Sitting next to me at a table in one of my favorite little cafe’s, I recently overheard a woman on the phone complaining to someone about her husband. (I think it was her sister. Eavesdropping is a strength of mine.) From what I could pick up on, this woman felt her marriage was in a rut. She talked about how her and the Mr. don’t connect like they used to… how they do things together, but they’re not actually with each other because “he’s always texting someone” and “not paying attention to me.”
I couldn’t hear what the person on the other line was saying, but then she added, “No, we don’t talk like we used to. He doesn’t know how I’m feeling or what I’m working on. He doesn’t even know that I go to the gym after work everyday. We’re living separate lives at this point…” she trailed off.
With eyes wide open, I prayed. God, revive this marriage. Restore their intimacy.
Have you ever wanted to go deeper in your friendships or romantic relationship, but weren’t quite sure how to make it happen? How to get out of the rut or avoid it altogether?
I crave intimacy. I think we all do, even if we’re unable to recognize it or our defenses from past hurts get in the way.
We want closeness with one another, but it’s not happening for so many reasons.
Whether it’s a lack of self-control with our devices or a lack of intention, we aren’t able to experience the depths of a relationship without intimacy.
And if we’re not intentional about it, we might just wake up one day and be in a similar place as that woman.
Even the Bible reminds us how vital it is to have deep and wide relationships…
Without good direction, people lose their way; the more wise counsel you follow, the better your chances. Proverbs 11:14 (MSG)
Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift. Don’t grieve God. Don’t break his heart. His Holy Spirit, moving and breathing in you, is the most intimate part of your life, making you fit for himself. Don’t take such a gift for granted. Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:29-32 (MSG)
It got me thinking. Even outside of my marriage, only new friendships require me to ask questions (lots of them) to really get to know the person, whereas my other longtime friendships have already gone there at some point early on, so now conversation typically revolves around keeping up with each other’s lives. Much less than I’d like to admit am I sitting down with a friend really digging past the surface.
One of my very best friends, Hannah, is incredibly gifted when it comes to intimacy with friends. She’s taught me a lot about the gift of presence, asking questions, actively listening, and getting people to go deeper than they seem to want to go.
Some of my favorite questions she’s asked me include:
- On a scale of 1 to 10, how overwhelmed are you feeling?
- What’s your idea of a perfect night with friends?
- How do you see yourself getting (insert goal) accomplished? What can I do to help you get there?
- If you could choose your last five meals before you die, what would you choose? (She gave me crap for saying I’d want multiple bowls of cereal as one…)
- How can I love you well when the time comes for the twins to possibly leave?
On top of learning from Hannah, I’ve been reading a lot about intimacy in, I’d Like You More If You Were More Like Me, which is the book my small group is going through together.
During every check-in, we go around in a circle and set a timer for two or three minutes. Each person says, “To know me right now is to know that _____.” and then fills in the rest of that sentence. They talk for the allotted time and whenever they pause or run out of things they want to share, it’s silent. No one can respond or interrupt. Once the timer goes off, we reset it for two or three minutes and everyone gets a chance to respond.
Responses aren’t dishing out advice and they aren’t sharing a story about yourself. Responses acknowledge that you were listening and help the person feel heard, known, and help them process. Here are some of the ways I like to respond:
- “When you said _____, I felt _____.”
- “I see you.”
- “After you shared _____, I wanted to ask you _____.”
- “Thanks for sharing.”
- “I had this feeling of _____ when you told us _____.”
What if this week you asked more questions to your coworkers, your significant other, and your best friend? What would change? How might you make them feel by inviting them to be seen and known?
How cool would it be if you initiated a whole new level of connecting by sitting down with a couple of your closest friends and saying, “I want to really know you. Let’s do this little exercise I read about on Manda’s blog!”
I dare you to try it! To really believe in the power of friendships and community and trust that God’s word is true for us today even though it was written so long ago.
Comment a favorite question you either like to ask people or enjoy being asked. I’d also be interested in hearing any thoughts you have after trying this out in one of your relationships. 🙂
(I never intended for this space to be output only. It brings me so much joy to hear your input! I value learning with you.)