Secrets to Lasting Love: Uncovering the Keys to Life-Long Intimacy

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9780684850504: Secrets to Lasting Love: Uncovering the Keys to Life-Long Intimacy

Gary Smalley is one of the world's foremost experts on love and relationships. In his thirty years' experience as a teacher, speaker, and counselor, Smalley has helped countless thousands of couples create more meaningful communication and ultimate intimacy using his powerful and proven methods. Secrets to Lasting Love is the culmination of Smalley's decades of work. Now, many more thousands of couples will benefit from his groundbreaking research outlining the three skills of successful relationships.

Smalley believes that couples who want to move from a superficial to an "ultimate," deep level of intimacy and a lasting and loving relationship must master three key skills. First and foremost is honor -- respecting your spouse for all of his or her individual qualities as well as differences from you; next is communication -- speaking to one another in a way that moves conversations into deeper realms of understanding; and, last, constant renewal -- recharging your spouse emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually. But it is not easy to recognize and then apply these skills. Secrets to Lasting Love shows everyone how to do just that. Once these skills are successfully applied to a relationship, the couple is able to move into what Smalley calls the fifth, or ultimate, level of intimacy.

Couples who work with Smalley and who follow the principles he outlines in this book find themselves on a path to discovering deepening levels of intimacy. Learning to open up to one another, breaking through communication barriers, strengthening commitment, and being able to reach your spouse's heart and spirit are just a few of the benefits of Smalley's research and teaching.

Secrets to Lasting Love demonstrates how couples can build a bond that can withstand the inevitable highs and lows of marriage and move them into ever deeper levels of intimacy.

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About the Author:

Gary Smalley is one of the country's best-known authors and speakers on family relationships. He is the coauthor of sixteen bestselling, award-winning books, which have collectively sold nearly 6 million copies. He lives with his wife in Branson, Missouri.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Chapter One: Deeper: The Direction Toward the Ultimate Relationship

Every fully realized relationship is a trip from surface emotions down into the depths, descending through five distinct levels of intimate communication that move from the shallow levels to the fifth and deepest level. At this fifth level, a couple feels absolutely safe and accepted for what they feel and need as unique individuals. Throughout this book I am going to show you how to accelerate your journey through these levels, arriving at the deepest level in the shortest, most effective amount of time. For now, let's discuss the five levels, so you'll understand what your journey is going to entail.

These five levels of intimate communication were first introduced in John Powell's book, Why Am I Afraid to Tell You Who I Am? But later, Dr. Gary Oliver, head of the Center for Marriage and Family at John Brown University, helped me understand that my entire life's work could be grouped within these five levels. All couples will move in and out of one or more of these five levels of intimate communication every day. This book will help you understand the five levels of intimate communication and how to use three powerful relationship skills to move in and out of all five levels anytime you wish. These levels are the outline of this book. Now I realize just how powerful they are:

The Five Levels of Intimate Communication

1. Speaking in clichés

2. Sharing facts

3. Sharing opinions

4. Sharing feelings

5. Sharing needs

The first two levels are natural, easy, almost effortless. I've discovered that a majority of couples, sadly, can remain in these levels throughout their relationship.

When you embark on a journey toward intimacy, in a sense you are "diving into" your relationship. Perhaps you and your mate have spent years climbing through the mountains, the ups and downs of your relationship. But now you've reached an awesome sight: the ocean. You don't want to remain stranded on the shore or stay stuck at the surface. You want to dive in deeply, to leave the shallow waters of superficiality and delve into, and revel in, the depths of intimacy. If you've ever experienced scuba diving, you know the feeling: it will be a long and frequently tough dive, but you will be amazed at the wonders you will find under the surface!

As you and your mate communicate with each other in the course of your daily routines, you are unconsciously always moving in and out of one of the five levels. Here is an explanation of each one:

LEVEL ONE: Sharing clichés with each other. This is surface talk, down only just below the water's surface, perhaps four or five feet. You're engaged in almost meaningless chatter. "Hey, how are you, how are you doing?" asks one spouse. "Okay, great, no problem," replies the other.

LEVEL TWO: Sharing facts with each other. You're talking about the weather, the office, what's going on with your friends. You're down deeper, but just barely, perhaps four or seven feet down. It's a safe level, requiring no deep breathing, thinking, or feeling.

LEVEL THREE: Sharing opinions with each other. This includes discussing individual opinions, concerns, and expectations, including personal goals, dreams, and desires. Now you're finally getting into the depths, and your initial reaction, as when scuba diving, is most likely fear. Your oxygen is dissipating and your ears are suffering the pressure. Sharing opinions is like diving to the eight- to fifteen-foot range; you may instinctively want to retreat to the shallower levels.

Most people can learn to dive down ten feet, pick up a seashell or two, and then retreat to the surface. But to reap the treasures in your relationships, you must learn to stay in the depths. As in diving, you must have the skills to give you the confidence to stay at this level -- and also to go deeper. Nobody in his right mind begins a session in scuba diving without training. But couples all over the world begin relationships without even the slightest guidance, which is why they often remain at the shallowest levels of intimacy.

Speaking in clichés and sharing facts are safe harbors from conflict. But opinions are something else entirely. Opinions cause conflict, and conflict is extremely scary to most people. If a couple uses Level 3 -- the sharing of opinions -- as a wrestling ring or a jousting court, if they're forever trying to "get" each other, to prove their respective views, concerns, and needs as superior to the other's, they're headed toward trouble. This type of slowly escalating jousting creates fertile soil for the seeds that can grow into divorce. But if each party attempts to refocus his or her thinking on trying to understand the mate, instead of trying to "convince" the other that a particular opinion is superior, then they can become a team.

That's usually easier said than done, because when couples move from Level 2 to Level 3, from sharing facts to sharing opinions, they hit a barrier: conflict. This conflict can be compared to a doorway that takes tremendous time and work to pass through before the couple can move down to Levels 4 and 5, which, in our scuba diving analogy, are the deepest and safest levels to which a couple can "dive."

But conflict can work two ways: Most often, it breaks couples apart. But it also delivers them to the deeper levels. Yes, conflict is the doorway to intimacy, but for most couples it remains an immovable roadblock. Clichés are a cakewalk and facts are usually benign, but sharing opinions, concerns, and expectations? Opinions are the Pandora's box; they create conflict. So one or both partners will tend to become "infected" with one or more of four main "relational germs" -- withdrawal, escalation, belittling, or developing false beliefs about each other -- and will never get to the deepest, most fulfilling levels. Most couples in conflict can't see that the very force that is battering them is essential to reaching a deeper relationship. They're too busy with the struggle of daily existence to search for the depth beyond the conflict.

LEVEL FOUR: Sharing your deepest and truest feelings with each other. At this level, you help each other feel safe to share your deepest emotions. You each know that you will both do your very best to listen and value what the other is sharing. Each of you can accept the other as unique and special, a creation made up of all your history, personality, and family background. It's as if each of you represents a different combination of "colors," and you can both treasure each other's individual "color" combination. What's so exciting is this: as you walk through the door of conflict to reach the deeper levels of intimacy, you are simultaneously eliminating all four of the "divorce germs."

LEVEL FIVE: Sharing your most important relational needs. This is the deepest level of love and marital satisfaction. You've been together long enough and you feel safe enough to share your deepest needs with one another. I have discovered from thousands of couples that seven needs keep surfacing as the most important to both men and women. But the most intimate part of loving communication is when both of you feel safe to reveal your unique needs to one another. This shows that you know you will be accepted and valued by your mate for who you are.

Guess how long it takes for the average individual to begin sharing his or her feelings and needs? Six years. Again, the average time for divorce? Five and a half years. Why? Because once you hit the third level of intimacy -- sharing opinions -- you're at the greatest risk for conflict. Without some training, you could stay conflicted at this level for some time. People have an intuitive sense that danger lurks behind the door of

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