November 19, 2014

“Are we just roommates living in the same house?”  Most people ask the question at some point in their relationship. Building and keeping friendship and understanding fresh in a relationship can get lost in the busyness of careers, household tasks, raising kids and all of the complexities of life. Transparency is a skill and honesty is the soil that allows friendship to grow.

Communication has layers. Each layer has a place and purpose. These layers are described in John Powell’s book Why I am Afraid to Tell You Who I Am.

  1. Small Talk: Can be described as simple, polite conversational niceties.
  2. Facts: Information is delivered with no personal information. This is very “professional” language.
  3. Ideas/Opinions: This level starts the journey below the surface toward greater understanding and friendship. It answers the question, “What are your thinking?”
  4. Feelings/Emotions: Emotions are verbalized. The door is opened to the interior world. These answer the question, “How are you feeling?”
  5. Deep Insights: These are the “wow” moments when two people feel and understand on a soul to soul level. You know you are at an extraordinary place of mutual intimacy.

The deeper the level of communication the greater the need for mutual trust and respect.

Identify your “normal” layer of communication.
Why are you “stuck” at that level?
Is it a trust issue? (It’s not safe to share feelings and opinions.)
Is it a time issue? Do you have the time for deep personal conversation?
Is it skills? (Don’t know how to get below the surface?)
Do you need to start asking, “What do you think?” or, ”How do you feel?”

Action: Discuss the level of friendship/understanding you each feel in your relationship. What is one step that could enhance your relationship?

Resource: Why I am Afraid to Tell You Who I Am by John Powell

Read More: We’ve Been Married for Years, What Do We Talk About on a Date?

Written by Mike Woodard

Mike Woodard

Mike is married to Karen, he is father of 4 and grandfather of 2. Backpacking is his favourite past time. Science and theology are his educational background, a biology degree from Central Michigan University and a master’s degree in Christian Studies from Trinity Western Seminary. Mike is the Associate Director of FamilyLife Canada. For more of his story visit