A successful, intimate relationship requires communication with your spouse. That may sound simple, but intimate relationship requires more than knowing what your mate’s schedule is for the week. We need to understand, or at least attempt to understand, each other’s dreams, goals, fears, wants, desires, hurts, joys, and so on. This is not a destination. It is a journey. It is not data you collect and file away. These will continue to change as your spouse continues to grow and change. Thus, the communication journey continues.

Communication is vital to keeping intimacy in a relationship, and it consists of talking, listening and understanding. Usually each spouse is really skilled at one of these. There are those who find pleasure in talking. This can be either gender. Most of us do not mind talking if we are talking about something we enjoy or are passionate about. Some enjoy talking so much they do so without pausing long enough to see if anyone is listening. And others are good at listening. They do not need to offer an opinion or advice. They are just willing to be with you to listen to what is on your mind and in your heart.

Understanding takes listening and talking. Understanding involves taking the time to be curious about what your mate is attempting to communicate. With love and compassion, ask clarifying questions. With empathy seek to know how something is affecting your mate. This may require mustering up patience and compassion. And the truth is, even after an honorable attempt at understanding, you may never fully understand what was being communicated. And that is okay. Love and respect can be found in the honest attempt to understand.

Being understood requires some effort also. Being understood by others requires one to understand oneself. For example, if I am unclear about what makes me feel loved, there is no way my spouse is going to be able to figure it out. We all need to be students of ourselves and of our spouses. Thus we spend a lifetime learning, growing, and healing, and once we marry, we are supportive and empathetic as our spouse is doing the same.