Monday, January 4, 2010

Emotional Intimacy II

Gift from the Warmth

Image by Eden in China via Flickr

Understanding is to good communication as tenderness is to emotional intimacy.  Recall that in understanding each person willingly suspends his/her automatic judgment that the other is wrong.  They stick to listening until they get it and understand the other person's point of view.  Tenderness is the emotional expression of understanding in my opinion.  Tenderness creates and emotional atmosphere of safety, care, and concern.  This is contrasted with harshness or guardedness which leads to shutting down of emotional intimacy. 

 

 

 

This music video is about tenderness . 

We often speak a hash word before we have even stopped to think about what we are saying.  then in pride we hold fast to our position and just like the song says, "All tenderness is gone!" 

Obviously the main way is to avoid harshness and guardedness all together. That requires you to slow down your reactions.  I think that most times it is based in a feeling of defensiveness.  You have to begin to notice when you are feeling defensive and put the breaks on your mouth.  It is quite something to do as the whole process of receiving a message that is perceived as threatening to triggering feeling defensive to a harsh word is literally milliseconds.   If you are not good at this right away there is hope.  I have seen people learn to do this and become more emotionally intimate with their spouses.  First it takes willingness to change this bad habit; then it takes awareness that you are feeling defensive; then it takes extraordinary will power to shut your mouth and listen!!!!  It can be done with practice. 

The Horse is Out of the Barn

This is very simple!  Apologize immediately when you first become aware that harshness and guardedness has crept into the conversation.   Don't wait for the right moment, don't try to figure out who is at fault, just apologize.  Even if you are only a little at fault.  You cannot, You cannot, You cannot have emotional intimacy without tenderness, and apologizing is one of the most tender things you can do when conflict has come up.  If you feel that you are right in what you are saying then say something like, "This is not a good time to discuss this subject, but I want to apologize for the way that I reacted to you, it was wrong.  Maybe we can talk later when I have had a chance to think it through." 

WALK IN GRACE AND BUILD UP

Tenderness is cultivated by sensitive, loving, and caring words and actions.  If they do not come naturally to you then here is a list to give you an idea. 

Warmth
Affection
Loving
Kindness

Interested
Nearness
Gentle
Regard
Affection
Charity
Empathy
Attachment
Nurture
Delight
Benevolence
Understanding
Indulgence
Leniency
Devotion
Unselfishness
Patience

So now the encouragement for emotional intimacy is tenderness accomplished when you "Walk in grace and build up" your spouse.  May God's Grace grant you the will, wisdom, and strength to accomplish this in your marriage. 

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