If I wanted your Opinion, I’d Ask! (Intimacy Level #3)

The fact is you should ask and cherish the opinion of your spouse. It’s crucial if you want to reach intimacy level #3. According to Matthew Kelly’s Seven Levels of Intimacy, it’s also the first obstacle couple’s encounter in their quest for an intimate relationship.

What we experience, read, the type of education we receive shape our opinions in drastic ways. In contrast, our opinions are by no means stagnant. They change over time. What we must also keep in mind is that our spouse has lived a totally different live, and therefore will have a totally different opinion on certain things and they will also change.

You may ask how can these opinions affect our relationship.

By not respecting the fact that your partner may have a difference of opinion. We spend most of our energy trying to defend and convince the other that our opinion is the right one. In order to maintain superiority over our opinion we do one of two things. We either argue our point to the cows come home or we defuse the situation by using jokes, changing the subject or diversion to keep us from possibly changing our opinion and losing what we feel is a position of authority.  Either way, this type of relationship over time takes its toll and you eventually drown and revert back to a relationship of clichés and facts.


STRIVERS! Do you want to drown, in boring clichés or facts or would you prefer to rise above the waves to this level of intimacy?

If you choose the latter, you must reconcile one of some of these issues below in your mind.

  1. All relationships have unresolvable issues. I am a relationship coach and even my PG and I have unresolvable issues. The unresolvable issues are due to the differing opinions and expectations of our lives. The same thing goes for you and your partner. So I ask you,”Would you rather be right, or just be?”
  2. Instead of creating gridlock of trying to be right, make a choice to develop a common goal and work together. Developing a couples’ mission statement in this stage is crucial because it brings clarity and a reference point to all conversations.
  3. Make the leap to accept your partner for who he/she is. Important in this step is accepting yourself for who you are. In my discussions with clients, I have seen them develop a real sense of resentment in their spouse because they reflect something they see in themselves they don’t like. Active listening to truly understand someone’s opinion, instead of jumping in to defend yours helps diminish the opportunity to judge and criticize our partner so they can feel accepted.
  4. Open your mind and heart. Some things in life can’t be explained. If you are one that has to understand and have an explanation for everything that happens in your life, it will leave you at a disadvantage to achieving true intimacy. By opening your mind and heart you remain open to new ideas and opinions. This doesn’t mean you suppress the one’s you have, you just allow yourself to accept and recognize your partner has his/her own.

So even if you don’t ask for your partner’s opinion, it’s vital that you hear it.  If true intimacy is what you seek.

Have a great day, STRIVERS.

Coach Keith

Nothing but the Facts, at least the Personal One’s (Intimacy Level #2)

I am writing this blog a little later than usual, so you might be entering the door after a long day at work. The only energy you may have is to talk about the weather, the job, sports, or the politics of the day. If that type of staccato language permeates your basic conversations with your spouse along with the good ‘ole cliché’, then you are slowly on your way to a yawner of a marriage.

All is not lost. In  Matthew Kelly’s book, The Seven Levels of Intimacy, interpersonal facts are important to help initialize conversation, but in order to create that necessary from bridge from the second to the third level of intimacy you must be able to shift from lower level interpersonal facts to higher lever interpersonal facts, those that are stimulating and lead to an increased level of learning, and finally to personal facts, those rare facts that you possess that help the other person become the best version of themselves.

What is the recipe for this type of intimate behavior with our spouse? Our speech. We have the opportunity to focus on being more positive than negative. And we can do that any number of ways.

  1. Acknowledge your partner for doing something good, or right.
  2. Don’t be so quick to judge one another. Judgement can cloud our inner and outer exchanges with our partners and kill the relationship. Practice the art of nonjudgement.
  3. Work on correcting, rather than criticizing.This can be very difficult depending on how your spouse views your words and tone of voice..you would want to acknowledge the effort of your partner before you correct.
  4. Reduce Gossip
  5. Find moments to voice your moments of appreciation. This will going a long way making your partner feel loved and valued.
  6. Look at how you filter your speech..If you say “whatever is on your mind” all the time.  In what other ways are you undisciplined?

I started this blog by acknowledging the fact that you may be tired due to your depleted energy, but did you ever think that you partner you are coming home to is lonely. Lonely by the mere interpersonal, mundane facts that you give day after day.

Today, do something different. Take your spouse by the hand sit across from them and tell them as many personal facts that you can think of in a couple of minutes..It will break the monotony and lead to the next level of intimacy you are longing for.

It is what is Is? Is this It? (Intimacy Level #1)

One major question I ask couples is, “how do you cultivate your marriage and spend time with each other? Mos of the time, I get,”Not much, we are just too busy. It is what it is!” I hear this new catchphrase, ‘It is what it is’ a lot. It explains everything that is boring or monotonous in our relationships. Cliché’s can be a way we initially start out a connection with our partners.  We don’t want to seem cold or unfeeling to our partner even if at the time we don’t really care.

As our relationship progresses, we don’t want to get stuck at this first intimate level. If overly used, clichés’ can kill any possibility of your marriage advancing to the next level because the relationship can’t go to the next level, because you keep your partner at arm’s length.

People use clichés because they don’t want to be judged or criticized for having a specific opinion, or are just so self-absorbed would rather not engaged in deep conversation because other viewpoints might affect their own worldview.

How do we overcome the Art of the Cliché in our own relationship? We must reclaim the goal of spending time together. I like to call it, relaxed engagement. Matthew Kelly in his book ‘The Seven Levels of Intimacy’ calls it carefree timelessness. It’s significant time, two to four hours that you spend with your spouse without an agenda. You may say to yourself, “I already spend time with my spouse.” That may be true, but is it the type of time that isn’t influenced by the sense of urgency and to-do lists. The time with our spouses is often spent after work, after the kids are in bed, and definitely when you’re not tired. This type of time will not get us beyond this first level of intimacy that we so desire and the love we would like to provide our spouse.

So what steps do we take to create this sort of relaxed engagement?

  1. Schedule it. Before the weekend is out, set up a day for the month of August and set a date. To carve out this amount of time together, will require you to take a day off from work, or if it’s on the weekend and you have kids, you will have to solicit help from your parents, friends, or a babysitter. Start small, maybe once a month and try to build up to as many days as your monthly schedule allows.
  2. Remove all distractions, no cell phones, I-Pads, anything. Communicate to children as well as the babysitters. Contact us for emergencies, only!
  3. Allow your time to be moved by the day, no agenda or expectations.
  4. Finally, let go of the cliché! Start the conversation with a thought-provoking question. You just might learn something new.

Marriage Music Monday presents..INTO ME SEE!

As an abstinent educator in for IMPACT Community Development Corporation, we covered a topic on intimacy. We used to asked the high school students what intimacy meant and 99% of them use to equate the definition with sex. What’s interesting to know is if I asked adults the same question,would I get the same answer/  It would probably be a little deeper, for instance I would probably hear intimacy is when there is sex between two people that have connected on a deeper level. love each other and are completely committed, but probably not more than that.

True intimacy involves being completely open and having the desire to understand the true nature of our partner on a wholistic level. But even in marriage we hide things, thoughts or actions from our spouses. Why, fear and rejection. Most of us, me included are in good marriages, but they could be great, more intimate.

According to Matthew Kelly’s 7 Levels of Intimacy (The Art of Being of Loving and the Joy of Being Loved, being intimate means sharing the secrets of our hearts, mind and souls with another fragile, imperfect human being. We have to allow another person to discover our inspiration, what drives us, bothers us, what we gravitate to, and what we run from and what inner demons reside in our hearts and what big dreams wake us up at night.

Now this level of intimacy doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a long, adventerous journey to reach this type of intimacy in marriage, or any relationship for that matter.

Intimacy begins as you begin to share your story with your partner;where you come from, what shaped your thoughts, what events shaped your choices. As the two of you come togther, you will begin to create your own story to share with others. The four different aspects of intimacy are physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual.

Physical Intimacy is easy to achieve and can be easily shattered by divorce.

Emotional intimacy is harder to achieve because it takes an amount of vulnerability and humbleness to achieve. Before that can happen we have to feel comfortable and safe enough to let our guard down.

Intellectual Intimacy is achieved when you  have different conversations around your political and cultural views. You must refrain from judgement since your partner unless you just happen to live in the same house has different ideas than you do, and look beyond the different ideas that are expressed and find its source.

Spritual Intimacy is rare and difficult to achieve. The goal to achieving this level is you have to develop a mutual purpose to help each other become the best version of themselves. The components you will need are a virtuous heart, an open mind and the ability to not have the relationship reach a point where you idolize the person more than the relationship itself.

As Eddie Kendriks put it in his song Intimate Friends, the goal if intimacy discover and rediscover each other every day.

Our love shines brigther, than the morning sun
Two hearts together becoming as one
You’re a part of me – that never dies
Love undivided, ’cause we see eye to eye

Over the course of this week, we will examine the 7 Levels of Intimacy that Matthew Kelly expresses in his book and how to achieve them with a Strive 2 Succeed in Marriage twist.

Have a great Monday.

Coach Keith

Marriage Music Monday – Exploring Intimacy

An excerpt  from Matthew Kelly’s – 7 Levels of Intimacy – The Art of Loving and the Joy of Being Loved.

David Anderson lived in Boston with his wife, Sarah and   hree children Rachel, Shannon, and Jonah. He was very successful  businessman, and one of the rewards of his success was their summer home on
Martha’s Vineyard. Sarah and the kids spent the whole summer there, while David  usually spent part of each weekend and always came for the first two weeks of July.

One summer a few years ago, he was driving out to the beach  at the beginning of July when he made a promise to himself. For two weeks, he  was going to be a loving and attentive husband and father. He would make  himself totally available. He would turn off his cell phone, resist the  temptation to be constantly checking his e-mail, and make himself completely  available to his family and a genuine experience vacation.

You see, David worked too much. He knew it. Everyone around  him knew it. When you love your work, that’s one of the dangers. When you rely  on your work too much for your identity, that’s one of the pitfalls. From time  to time, David felt guilty about how much he worked, but to brush the guilt  aside by making the excuse that it was necessary. Sometimes he overcame his  feeling of guilt by calling to mind the many privileges and opportunities that  his wife and children were able to enjoy became worked so hard.

Did rationalizations succeed? Only temporarily. But this  vacation was going to be different. David was going to be attentive and  available.

Is this you? Have you felt this about your spouse, or  children? Being present in your life? This sort of activity takes a higher  level of intimacy that only you can make.

As these lyrics suggest in Luther Vandross’s song “A House is  Not a Home.”

A room is a still a  room, even when there’s nothin’ there but gloom

But a room is not a house and a house is not a home

When the two of us are far apart

And one of us has a broken heart

We will be exploring the 7 levels of Intimacy over the next  several posts.

We could start by asking  the question, what does Intimacy mean to you?

Do you need a project done! Make sure you Speak the “Guy” Language!

I didn’t do a scientific study on this, but I know what would get me to respond. I am also sure there are other’s like me. You might be wondering what I am talking about? I am talking about wives’ wanting their husband to do projects that is long overdue.

Case in point..my wife, PG was telling me a story of a friend of hers that asked her husband to do a major “guy” project. Take care of the car maintenance. That project remains undone, and has no signs of being completed anytime soon. PG, nodded in agreement with her like she understood what she was talking about. Of course my forehead wrinkled up on that as I began to wonder what projects she was talking about.

I began to ponder when wives’ ask their husband to do a project that make take a little time and effort, why does it take forever to get it done? The reason, they don’t ask in “GUY” language.  You may ask, “What is guy language?”

Most men usually fall in three categories.  They either play or watch sports, play video games, watch action movies or some combination of the three. Why are men so fascinated with these things. Let’s look at the common denominator of these activities. There is a prize at the end. You win something. In sports, you win the championship; in video games, you kill the bad guys, get the most points; in action movies, you kill the bad guy and get THE GIRL.

You know when you have seen your husband in one of these scenarios, he is like a different person. Till this day, PG still doesn’t understand how my behavior transformed from a laid-back, happy guy, to the HULK while I was playing a friendly game of pickup basketball.

As men, we are wired as youth to compete, win at all costs no matter what it takes. We spend most of our childhoods racing the boys on the playground, playing football and competing with our boys trying to get her number. Everything is a competition. We love to win and be a winner. You will see the most mild-mannered man turn into a beast if you put a game in front of their face and start talking “smack.”

When it comes time to doing projects, you as our wife expect us to just do it because you asked us to. Because you know if it was the other way around, you would certainly do it.  Well as we know that doesn’t always work. You may say, he didn’t get away with that when lived with his parents. Of course not because we still believed it was a competition. We would either lose something; money, fringe benefits, or a sore behind. Either way we were losing.

So if you have a project you want your husband to do this weekend, try something new. Make it a competition.

  1.  First tell Husband, he is a winner, the franchise player, the go-to guy!
  2. Ask them the project you would like done this weekend.
  3.  Tease him with the reward he might win, or lose if he doesn’t do it. You might want to give him a deep passionate kiss or send him a picture like the one below on his phone, or in an envelope as a reminder of the trophy that you are.
  4. If he doesn’t do it..He might be sitting the bench for a looonnng time.
  5. Watch him get to work. If he doesn’t you might need to either contact me, or the doctor because he might not have a pulse.

Hey..We don’t make the Rules..We just like to play games.

Have a Good Weekend.

Coach Keith

I Want Something, Someone Real – (M.M.M. According to Jill Scott)

Several years ago I was playing a game with my wife PG,called the TRAP game. She asked me if I had to choose, who would be my celebrity GF’s. My wife already had her names, Kevin Johnson (former Phoenix Suns PG), Forrest Whitaker, the late Ed Bradley just to name a few. Men under any circumstances never play this game, or just make sure you add your wife even if she is a celebrity or not. One of my selections was Jill Scott. With a puzzling somewhat scowling look on her face, she asked why? Without hesitation, I said because of her voice. She could sing me a lullaby every night. Two, Jill’s words echo the fact that if you are real and you treat me right, you will receive the same treatment and more.

Being with a Black woman takes a certain amount of strength, patience and confidence that you can’t receive from any P90X workout DVD or John Madden Video Game. The great thing is Jill Scott with her lyrical prowess has provided the tools you need in order to be successful.  She just released her 5th album, The Light of the Sun, a few weeks ago. Jill Scott is the epitome of the world according to black women. She believes in empowerment and love. She is vulnerable and loyal to the people who are in her life. If she sees you in pain or not acting right, she will throw you a lifeline, but if you cross her, she will cut you. She may feel pain for a little while, but will move on.

If you are a man who loves and adores black women, but feel you have a hard time fully understanding your queen listen to Jill Scott’s new CD and the others. Her lyrics are words that should be studied if you want to thrive in your marriage. I’m not saying that Jill is the voice of all black women, but she is pretty close.

Here is Jill’s “Womanifesto” of what type of Real relationship women want so you can make the adjustments.

  1. How to know and understand your beautiful black woman. – I’m the Real thing in stereo..I gotta little highs, I gotta little lows.. (The Real Thing)
  2. Your woman wants you be all  in or not at all.  – I’m the magnificent with the sensational style Yes! Check her head to toe don’t forget the smile Blessed! If you were smart you would try to snatch it up Movin like a snail when you ‘gon catch up?! (It’s a Shame)
  3. Your woman may have a strong exterior, but your woman needs you.  And even though I can do all these things by my damn self I need you..I do, I do, I do, I do (The Fact Is (I Need You)
  4. Your woman wants you to communicate, the best way you can. Talk to me, break it down, spell it out for me baby (Talk to Me)
  5. This is how your woman wants to be Treated.
    Grown woman, making decisions and choices
    Utilizing everything inside of me,
    my soul my heart my mind my voices
    So maybe, in the middle of the night, when
    the dreams just aint going right
    … I can use, a tug, a hug, a kiss,
    something, strong, something, fit, for a Queen
    … Something,… passionate, someone with esteem, a king,… that’ll knock a Sister down..down..down..
  6. If you want her heart,  you have to work. It takes more than diamonds to woo me..Lalalala..It takes more than money to move me..Lalalala..It takes more than ooo material things (Spring Summer Feeling)
  7. Wants you to bring it in the bedroom and be confident about it.  NO LYRICS NECCESARY (Crown Royal)
  8. Even when the relationship gets tested, they will Always be there for you. Listen, I’m so in love with you, That I can’t help myself! Can’t help it! As long as it’s me and you We don’t need nothing else! (So in LoveV1OC_XmeIck
  9. They do make mistakes when it comes to Love. I’m truly sorry baby for what I did to you While you were busy loving me, I was busy too I played you dirty boy, did some things I shouldn’t do While you were only trying to treat me good I was playing… damn (Can’t Explain –  42nd St. Happenstance)
  10. If YOU decide if you aren’t all in..you will get Left. I have let you go  – And everything I went through was beautiful (When I Wake up.)

So Brothas of all races if you want to thrive in your relationships with your black sistah’s, buy Jill Scott’s CD’s. Study the lyrics, commit them to memory or study them like you should study your scriptures. It will make you relationship better.

Coach Keith

Is your spouse your Acre of Diamonds? Pooch and all?

The Acres of Diamonds story by Russell Herman Conwell is one of my favorites. It’s about taking what you have for granted until you see someone else bring its beauty.

My wife PG and I had an interesting discussion about this very topic.

We were discussing why, married women take looking good to another level. She said, “We don’t want to take our spouses for granted. If we have to suck in our tummies, were long eye lashes in front of our husbands we will do it.”
Then I said, as I began to examine my tummy, “We love you for you, pooches and all. We know it’s there.” She just shook her head..We are still debating it.

For some of us it’s easy to take our partner’s for granted. We just expect them to be there for us, love us, cater to us, sex us. When they don’t, we say to them. “What’s wrong with you!”  Never suspecting it might be how we treat them.

So this weekend do a little love mining.

  1. How good am I at what I’m presently doing in our relationship?
  2. Can I call myself a first-class husband/wife?
  3. How would my work stand up against the work of my spouse?   
  4. Do I know all I can about being a better husband or wife?   
  5. How can my spouse get a better break?   
  6. How can I increase my service to him/her?   
  7. My spouse has rare and very marketable diamonds. Have I been looking for them? Have I examined every facet of his/her life?
  8. There are better ways to do what I’m presently doing.    What are they?
  9. How will my marriage be performed 20 years from now?   
  10. Everything in our marriage is in a state of evolution and improvement.    How can I stay ahead of the game?

Cultivating your mines now will keep other miners away later.
Coach Keith

The Oval Office is about to shut down unless you get this road fixed!

A story that might have gone unnoticed this week was the fact that 250 women from a  town called Barbacoas, near the Pacific Coast of Columbia declared a “Crossed Legs Strike.” Their reason, they want their husbands to get off their couch and lobby government leaders to get the roads fixed.  Over the past 20 years, the roads have been pretty much unusable, since it takes over 10 hours to travel 30 miles to the next town.

We are tired of the incompetence and attitude of our husbands who are not capable of demanding the governor to construct a better road for the town. They may be man enough to order us around at home but they are too weak to fight for our rights in society,” one woman participating in the protest told the press.

Apparently, the Cross Legged Strike is catching on since Kelly Ripa is using this tactic to get her husband to fix their roof, or better yet, call the contractor to do it.

When I counsel clients that use ultimatums in their marriage, I immediately try to locate the source of this issue because the act of witholding something is really not the problem. At some point, the person handing out the ultimatum feels they have lost control and wants to get it back. On the other hand, this fear-based tactic can surely backfire on you. This very act of trying to gain control can result in the other person checking out completely.

If those 250 men decide to leave town in the middle of the night, it will take their women 10 hours to catch up to them.

Have a Happy and Safe Holiday.

Coach Keith