Building Emotional Connection Webinar


Transcript:

Good evening to each of you. It’s a real privilege to be with you tonight. And I guess I want to echo Arlan’s words, just thanks for being with us. You’re taking an hour out of your precious evening to spend some time with us. And, that means a lot. And so we trust that this will be an opportunity that we can just share and learn together.

So, as he mentioned, tonight we’re gonna talk about emotional connection. It is a complex topic and one that we could spend lots of time on. So we’re gonna just touch on the iceberg here this evening. So we’re gonna cover a couple things. First is knowing and being known. What does it mean to know?

And so each of these sections, we want to introduce just a concept and then leave you with a practical kind of way of exercising that, and then at the end, we’ll leave you with some takeaways. And so we’re gonna start there and then finally, we’re gonna talk just briefly on emotional connection, what it is practically, what that looks like.

And, kind of walk through that together. So first let’s talk a little bit about knowing, what it means to know. So we read in 1st Peter 3:7, it says, likewise, ye husbands dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honor unto the wife as unto the weaker vessel and as being heirs together of the grace of life that your prayers be not hindered.

So this word knowledge actually shows up in Scripture in a number of different forms. One is, many of you I’m sure can call to memory, New Testament Scripture in particular that implies the word, know. So, like the Father, knowing the Son and the Son, knowing the Father and this is eternal life to know the only true and living God. And those, the word, know, as it’s used in the New Testament often the Greek word behind that is ginosko, and the meaning of it is a full knowing and a complete knowing. And it represents relationship between the individual, oftentimes who is seeking and to know and the one being known and the one being known of being valued and of importance to the one that’s seeking to be known. And this knowledge here is actually, another word, that is, gnosis and it means the intellect or to know intellectually. And so in 1st Peter, if you look at this in the Amplified Version, it reads, in the same way, you husbands live with your wives in an understanding way with great gentleness and tact and with an intelligent regard for the marriage relationship as with someone physically weaker, since she is a woman show her honor and respect as a fellow heir of the grace of life so that your prayers will not be hindered or ineffective. And so certainly in this passage, it’s speaking specifically of the husband knowing the wife, but in a broader sense, whenever we speak of marriage, we understand that it’s a metaphor really of our relationship with Christ and our union with Christ.

And so to know, one way of knowing that we’re speaking of here specifically is through intellect and through my understanding or what we’d refer to cognitive knowledge. Okay. So I want you to think about a metaphor. We don’t often use maps anymore, but I have memories of going on road trips and we would run into whether it be traffic or certain situations.

And my parents would be pulling out the map. You know, unwrapping the map and taking a look at it. And, if you think about a map, the reason and the purpose for a map is to identify the territory, right, in the location or the place that we’re going. And so when we look at maps, which we no longer do, we use our GPS, but it’s to know what’s in that territory to understand it before we’re traveling there.

And so in a similar way, God has designed our brains to make or create cognitive maps of our spouse or that one in our life that we’re attached to or most love in this life aside from God, is there is a place in your brain that stores information about your spouse. And so this information can be of various types, but let me give you an example. One, so in my relationship, I know up here cognitively, that Ang likes to go on walks.

That is something that I know, but, you know, for many years, that’s not something I really appreciated doing was going on walks. But the knowing of that, that she enjoys going on walks leads to, right, me connecting to her in that way. Cuz I understand her she’s an importance to me. And so therefore I go on walks.

Right. And so, and it’s true in Scripture, if you think about it too. When we memorize Scripture, when we commit it to memory, it provides opportunity for the Holy Spirit to bring that Scripture to mind. And then when we experience it, and I think the same is true in our marriage relationship is that when we know cognitively, our spouse.

We know about them. It provides opportunity to experience them or experience life with them in a much more deep and meaningful way. So what are the different areas to know? So certainly we could, there’s many different areas that we could seek to know and understand about our spouse. Here’s a few.

So if we look through this list, spiritually. In each of these, we just we’ve given example questions that can lead into knowing and seeking to understand your spouse. So spiritually, tell me about your relationship with God. How is it going? What has He been speaking to you lately?

So it can be in the spiritual realm. It can be in events that are coming up or events that previously happened that were special. Events that were tough events that were challenging events, worries, or stresses that we have in our life. Relationships, hopes for the future, hopes for our children, hope for our grandchildren, and then our favorites, what we enjoy.

And even as we go through this list fairly quickly, one of the things to keep in mind is in our marriage relationship, oftentimes, we spend quite a bit of time early on in relationship, just getting to know each other, getting to know favorites, hopes for the future, dreams., but over time, what can happen is we can just make the assumption that we know our spouse. But the reality is just like we drive to new territories on the map. Okay. We’re exposed to new perspectives. We’re exposed to new land sites and places to visit.The same is true in our marriage relationship. And so what I mean by that is, I’ll use a personal example. Ang and I are now we have, our oldest is a teenager now.

And so we’re in a new territory of parenting. And really, we’ve never as a couple experienced parenting a teenage daughter before. And so the newness of that, right, brings out information that I can seek to know and understand about my wife and likewise with your spouse. And so these are maps that aren’t just like we know them and then we stop learning.

It’s a continual updating throughout life. And so what we’d like to do here, Is we wanna take five minutes. Okay. And we wanna give you the opportunity to actually engage this here and now. And so what we’d like you to do is we want you to take first the worries and stress, these questions right here.

And what I wanna encourage you to do is each of you get a chance to ask the question, okay. And the questioner is the listener. So the one who asked the question, what are your current stressors? What I wanna encourage you to focus on is being in tune with your spouse. And so meaning not holding onto the cell phone, eye contact, focusing on them and then reflecting even what you hear.

If there’s current stressors, if there’s struggles. That you can reflect that back to them. And then I want you to switch in other words, switch so that the one that’s being questioned becomes the questioner. And the one that was questioning becomes the one to ask the question. And so we’re gonna take five minutes here.

And the other thing that I would like you to do is as you listen, true listening and attunement, I think, is about being willing to be changed by what you hear, right. It is tuning in to your spouse. And so that I’m willing to be changed. My perspective is willing to be changed by what they share. And that takes me to be really present in tune.

So we’re gonna give you five minutes and then we’re gonna ask you to respond just what this experience was like for you during this. So let’s take five minutes here. I’m gonna start some music and I’ll let you as couples, just take a chance and an opportunity, to ask each other this question. Okay.

Hopefully both of you had a chance to experience just what it was like to have your spouse be in tune and listen to you. So what we’d like to do now is just briefly, if you could, under the chat section, we’d like you to chat one word of what it was like for you to experience your spouse, being in tune, listening, reflecting to you.

So one word of what that experience was like. We got a great, anybody else have any experience there where they to share with your spouse? Very real. I like that word. Yeah. Interesting. Interesting. Unfortunately. Yeah. Surprised. Yep. Connected. Yeah. Yeah. Unfortunately, if your spouse is not present it’s a little bit hard to do that activity, but hopefully some of you are able to enjoy a little bit of time to connect with your spouse.

And this will tie in a little bit with your homework too, that we have at the end where we’re gonna ask you to dig deeper with that a little bit. But why don’t we go ahead and move on, Kaleb, to the next section there. All right. Very good. So the next one is about emotional connection.

So. every, if you think about it throughout the day, every day, actually many times a day, we are always making bids for attention or affection of our spouse. Wanting to connect to them in different ways, multiple times a day. And the reality is it’s these small moments that we turn towards our spouse that are like, think of it like small trust tests.

Okay. So when we turn out and we reach out to our spouse by verbally or nonverbally, it’s really are, we’re asking them, are you there? Will you be there for me if I reach out to you? Okay, and we do that in many different ways, but the reality is that romance is built in those small moments. Our life is built in those small moments.

There’s actually a quote today from my little flip piece here that says the greatest treasures in marriage are discovered through time and commitment, prayer and labor, companionship, and personal faith. It’s the quote, unquote, stuff of life, the routines, ordinary days, surprises, setbacks, and the ah’s that help us discover the priceless treasures of love.

How could we ever find the brilliant gems of trust, faithfulness, loyalty, devotion, and honor, without them? It’s through those small moments that we’re conveying our trust. And so just a quick study here that I was gonna share with you. This is on newlyweds, okay, that a researcher did, and couples responding to bids on average, 86% of the time were still married after six years. Compare it to, and contrast this with couples responding to bids on average of 33% of the time, they were divorced in six years.

Okay. So what are these bids? First they can come in verbal forms. Okay. For example, while you’re up, could you grab me the ketchup, please, reaching out, wanting a response, right, having a need requesting that need. It can be in a place that I just notice my spouse. Wow. You sure look amazing in that outfit.

Okay. I’m reaching out to them. I see them. So, again, I notice them and they’re seen by me and I respond to that and that’s a connection, right? Little connection, or man, I blew the presentation today, or I really had a rough day today. And again, it’s a reaching out of sharing. Sometimes that means distress or stress or anxiety or sadness, right, that we are reaching out verbally, wanting to our spouse to respond. But this can also come in forms of nonverbal cues. So it can be a hand on the back. It can be reaching out for holding hands. It can be, you know, a back rub. It can be through facial expressions, right? Winks, smiles, you know, as I share this one, an experience stands out to me.

I gave a fuller talk of this at the, Cultivating Connections Conference, and I remember a couple that had been married over 50 years, and I was talking about the facial expressions and just how couples, when they’ve been together a while, they have certain quirks that they can make expressions and they know exactly what the other spouse is thinking and they can laugh together about it. And this couple in the front row, they just started bursting out into laughter. They couldn’t contain the themselves. They knew exactly what that meant, and that was their connection that nobody else in the room knew they had no clue what was going on, but they were connected in that moment around an experience actually, multitude of experiences, right, over the years, that meant something to them.

So nonverbal things that mean something, just to the two of you and then kind gestures, opening the door things like that. So these are all ways practical ways, again, that we’re building trust. They’re trust tests. I’m gonna reach out, will you respond to me? Right. And that’s what we’re asking our spouse to do.

Okay. So this is what we’d like you, there’s a video we’re gonna play. Okay. When we think about connections and we think about responding to connections, One of the important piece is empathy and responding with empathy. So it’s one thing to reach out for my spouse. It’s another thing for me to have empathy for my spouse.

And so this video that we’re gonna show, is on empathy. Brene Brown actually done quite a bit of research around the area of shame and vulnerability. And so in this video, you’re gonna see,. I think it is four different aspects of what empathy is. Okay. She defines it early on. And so I want you to watch for that.

The second thing I want you to watch for is there are a couple different characters. Okay. The first character is this Fox character. This fox character is in distress, right? Wanting to reach out. And two other characters show up. One of them is a deer and another one is a bear. What I’d like you to do is I want you to just take some time and notice what it’s like, if you were the fox.

Okay. And, the deer responded to you. What do you notice? What was it like to you? Right. What sort of thoughts came to mind? Feelings. And then what about when the bear comes? What do you notice? So we’ll take some time share this video with you, and I’d encourage you to jot down your experiences as you watch this. We won’t have time to really process through it here, but it’d be a good thing to talk through with your spouse at some later point.

So, what is empathy and why is it very different than sympathy? Empathy fuels connection, sympathy drives disconnection. Empathy, it’s very interesting. Therea Wiseman is a nursing scholar who studied professions, very diverse professions where empathy is relevant and came up with four qualities of empathy: perspective taking, the ability to take the perspective of another person or recognize their perspective is their truth, staying out of judgment, not easy when you enjoy it as much as most of us do, recognizing emotion in other people, and then communicating that. Empathy is feeling with people. And to me, I always think of empathy as this kind of sacred space when someone’s kind of in a deep hole and they shout up from the bottom and they say, I’m stuck, it’s dark, I’m overwhelmed. And then we look and we say, Hey, I’m down. I know what it’s like down here. And you’re not alone. Sympathy is, Ooh, it’s bad, Uh huh. No, you want a sandwich? Empathy is a choice and it’s a vulnerable choice because in order to connect with you, I have to connect with something in myself that knows that feeling. Rarely, if ever, does an empathic response begin with; at least.

I had a, yeah. And we do it all the time because you know what? Someone just shared something with us that’s incredibly painful and we’re trying to silver lining it. I don’t think that’s a verb, but I’m using it as one. We’re trying to put the silver lining around it. So I had a miscarriage. At least, you know, you can get pregnant.

I think my marriage is falling apart. At least you have a marriage.

John’s getting kicked out of school. At least Sarah is an A student. But one of the things we do sometimes in the face of very difficult conversations is we try to make things better. If I share something with you that’s very difficult, I’d rather you say, I don’t even know what to say right now. I’m just so glad you told me, because the truth is, rarely can a response make something better. What makes something better is connection.

Okay. So, again, there were two characters and the first was the deer and one of the things is related to empathy as we both experience it, but also try to give it. She spoke about something there. And so one other thing, one of the realities, I think for each of us is what, I guess what I’d ask you to reflect on what makes it easy to be the deer, right, in this scenario.

And often when someone close to us, the spouse is struggling. It means to enter into their struggle, right. It’s much easier for us to say, you know what, that’s fairly uncomfortable. It’s really disrupts my internal process to jump into that distress, right. And so we think about the deer that actually comes with fairly easy to us as individuals, but the bear was about joining and notice what she said in that video that I would rather you not say anything or at least just, let me know that I don’t know even what to say. Right. That’s so hard. That’s so difficult that you’re joining is about connection more than about what we say. Oftentimes, when we seek to connect with our spouse, we say too much, right.

Because really it’s about being with and being present. And so I wanna leave a question with you just to think about. How willing, because this video really calls us in and the idea of connection, emotional connection means that I need to move into places that I’m really uncomfortable with. Right. The bear had to connect with the feeling that the fox was having inside himself or herself and so it invites us into that connection. So how willing are we to set in that connection with our spouse?

You know, that’s a great point, Kaleb, and I wanna just jump in here. There’s a couple of questions that were submitted when individuals registered for the webinar. And one of ’em kind of danced around this very topic, this very idea. It was something to the effect that you see on the screen in front of you.

What does it look like to help your spouse feel understood without necessarily fixing the issue? Is that what you’re kind of getting at here with this video and this idea of sitting with your spouse? Can you speak to that a little bit? Yeah. Yeah. Good question. It is, I think oftentimes, Arlan, we move too quickly into trying to fix, trying to change, trying to resolve before our spouse feels understood. And thinking in your own life, like when we don’t feel understood, we are searching and we do that in many different ways. To be seen to be understood sometimes not helpful ways.

Right. And so when it comes to understanding and think about it when you’ve been fully understood the emotional climate within your own body and mind and process, just kind of you start to relax because you’re like, yes, that individual gets me. Right. They understand me. And so I think you know, again, what does it look like to help your spouse feel understood? I think it’s being in tune. It’s not about saying the right words. It’s just being present with and seeking to validate the struggle or the joy or, you know, whatever they’re walking through. So that listening piece must be a really huge component, right, where you can listen well, you can listen without fixing or talking or trying to jump to a solution like the deer seemed to be doing a decent amount, where we’re trying to minimize. I think maybe that’s another trap that at least I fall into where I try to take and try to stuff, you know, what is an issue into kind of a little box and say, oh, that’s not that big of a deal without truly understanding, I think. There’s another question that came up that I think factors in here and would you pop it up there. How do we navigate male female differences as well as just some general personality differences when trying to connect? I think that comes up quite a bit as well, where, I mean, we are not the same people as spouses.

So we, you navigate, you know, maybe someone as an out loud processor, maybe someone is an internal processor. You have male, female dynamics that go on there. You know, several different things that are necessary to navigate. Any general thoughts or tips to kinda speak to? As, they’re some in the audience I know that are wrestling through this kind of question as well.

Yep. Well, it is challenging, right? Because just the reality that we approach whether it be gender differences, whether it be personality differences, approaching this idea of emotional connection from a different place. And so, I would say there’s a couple things here, Arlan. The first is keeping in mind.

I feel like while there’s differences and I’ll get to a couple of differences here, there’s also a truth in reality, that for each of us, there is a desire just for that emotional connection, right, to be heard, to be understood, to be valued, to be responded to. And I think, while there are differences, there are a lot of similarities as well.

Right. As we think about that. And so I just place that in, you know, in the question. So, I think when it comes to personality difference again, or gender differences, there are a number of generalizations that we use. But they aren’t always true. Okay. So for example, one is oftentimes females appreciate both communicating in and receiving emotionally rich information.

Okay. That’s the way they process. And also they’re very, their brains are wired to have, when it comes to relationally, a lot of things going on. They can multitask when it comes to relationships, whereas male individuals can’t. They can multitask when it comes to, you know, task oriented things, when it comes to relationships. That really challenges them.

And for males, when it comes to emotionally rich information, oftentimes that can shut them down. Right. Not always, but, that can lead to them, kind of, you know, being overwhelmed more quickly than females. And so I think with that, Arlan, what you have is, both females understanding that sometimes, as they come to share, that their husband can flood out easily or be overwhelmed easily. Not because they’re, they don’t want to listen or don’t want to be present or don’t want to hear them, but they just get flooded out and then they start shutting down and for males to understand, you know what, they don’t necessarily like these emotions all the time more than they do.

And they’re not trying to be, you know, this way. There’s certain processes that they go through that they don’t just, you know, really enjoy this and being in this place that these emotions come out. But that’s part of the way God has designed them. And so to be patient with that. Yeah. You know, the other piece I’m hearing is, you kind of speak to this, is this doesn’t happen like that, right, it doesn’t happen overnight. There is a time component of number one, just prioritizing and taking time to listen and talk and understand is, I mean, maybe that is if scheduling things and working your schedule in your favor to make sure those opportunities happen. I appreciate your story about the couple.

I remember that couple from that marriage conference had been married for multiple years. That didn’t happen overnight, right? I mean, that was 50 years of history. Then I’m guessing, probably started with very small moments, those small bits, yeah, that were received. And over a time, again, it kind of builds that mountain of relationship that’s really a beautiful picture to think about.

Yeah. And that’s encouraging. I guess, to me to realize it’s small steps can lead there and it isn’t a, it doesn’t have to be a herculean effort. It’s small steps of listening and taking time and sitting with my spouse. Yeah. That’s many distractions so let’s ,yeah, let’s keep going.

And just to comment to those, if you have questions you wanna chat into please do that at any time .You can send ’em directly just to the private to us, or you can send ’em to the group and I’ll be looking for those. And we’ll have some Q and A time coming up here in a little bit. Okay. So let’s, let’s jump into thinking of empathy.

Certainly the, we have many examples in the Gospels of empathy. And so let’s just consider this one passage together in Luke 13. As Jesus really shows us, displays for us empathy in its truest and fullest sense. So I’m just gonna read this together. It starts here in verse 10. It says, and he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. So, I’m gonna pause. So just get the picture. Okay. Just imagine Jesus standing. And there’s this crowd around him. It’s a Sabbath day. He’s in the synagogue. All eyes are fastened on Jesus. Okay. And, so he’s up, he’s standing, he’s speaking, and people are listening.

And in comes this woman, which had a spirit of infirmity 18 years and was bowed together or her body, right, as it says there, and could in no wise lift herself. So the visual picture is a woman who was bent over. Even as you think about that, her physical form spoke of the shame and the scorn that she experienced in her heart ,right, for many years. And in comes this woman walking as Jesus is teaching. And when Jesus saw her, he called to her or he called her to him and said unto her, woman thou art loosed from thine infirmity. And he laid his hands on her and immediately she was made straight and glorified God. In the midst of him speaking to this crowd, here was an unseen woman who had suffered shame and scorn as a result of individuals who likely were separating for their own, seeking their own righteousness, right, trying to hold onto their own righteousness were separating themselves from this woman. And here she was experiencing not just the physical ailment, but I think much more the emotional experience of separation. Right? Lack of connection, lack of being seen in that situation. And .Jesus, in the midst of this crowd, he turns toward her and he reaches out, right. He saw her. The first thing is he saw her. That means he had to stop what he was doing and he fastened his eyes on her and he called her to him. And so here’s a beautiful picture of when we talk about bids of Jesus reaching out. And my guess is her heart was already healing before the spiritual even as she was noticed by him. Because as we think about our relationship with Christ, it is a beautiful thing to be fully loved and fully known. And think about that for a second, that this individual experienced being known deeply by her Savior and loved, deeply. And really isn’t that, as we think about our marriage relationship, what we want to emulate is, being fully known and fully loved.

And what would it be like to have just one of those without the other? Like if we were fully known, but not fully loved, we would be stuck in shame, and hopeless, and desperate for connection or what would it be like to be fully loved and yet not known? And, I think of that and be like, you don’t really know me. How can you love me if you don’t know me? Right. Maybe when I reveal those parts of me, that I’m not so, that I don’t like so much. Will you still love, right? But Jesus calls us into fully knowing and fully loved. And that’s a beautiful picture that I think Jesus really walks through right here.

Okay. So couple more slides here before we transition. So one is to keep in mind that deepening connection that there is a hierarchy, if you will, to deeper connection. Okay. So it goes like this, as you look at this triangle, at the base, there’s simple requests. Okay. So these are, would you run an errand for me?

Right. Just simple every day. Would you pass the ketchup? Right. Simple requests. And, as it moves up, the requests become more and more vulnerable. All right. Sharing events of the day, sharing what happened during the day, experiencing humor and laughter together, having intimate conversation, sharing my fears, my hopes, my dreams.

And so here’s the thing. Okay. As you think about this, and we talked about building connections, small acts of trust. When I reach out and my spouse responds to me, That’s a connection. And here’s the idea. If my spouse doesn’t, isn’t responsive to me, when it comes to simple requests, then it’s gonna be very difficult for me to take a risk in moving up that ladder.

Right. Because it takes vulnerability, the further up this ladder, we move. Okay. By the way, when I say I put sex at the top, okay, that is a mutual, engaging, biblical sex. Right? Certainly you can have sex that isn’t, vulnerable in the sense that we are mutually engaged in this and fully known.

Okay, I’m not talking about that kind of sex. And so this is about, it’s about, as we think about bringing our full selves. It means taking risks. And when we’re not responding to our spouse or our spouse isn’t responding to us it’s more difficult, right, to move up this ladder. And so a good place to start is, where am I at?

And how can I start building in small ways to move up this ladder to deepen our connection? Okay. The next part is just to keep in mind, that there’s a process of deepening connection, okay that happens over time. So we talked about this idea of turning in. Okay. It starts with turning in. So that means turning towards my spouse when they reach out, right.

They express a bid in some form or fashion verbally or non-verbally then I connect with them. But the reality is in life, in our own brokenness in a fallen world, that we miss it sometimes. We miss the cues, right, of our spouse making a bid to us. We, they miss our cues. And so we missread them. It leads to disconnection, which is a painful thing, right, to reach out and not to experience empathy, not to experience connection, not to be seen or valued. But, we all experience it. It’s this disconnection that happens. And in that disconnection there’s stories that we can begin to tell ourselves. We can tell ourselves about ourselves, right. We can tell ourselves about a relationship.

It could be negative. All right. But deepening connection actually leads to this term called repairing. Okay. So the reality is disconnection happens in all our relationships. But it can become a maintaining state, meaning just, I try to manage my, the distress of being disconnected, and build stories upon stories rather than repairing. But as we move through disconnection into repairing, it actually leads to a deeper connection. Cuz this is what happens when you think about it. When you’ve had a repair, a repair means we’ve had a disconnection, we missed each other. Right. I missed a bid and a repair means I come back to my spouse and I acknowledge, you know what, I’m sorry, I missed it.

You know, please forgive me. Or let’s, you know what? Let’s sit down and talk about what happened last night. You know what, neither of us felt understood and what happens there is you’re changing. You’re having an emotional, let’s call it an emotional change experience. And through that repair, you are coming back and you challenge the negative stories that like to feed in disconnection.

And so it can lead to a deeper connection in your marriage relationship. And so the reality is that deeper connections actually lead through repairing disconnections. Okay. It happens, repairing disconnections is the key to deepening our connection. So what you’re saying, Kaleb, if I’m catching that, right, is that, is that failure properly responded to, can lead towards a greater connection?

I mean, we can learn from our failures. There’s hope.When, you know, from the mistakes that we make, if we turn towards our spouse in an attempt to deepen our connection. Yes. It’s like, I’ll use an analogy. So if you’ve ever been at a restaurant, Arlan, where the waiter or waitress, they take your order but they don’t have a notepad to write it down. What they find is that, you know, whatever you order is running through their mind. Okay. And it runs through their mind until they give it to the chef or whoever. And then it’s gone. The same is true about us in our relationships. Is that when there’s a disconnection, guess what’s running in our mind.

Oh, the disconnection. Yeah. Yes. Until we repair and we’re able to drop it and we’re able to move on be, and it leads to a deeper connection. Yeah.

So, great thought to kind of bring into that and, just a few more questions that came up again in the registration we wanna walk through, which I think really hit some of the themes. But then, after we walk through a few of these questions, too, if there’s others, you have, you can chat ’em in or we’ll, turn on your mic and even ask it if you want to. Kaleb, real practically speaking, what are some observable signs that you see that help know that you’ve connected with your spouse or that, you know, on the other side that maybe your spouse needs more emotional connection. Are there, you know, what kind of things should, Mr. Clueless here be, you know, looking for, you know, to properly connect here. Yeah. A good question.

So I guess a couple thoughts come to mind with that. First is I would encourage you to ask. I think it’s a good question. Like for example, a scaling question to ask your spouse, how emotionally connected do you feel to me right now on a scale from 1 to 10, if 10 being, you know, what the most connected we could be, one being, not at all.

Where would you say that we’re at? And based on that, how, what would be one step in a positive direction. And, what does that look like for you? Because it does vary a little bit based on individual individuals, but also life stages as this next one, gets into. But, in general, this is what I would say, Arlan, when we are disconnected.

It’s painful and we deal with that painfulness in different ways. Sometimes we’re verbally more critical. Okay. And so we can be critical. And sometimes underneath that critical spirit is someone who doesn’t feel valued and seen. Sure, sure. Okay. Cuz oftentimes when we see and we validate the emotion, there is a, there’s like a, it’s like a sigh.

Yeah. You know, relaxing and that’s what happens, I think, with emotional connection. And I can imagine too, you probably have the silence too. I mean, that would be an obvious one. If the spouse is kind of withdrawn and silent, that’s a cue that something is not going well, especially if normally they are, you know, more expressive, more engaging.

But, I like what you said there, it can be just the, sometimes the more aggressive behavior, so to speak, can be assigned as something under the, that the connection’s not happening there. The safety is not there. So this, so that next question kind of speaks to it. We alluded to it, but, several questions came up kind of about time of life, right?

So you know, everything from a newly wed, newly married type situation to the stress of the child raising years or just stressful times in general, to someone ask, you know, what I call the golden years, you know, you’ve been married for a long time and maybe it’s become almost, take for granted type situation, you know. Any general counsel that you could make, you know, time that as you think about these different stages of life or, how do we, what do we consider, as we look at this one.

Yep. So I guess a couple thoughts. One is, the way we connect changes over time. I think that this certainly speaks to that. Okay. So as we think about being newly married, oftentimes this isn’t always true, so I’m, using generalizations here. But oftentimes when individuals are newly married, it is a time of curiosity, exploration, excitement that comes with newness oftentimes, right, early on, we often refer to infatuation, right. So, it can be actually a wonderful time of bonding and connecting and, my encouragement through that is to build upon that. And sometimes it can be a busy time. You know, too, depending on what’s going on in the newly married life, if there’s school.

So depending on what’s going on, I think they still need to commit to it. But I think because. oftentimes the experience is more, fulfilling if you, maybe that’s not the right word. It, there is that early kind of excitement with it that comes with being newly married. Okay. But you still need to prioritize connection time. When it comes to child raising years and stressful times, there is, it’s just a time of exhaustion, perseverance. Yeah. So I think our expectations shift and that’s what is often hard for couples is, here we were didn’t have kids now we have kids. And not only are we physically exhausted depending on where they’re at. I think they go through phases that it’s more emotionally exhausting than it is physically.

So that varies, but, I think as couples, it looks quite a bit different and I guess, I think in our own lives, and sometimes we are, we’re just tired and it’s not all that exciting, but we’re just together. And so I think, with that, Arlan, I guess one of the things I think about is we need to lower expectations, but also continue to prioritize the need for date nights.

The need. And maybe it’s just setting aside time, the kids, you know, do their own thing. And this is mommy and daddy’s in the next room, but that you’re speaking into, prioritizing that time that you’re both present. But I think realizing sometimes one or the other is gonna be like, man, I’m just spent.

And that could be part of it. The golden years, I think sometimes later in life, there are a number of losses that come. And so that’s what stands out to me is if you think about early in life, where we’re, you know, Lord willing, having a family and our kids are getting married, all these gains, if you will.

Okay. As you move on to life, there’s still gain. But certainly that begins to shift as well, your social group and those that you, you know, looked up to there’s. And so I think, it is again, a different type of connection, but very rich in the sense that I can share that, that grief and that loss, that sadness, but also hopes for our grandkids and our, you know, that sort of thing.

So, that’s a quick, it sounds like. Yeah. And, it sounds like there’s a lot of, there’s some common themes there, right? The idea of being intentional, the idea of starting with small steps, the idea of, of communicating at least enough with just that basic question, you know, how emotionally connected do you feel right now?

Communicating just enough to know if we need to get intentional about scheduling some time to talk or, you know, that kind of a thing. What if, one spouse is not interested at all? Not on the same page, spiritually, not on the same page with, what the subject matter is, just almost resistant to the idea.

Any quick counsel you have? I know that could be a whole other talk. But I’d like to wrap up a couple of points here in the next few minutes, but any points to that? You know, if one spouse is just not engaged. Yep. So, I guess it depends on why they’re not engaged, Arlan. That’s what I, so if, because, sometimes disengagement comes from fears, it comes from disconnection.

It comes from not feeling understood or, it may come from just an apathy. Right? And so I think it can depend on those scenarios, how to respond, to the situation. But in general, I think, one, you can’t force somebody into being emotionally connected, right? We talk oftentimes in relationships of what’s called a pursuer.

Yeah. And. Okay. Pursuer is one that wants to, they drive connection by pursuing and oftentimes verbally pursuing, right? Communicating. I need you, you know, you’re not there. And the distancer or withdrawer tends to pull back because they’re overwhelmed. And so in this scenario, right, it’s the withdrawer..

What can happen is the pursuer by pursuing them more, can actually lead to more distance. Okay. And so I think give space, what’s that? Give space potentially at times to, yeah. Potentially that is, can be a helpful thing. It seems contrary, but what can happen is, that space gives them opportunity and chance, right, to process, and gives them chance to kind of come back, right, and to communicate. But I think the other thing is if a spouse isn’t responsive, I think, having rich relationships, not to replace the marriage relationship, that’s not what I’m communicating, but, and not to talk bad about your spouse, but a way to be able to process negative emotions that I’m having in a healthy way can be, a helpful thing.

Sure. Why don’t you connect? Go to the next slide, if you would, Kaleb, we have, we’re right at 8:30. I want to be mindful of time. Just a couple of other comments here. One question came up, a great question. How can the lack of the emotional connection in childhood affect our ability to connect emotionally as an adult?

And that could be a whole topic again in itself. I will say we do have a talk that was done at the marriage conference on attachment styles. And if you go to our website and search attachment styles, you’ll get into the beginning stages of this. And there’s some references that can go further. But great topic there that can have a huge impact. We are shaped by our experiences, for sure. Another person chatted in a question talking about just this disconnections and how to review disconnections and thinking about disconnections even further. In my mind, I don’t know where your mind went to, but my mind goes to the restoration attempts article, which you just put out on the website. Again, if you go to the website and search restoration attempts, marriage, where you speak a little bit to that, the idea of how do you make, what do attempts to restore connections look like? And, how do you get intentional about doing that? Any other quick thoughts on those? Or you can pop up the last question there too. Just for us to kind of consider. I would say if I can, Arlan, I would speak to this one. It is a great question about the childhood and, it does impact and, How We Love is a good resource for that.

It’s a book that talks about this, but in essence, if you think about it intellectually, we go to school. Okay. And we learn things and we build these skills upon another. And if emotionally, in our childhood, we didn’t develop language for emotion and what these feelings are inside my body, right, that are going on and learn ways to soothe them healthy, in a healthy way, it does impact when those emotions come up in my relationship, because I use the coping patterns that I learned from my growing up years. Okay. And so that comes out in the relationship. So, it has a pretty significant impact on the marriage relationship. Yeah. I mean, one of the things that I’ve been told and I really have appreciated this counsel, is just to help my kids.

As I see, as I raise my kids, to help them learn, to identify emotions and just talk through emotions is a very important task. We do it every night at dinner. We just kind of say, what’s your high of the day? What’s your low of the day? Let’s talk it through. That’s my hope is that as they can identify themselves and their emotions better, that’s gonna help with some of that connection.

The last question here, and then we’ll open it up to anybody else, but just this great question. How does a husband navigate shame that they may feel because they’ve been wanting to pursue their wife emotionally. They have a desire to do that, but they haven’t, or they haven’t done as well as they think they should.

Any thoughts on that? Maybe that’s too hard to answer in 30 seconds, but, any thoughts on that? Well, first I think just by the question itself, this individual understands primary emotions of shame. And what I would also say is fear. Okay. Oftentimes we speak in secondary emotions or like, frustration irritation when really it’s this underneath kind of shame and failure. And so it is a great question and it’s challenging and hard. And one of the things that I would say with this is often, like the empathy video, that it would speak is I’m hearing the perceived failure as fear. And so one of the things that can be helpful, assuming we’ve developed this hierarchy back to that triangle, right, of building connection on the lower level, this is an intimate conversation right here. Okay. So assuming my relationship is that level, I would encourage this husband, this individual to begin to share those fears with their spouse. Like, I’m terrified. If I begin to open up, right, about this emotionally, that somehow I’m gonna fail that I’m gonna miss you, that I’m gonna, you know, that, that I’m starting to share in that shame piece, that I’m starting to communicate that with my spouse.

And oftentimes what I find is, and this is a husband navigating, so this is a global statement, but generally true. Women understand the power of vulnerability. Men struggle to understand how being vulnerable, opening up, expressing myself is actually takes a lot of courage. Okay. Sure. So women understand that when men are vulnerable with them, generally, it can be a way to connect through them.

Okay. So let’s do this, and for the sake of time, if you there’s a couple of assignments or homework that we wanted to leave you with. And if you just wanna go to that next slide and talk that through in just in just two minutes, and then we will open it up for questions. But I know we’re a little bit past time.

So if people wanna sound off, they can go ahead and talk through what you would be, good, healthy homework. So what we would encourage you to do, you’ll have, we’re actually gonna send out, I think, is that right, Arlan, a PDF of this? And so you’ll go into your email soon. Okay. So you’ll have these connection questions.

What we’d encourage you do is take 10 to 15 minutes. Sit down together as a couple and focus on what I would say, attunement and reflection. And, being curious about, right, your spouse and walking through these, asking open-ended questions. Tell me more about that. Help me understand that and walk through, you know, picking out a number of these and just practice and experience no distractions, but just being with each other and being in tune, with each other. And so we’d encourage you within the next two weeks spending, you know, 15 to 20 minutes walking through these questions together. The second thing I would encourage you to do, and this is related to connection is, a practical thing is it can start tomorrow is attachment and connection starts. If you think about it, partying in the morning and reunion in the evening. And so before you leave for the day, seek to learn one thing about your spouse’s day, maybe it’s an event coming up, maybe it’s, you know, whatever it is.

And then when you on reunion, spend five to 10 seconds hugging your spouse. Not just embrace and leave, but you’re actually embracing each other, because touch has shown to be very positive for the brain and nurturing connection. Right? And then following up on that one thing that you learned before you part it for the day, That seems very doable.

That doesn’t seem too hard. Right? So learn one thing and then hug when you come back together and talk about it. Those small moments begin to build that. And as you said, Kaleb, I do, you will be getting an email in a few minutes with all of the slides that we went through and you’ll have these questions and this homework at the tail end of that, that you can kind of walk through.

And, remind it, and if this recording worked well, we hope to post that and I’ll send an email out with that as well in the next day or so once we get the recording processed. So, thank you first off for being with us.


Building Emotional Connection in Marriage

How is the emotional climate of your marriage? How do you build safety and connection within your marriage? In this webinar, Kaleb Beyer looks at these questions and important aspects of deepening your emotional connection with your spouse.

Handouts:

Building Emotional Connection PPT

Empathy/Sympathy video