Level Three Communcication: Sharing Your Own Ideas

There are many ways that couples communicate with one another. Some are positive while others are negative. Even among positive forms of communication there are various methods that achieve different results. Marriage experts have identified five progressive levels of marital communication. [See introductory article.] Each successive level leads to deeper intimacy and closeness which results in a stronger relationship. This article describes the third level of communication in marriage: sharing your own ideas.

In level one, communication involves sharing mere facts and information. This is similar to a discussion one may have with a coworker or store clerk. [See related article]. In level two, communication enters a more abstract, intellectual, and mentally stimulating form involving sharing ideas of others in conversation. There is a definite progression as the second level involves ideas rather than facts. This begins to move into the area of one’s interests and topics perceived to be important. [See related article.]

Level three takes matters a step further yet. Similar to level two, the third level involves discussing ideas. Only in this level the ideas are your own instead of those of others. Obviously, this is more intimate and personal as you share your own thoughts, opinions, beliefs, and views regarding matters of significance to you. This comes easier for some than it does to others. In fact, many find the prospect of sharing their own ideas to be quite intimidating.

As each successive level becomes more personal the level of vulnerability also increases. There is a greater degree of risk involved. While the potential for bonding and intimacy dramatically increases, so does the potential for feeling awkward, unaccepted, invalidated, and so forth.

The key to successful and meaningful communication at the higher levels involves two things. First, it involves taking the risk of opening up and sharing. Second, it involves active listening with positive regard and acceptance when your mate is the one sharing. With respect to level three, freely expressing your thoughts and ideas and allowing your spouse to do the same significantly enhances intimacy. However, disagreement and debate harms intimacy because it causes one or both partners to feel emotionally unsafe. If you and your spouse do not feel emotionally safe in sharing your own ideas with one another it will not be possible to move forward into deeper levels of intimate communication.

Articles in this series:

Levels of Communication (Introduction)
Level One: Facts and Information
Level Two: Ideas of Others
Level Three: Your Own Ideas
Level Four: Personal Information
Level Five: Emotions and Needs
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