Forge Emotional Intimacy in Your "Nice Guy" Marriage
- Wednesday, September 06, 2006
Editor's Note: Read Part I of this series: The "Nice Guy" Marriage: Living in Fear Instead of Bold Love.
You have a lot to teach one another—if both of you are willing to call a truce and approach your problems from a better perspective. The goal of every Christian Nice Guy marriage is to forge the Third Path of Us. This requires both injured parties to stop thinking, talking, and acting as if their way is the only way and approach their marriage from a better perspective. Here are some practical steps you can take today.
For Mrs. CNG
The age-old phrase, you get more bees with honey than vinegar, is at the heart of your important and possibly heroic work. You need to draw him toward you, and the most important thing to remember when dealing with your sometimes maddening CNG is that he must feel safe and comfortable around you before he’s going to become more emotionally connected, truthful, and assertive.
When it comes to emotional intimacy, men usually prefer physical touch and doing activities together that are more active in nature, as women tend to prefer more intimate conversations and thinking together.
So in order to increase the kind intimacy you prefer, you will need to first do it through his preferred forms since CNGs are not likely to make the first move. Increase your willingness to physical touch and action-based activities. And while partaking in them, be careful not to correct him by telling him what to think or do. Just let him be him.
A great way for both of you to get the kind of intimacy you want is to go on regular walks together. Studies show that men are more likely to open up when doing something physical.
Use Your Power Wisely and Justly
You, Queen of Words, have the upper hand when it comes to verbal skill and agility. Chances are you can talk circles around him during these walks or similar activity, often keeping multiple topics going at once while he struggles to stay on track with just one topic.
Just as society encourages men to curtail their physical strength, you too should throttle back on your superior ability to out talk him.
In order to exercise your power wisely and justly to create the Third Path of Us, realize that statistically women are more prone to start relational conversations, and when they do begin them more harshly. Compared with men, women are more comfortable with emotional discomfort and are more prone to blame from the outset, which is bad news for CNG marriages. CNGs don’t do harsh talk or blame—it turns their ears to wood, halting your ability to turn conflict into an intimate moment.
Intimacy expert Dr. Paul Coleman recommends the following gracious but still honest conversation starters:
"I'm angry about something, and I'd like to talk about it"
"I know we've talked about this before, but I need to bring it up again. I'll try to be brief."
"You might not like what I'm about to say, but I need you to listen and see if there is anything that has merit."
"I know that you see things differently than me about this topic, but I’d like to try finding some common ground."
"This isn't easy for me. If I twist my words, please give me a chance to get it right."
When talking with him about important matters, approach him for solutions to the problem instead of as the problem itself. Never, under any circumstance, should you pull out the bazooka of shameful words on him, which create feelings of dishonor, unworthiness, and embarrassment. Such treatment just sends him further into his CNG ice cave.
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