The purpose of communication in a relationship is to create intimacy.
Consider the above for more than a moment and ask yourself a few questions! Do I believe this? Am I communicating just to make a point or to make a connection? How differently would I communicate if my goal is always to create intimacy?
Not everything we communicate creates intimacy. When we consider that the word intimacy implies “In-to-me-see”, we see that the communication that creates intimacy is that which allows others to see into us.
The communication that creates intimacy is that which allows those with whom we are in a relationship to see into us.
Communication goes awry when we allow people to see just the surface. When people see just the surface of who we are, they only get to relate with us on a superficial level versus the depth that is required to create intimacy.
To illustrate, consider the case of a couple I once counseled, whose intimacy had eroded. They both agreed that the issue causing the problem was the husband’s anger problems, which was evident when the couple disagreed about anything or got into an argument.
His inability to communicate without anger was causing her to resent him and withdraw. As we spoke, it became clear that his anger was simply a surface emotion that came from a fear he had of being considered inadequate and unworthy for being wrong. So, he found it safer to simply blow up and throw the whole situation into chaos rather than feel the pain of rejection.
He wanted her to see him only as he desired to be and not as he truly was. He wanted her to relate to half of him.
After communicating his fear, to his surprise she brightened up and held his hand. Instead of rejection, he found acceptance. She finally saw into him and felt closer to him as a result. Then she shared some of her own fears and they were able to find common ground even in their fears and insecurities.
Our fears and insecurities are what create barriers to communicating in a way that creates intimacy.
At this point, we may be tempted to start the process of eliminating our fears and insecurities. While this is a noble goal, it is a goal that many do not achieve in a lifetime. Moreover, it is not guaranteed that new fears and insecurities will not pop up as we walk through life. Since very few people can last in a relationship that lacks intimacy for a lifetime, it is best not to rely solely on this strategy.
A better strategy when it comes to communicating in a way that creates intimacy can be gleaned by looking at the root of the word ‘communication’. The word ‘communication’ comes from a Latin word that means the following: To share; To make common (unite or join).
By this we see that communication can be defined as sharing to make common or to connect. To have a deeper level of communication requires that we share what connects us deeply to one another. Therefore, we must not be afraid of sharing who we are deep inside. When we share who we are, we find that who we are is not that much different from who the other person is. There are too many things that connect us together as human beings for us to allow the surface things that do not matter to derail us in our relationships.