” mean to you?

Pay Attention

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Notice the things that affect your spouse. What does he react strongly to? What bothers him? What makes him chuckle? What makes him erupt with laughter? Tuning in to his behavior is a great way to better understand his feelings and concerns.

Mean It
Ask her how she’s doing, and really care about her response enough to shut your mouth and listen to it. Listen, listen, listen — without offering advice or a solution unless she specifically asks for it. Let your posture, facial expressions, and tone of voice convey your true concern.

When you shed your own shoes in order to walk in your spouse’s for a while, you can’t help but experience new levels of emotional connectedness. You become closer, more intimate, more in sync. It’s great. Still, that’s not to say it’s easy. In reality, some of the strongest marital bonds come under the worst of circumstances.

Adapted from The Necessary Nine.

Copyright © 2007 Dan Seaborn. Published by B&H Publishing, All rights reserved.

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