Tony revisits the "Levels of Intimacy." Physical attraction may be enough to bring a couple together initially but is it enough to sustain a relationship when you feel disconnected emotionally, spiritually, or intellectually? Or how about when you feel like anything you say to each other is a trigger for an argument? Learn how to form a more healthy view of intimacy, beginning with psychological intimacy, verbal intimacy, emotional intimacy, etc. Discover how to make physical intimacy the natural byproduct of a strong connection. Tony first learned about the Levels of Intimacy from Dr. Kevin Skinner of ADDO Recovery while receiving an 18-month certification working with victims of betrayal trauma.
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[00:00:15] Come on. Take a seat.
[00:00:23] Hey, everybody, welcome to episode 313 of the Virtual Couch. I'm your host, Tony Overbay. I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist, certified, mindful habit coach, writer, speaker, husband, father of four, ultra marathon runner and creator of The Path Back, an online pornography recovery program that is helping people turn away from pornography as a coping mechanism and become the very best version of themselves that they've ever been in their entire lives. If you want more information on that, go to Pathbackrecovery.com. And there you can you can hunt down a a short book. Five Myths that people often believe when trying to move away from pornography as a coping mechanism once and for all. Again, that's pathbackrecovery.com and I haven't promoted this in quite a while, but head over to Instagram and check out the virtual couch account because I have people that are again starting to put out more content there and I got away from that for a little while and there's a lot that I want to share there. So there's going to be a lot coming up, especially in anticipation for my magnetic marriage course. So my buddy Preston, Pug Meyer and I are going to be putting on another round of the magnetic marriage course that's coming soon. But before that, and I'm excited about this, I want all virtual couch listeners to know that on April 7th. So that's in a couple of weeks, two, three weeks, I'm going to be putting on what I'm calling a magnetize your marriage workshop. It will be virtual and I will be promoting that on social media as well on this podcast and my Waking Up to Narcissism podcast. And I'm going to talk about the.
[00:01:49] That you need to have a more connected relationship to be able to have more connected conversations. I often talk about my four pillars. I talk about differentiation and being autonomous and interdependent and untangling yourself from this codependency and enmeshment and all of the buzzwords. But we're going to talk a lot about what that actually means and what that looks like, because I'm very convinced, I know that this is the case, that no one has the tools. We do not have the tools from the start. And I'm talking about from childhood, from our adolescence, you have to find the tools to make your marriage better. And you honestly, you don't go looking for those tools until you need them. And then simply finding the right tool doesn't fix the relationship either. That is actually when the work begins and I it is a little bit of a challenge. It can be difficult work. I remember being a newlywed and people say and marriage is such hard work. And my wife and I often said, well, it doesn't seem very hard and we've been married 31 years. I'm a marriage therapist. We love each other to death. And that doesn't mean that everything is just peaches and cream or it's just roses and a walk in the park. Because the more that you are in a relationship, the longer that you're in a marriage, the more that you go through things, the more that you realize that you really are two different people and you have different experiences and different thoughts and belief systems that start to bubble up to the surface.
[00:03:03] And you need the tools to be able to communicate about them. And the craziest thing is that I really believe people just don't even understand what a relationship can look like. And as a matter of fact, Preston and I are getting some amazing feedback from previous iterations of the magnetic marriage course where people said that they even thought that they were doing pretty well, but they didn't know what they didn't know. The workshop will be heavy on tools again on the four pillars of a connected conversation and what a healthy, autonomous, interdependent, mature relationship can look like, and what that means to truly go through life as two separate individuals. But going through life together and being able to edify each other, being able to look at situations with absolute curiosity, and then being able to have shared experiences with your partner and not feel like you are being devalued or you're being picked on, or just really knowing how to show up in an emotionally mature way and what that can really look like. So head to Tony over Macomb Magnetic and sign up for the workshop. And I am going to be absolutely transparent. You know, the podcast is free. Hopefully you've been getting value from the podcast over the last five years and 313 episodes. But I'm going to be very, very specific, very intentional and direct in the workshop.
[00:04:14] And I did want to make it easily accessible to everybody. But I'm also going to work off a little bit of the research that says people will be more engaged if they are more intentional about a course or a workshop. So there needs to be a little bit of skin in the game. So there is a cost. The cost is $19 and that amount will absolutely be refundable. Should you not find anything of value in the workshop, I will refund it as fast as you can say. I don't. No refund. So April 7th will be an opportunity to truly get and understand more about the tools of what a healthy, emotionally mature relationship is meant to be and look like and just go to Tony over Macomb Magnetic. So on to today's topic. Today, I'm going to I'm going to re explore a concept that this is one of the most downloaded episodes of all time on the virtual couch, and that is the levels of intimacy. And talking about these levels of intimacy, because I really feel like this is a foundational principle that needs to be understood and explored even before we get up into the world of four pillars and all of the other things that I'm talking about. And I went and dug into the notes of the last time I did this. I initially gave the Levels of Intimacy podcast that looks like episodes 70 or 71 almost four years ago.
[00:05:24] And then I rerun it as a best of a time or two. So I'm going to add a little bit of different I'm going to add some additional information today. But the reason I bring that up is I was looking at the notes of the when I last ran the bonus episode, and it was almost spooky, as they say, because I looked at the intro and I talked about how I was of the speak at the Outlier Podcast Festival in Salt Lake on January 25th. And then I spoke at a church event, the fireside there in Salt Lake City that same weekend. That was in January 25th of 2020. And shortly thereafter the world shut down. And I remember at that time it was exciting. And we had heard a little bit about the coronavirus and the pandemic, the potential that things were going to get interesting. And lo and behold, another month and a half later, things absolutely did get interesting. But the reason I bring that up is I was starting to go out on the road more and speak more, and I had a few things set up that then just absolutely were shut down. So it does remind me that I can't wait to get out there. And so if you are looking for someone to come speak in your area, your event on marriage or parenting or addiction or couples communication or that sort of thing, feel free to drop me a note at Contact@tonyoverbay.com or just go through my website as well.
[00:06:32] Let me give a little bit of backstory on these levels of intimacy. I started doing a betrayal trauma training through ATL recovery, and I believe it was about five or six years ago. And I had been working with the population of people that were turning to pornography as a coping mechanism. And that is where I really came up with my thoughts around people turn to these coping mechanisms when they have these voids in their life, when they feel not connected with their marriage, not connected in their parenting or their health or their faith or their career and in working with the population. I started to hear of Dr. Kevin Skinner, and Dr. Kevin Skinner has a book called Overcoming Pornography Addiction. That's a really short, quick read. But it it goes into a lot of the neuroscience of addiction and just give some really practical tips on helping people who are struggling with turning to pornography as a coping mechanism. I was in a office at the time and there were a couple of other clinicians that I love. Actually, each one has been on my podcast, Shelly Aldrich and Shawna Robert Shelly talked about anxiety and Shawna talked about boundaries, and they were beginning to work with Dr. Skinner's company. It's called ATL Recovery Aid Recovery, and they asked me if I wanted to attend a betrayal trauma training group with them, and I jumped on that opportunity.
[00:07:45] It was an ability to work directly with Dr. Skinner, and I believe it was over the course of about the next 18 months we met with him weekly, or it was every other week, and we had these just small group sessions where we were trained and certified in working through betrayal trauma. And it was some of the most enlightening work that I had ever done, because I had done so much with the people that were struggling with the compulsive sexual behavior or the impulse control disorder, that we're using pornography as a coping mechanism. And to get that other side, the side of the spouse, the betrayed spouse, was just so helpful in me actually working the person struggling with the coping mechanism. And it also helped me in my couples therapy and really understanding more about what that was like for the Betrayed. And that actually was a big part of the book that I wrote. He's a porn addict now. What a expert in a former addict. To answer your questions with Josh Shay that spent a couple of years in the best seller category on Amazon for sexual health and recovery, which I do. I still I highly recommend that book and it's on Amazon or you can contact me directly. I have some copies here as well.
[00:08:44] But in learning more about the Betrayal Trauma program, we were talking with Dr. Kevin Skinner at one point, and if you give him a quick Google, he has a pretty phenomenal TEDx talk. It's called The Other Side of Infidelity, as well as the book that I mentioned, Overcoming Pornography Addiction. And then he has a really good book called Treating Trauma from Sexual Betrayal. That is good for both the betrayer and the Betray. But Dr. Skinner is also a licensed marriage and family therapist. And if you read his bio, this was a couple of years ago, it was talking about how he had helped individuals and families for at that point over 18 years. He's the co founder of Bloom for Women, which is an online resource for women struggling with betrayal trauma. And he's a certified sexual addiction therapist and supervisor, also certified and I Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing or EMDR, which is something that I've talked about often on my podcast as well. And he also has a PhD in marriage and family therapy from Brigham Young University. So here's what I took away in this trade. So again, we're doing betrayal trauma training. But just one day we were talking and he drew out a concept that I just made so much sense. And he talked about these levels of intimacy. And I'm going to go on a little bit of a of a broad overview and then we'll dig deeper into some of the data that he had shared.
[00:09:57] But he talked about when we meet people that we typically get into a relationship. And again, no judgment, no shame on this, but we typically get into a relationship because we find someone attractive, that there is a physical attraction. And if you could see me right now, I've got my hands up high and I'm almost laying out this horizontal top rung of a ladder. And on that top rung is where I would put. The physical or physical intimacy. So this physical attraction, typically we jump into the physical attraction layer, we see somebody, we find them attractive and we want to get to know them better. We want to ask them out on dates. We want to kiss them. We want to hug them. We want to do all those things. And again, nothing wrong with that. That's just the way that we start. Often in the notes that I have from my initial training with Dr. Skinner, I lay out almost like these rungs of a ladder, these different levels of intimacy. So on the bottom, which is what a foundation of a relationship is, we really want to work toward, as he calls psychological intimacy. And psychological intimacy is founded on four key principles honesty, loyalty, trust and commitment. And so I want you to picture this, if you can, then once we have that foundation built on psychological intimacy, when that is intact, when that is in place, then then in a relationship, we'll start to really feel connected.
[00:11:06] What happens is typically the opposite. We meet each other and we have this physical attraction, but now we jump back down and we're trying to build this psychological intimacy. And how do we do that? Well, right above psychological intimacy is verbal intimacy. And verbal intimacy is when we really feel like we can just talk to someone about anything, that we can just talk for hours. And maybe you had some of those experiences with your partner or back in the day your boyfriend, your girlfriend. And if you remember the long phone calls, 3 hours, 4 hours. And I often don't know if people even do that anymore, if it's more of just a whole bunch of texting or a direct messaging through Instagram or Snapchatting. But if you're over a certain age, you maybe remember just talking to somebody on the phone until the late hours in the morning and you really feel like you could talk about anything. And so that would be what is called verbal intimacy. And so when you move up from verbal intimacy, the next rung on this ladder, so to speak, is called emotional intimacy. So when you really feel like that verbal intimacy is intact, when you feel like you can really talk to your partner just about anything and everything, then you start to feel safe and you can open up a little bit more emotional.
[00:12:07] So if that verbal intimacy is intact now you start to share more of your emotions with this person. You start to feel so connected that now you feel like you can share a lot of different things, how you feel about things, your hopes, maybe your dreams, your frustration, your sadness, your anger. And so when you feel like you can share those emotions, so somebody now you're connected at literally a different level, this higher level of intimacy. So then remember, we've got this verbal intimacy, and then from that is this emotional intimacy. Now the next level up on this intimacy ladder, so to speak, is what he had was cognitive or intellectual intimacy. And the way that I like to say that is, again, if you have this verbal intimacy intact, you feel like you can talk and open up about anything. And then you've got the emotional intimacy above that that you can really start to share your hopes and dreams and feelings. It feels safe. And then at the next level you've got cognitive or intellectual intimacy. And I sometimes make the joke that now here's where one person can have their PhD and one person can have their GED. And that doesn't matter because we're connected, we're verbally and emotionally connected. And so this cognitive and intellectual intimacy level, then we're going to really be able to talk still about anything. And we don't feel like our partner is trying to make us feel dumb or we appreciate the differences between you and your spouse, you and your partner.
[00:13:20] Even though one of you may have a lot of book learning or book smarts, the other one maybe has a lot of street smarts or more common sense, and you're able to still feel a connection at that level. Then above cognitive and intellectual is spiritual intimacy. And this is where and I hope that you can see why this it just feels like it just makes so much sense is that if you just jump right into a relationship and you start opening up about different spiritual beliefs that may not feel safe or you may not feel a connection there, and that's why you need to do that foundational work of the verbal intimacy to get to the emotional, to get to the cognitive and intellectual. And then if those are all feeling like there's a connection now, we can open up spiritually so we can have different views on spirituality coming from a different spiritual place, different spiritual plane. But that would make sense if it's built upon this verbal, emotional, cognitive and intellectual bonds that we feel safe enough that we can even share our differences about the hereafter and still feel like this is our person, that they're there for us, that they care about us. And now the top rung on that ladder is physical intimacy. And remember, physical intimacy doesn't just mean sexual intimacy.
[00:14:24] It can mean touching, it can mean hugging. It can mean just being together and just getting close enough that you feel that cuddle hormone, that oxytocin just flowing. And so here's the takeaway that I really took that I still have down in these notes from meeting with Dr. Skinner so long ago is so then when we feel connected verbally and then when we feel connected emotionally, when we feel like we can be on the same page, we can really open up. Then, even despite our differences in cognitive or intellectual intimacy or spiritual intimacy, that we can communicate these differences effectively. And it feels like this is still our person. There are going to be things that we agree on, but they're also going to be things that we have different opinions on, and we're going to view that with curiosity. Then the byproduct and this was the biggest takeaway, that byproduct of all of these levels of connection, all these levels of intimacy is physical intimacy. So at that point, you feel so connected to your partner and you feel like that in essence the most the next level. Logical thing from all this connection is wanting to be physical, wanting to be physically intimate with your partner. Again, it doesn't just mean sex, but it means you're so connected. You just want to touch this person and hug this person. This is your person. So take a look backwards.
[00:15:30] Then if we meet and we find this physical attraction, which again is absolutely normal, we find someone attractive, and now we go down and we try to talk to them. And maybe the conversation doesn't really go very well. Maybe you don't feel like there is much of that verbal connection. But if we say, well, they're pretty good looking though, or I really want to make out with this person, then are we overlooking certain things? Are we overlooking these red flags because this person is kind of hot? And so then you might make up the fact that, well, it's probably an off day or we were talking about something that that I really don't feel like it really matters. So it's fine that that didn't go very well. But then we want a deep connection with someone else. So then let's say that we do start to open up about things our hopes, our dreams, and that person just either absolutely lacks interest or there's yeah, there's no curiosity. There's no questions. Another quick plug for the Waking Up, the Narcissism podcast. But when I had people that reenter the dating world, when they get out of these unhealthy relationships, these emotionally immature relationships, it's interesting that we often then look for what the red flags are. And one of the biggest red flags that somebody finds when they reenter a dating scenario is an absolute lack of curiosity from someone that they're going out with, someone who just incessantly talks about themselves, trying to puff themselves up or make themselves look amazing so that this person in front of them will want to be with.
[00:16:48] And so you really do want that curiosity. So if you open up emotionally to somebody and they don't reciprocate that, that they don't seem to really care, then it's going to feel off. Now, if they are stunning, they have these deep blue eyes and or this luscious head of hair, and you just really think, Oh, I can't. I just want to run my fingers through that hair. I just want to stare deeply into these eyes. Then how often do we overlook that verbal intimacy or the lack of verbal intimacy or the lack of emotional connection? How often do we overlook these red flags because the person's they're attractive or because we just have these this chemical draw to this person? You just want to be with that person physically. And because we and I go back to my emotionally focused therapy routes and training is that this is when that world of emotionally focused therapy, which is what I use, it's the underlying principles that led to the four pillars of a connected conversation is we need someone that we are putting out these emotional bids saying, Are you there for me? Can I count on you? Do you have my back? And then if that partner responds back with a heavy dose of shame or guilt or fixing or judgment, then we don't feel that connection emotionally.
[00:17:56] We don't have that emotional intimacy. But again, if we look back and say, But I'm attracted to this person, or maybe we get physically intimate often, early and often, and that's where we base our connection from that often I feel like we have this whole thing flipped around and that we feel like the physical intimacy is the basis of a relationship. And so if we don't feel like we can trust our partner, if there isn't that loyalty or that trust, that honesty or that commitment, but we feel like the physical intimacy is the foundation. Then I believe that is where the siren song of addiction can start to come true. Because if we feel like we're not equally yoked, there's going to be a high desire or a low desire partner from a physical intimacy place. Then if that's the foundation of the relationship, that's where people might often then look outside of the relationship for coping to deal with the sexual invalidation, maybe we'll call it, or the sexual inequality, where when people then flip that and they build the relationship on a foundation of verbal and emotional, cognitive, intellectual and spiritual intimacy, then that physical intimacy is the byproduct. And this is where I just I often say that in people. I feel like when they initially come into my office, a lot of times the underlying concept that they want to talk about is not feeling connected sexually.
[00:19:08] And I feel like oftentimes that speaks to me that they haven't done that work on these lower rungs or these foundational principles of intimacy. And they're and I feel like most partners are not going to be equally yoked sexually. And we really need to start to look at changing our whole relationship with physical intimacy that it doesn't need to be the foundation, that, okay, I feel connected if we have sex, but it's that we feel connected in order to then get to a place where we want to be physically intimate or have sex. So I hope you can get the sense of where that can really feel like a different shift in an entire relationship. And oftentimes in my couples relationships, the reason why I want to establish these four pillars above all is because if you don't have the tools to communicate and like I said at the beginning of this episode, we aren't born with the tools. We have to find the tools. When you are coming from an emotionally immature situation as a child, which we all do where we grew up and we needed external validation because we didn't have a true sense of self. As a kid, you really don't know who you are, so you're basing who you are on the reaction of others. So if everybody around you is. You're amazing and wonderful. Then you feel pretty amazing and wonderful.
[00:20:18] If people around you were a little bit indifferent or they're so caught up into their own situations, the adults in your life or your older siblings, then you can often feel like you you don't matter or you're maybe not enough. And then we try to find any way to get that validation, that external validation, whether it is then becoming the star student or the fixer or the pleaser in the family, or sometimes this is when people then start to to withdraw, the way that they get their emotional needs met is they get their attention by becoming almost the problem in the family. And so we go into our adult relationship still with these attachment, these abandonment wounds. And so we're putting out these cues of, are you there for me? Do I matter? Can I count on you? Do you have my back? Then if we just if we start that whole relationship dynamic flipped on its head with physical intimacy as the foundational principle, I think you can start to see how now we're getting our external validation through physical intimacy. And then that may never quite be in the same place for each person in the relationship, based on different times and seasons and stresses and that sort of thing. We need to really take a look at starting the relationship off with that verbal intimacy, or if you're not there now, that's where you've got to put in the work.
[00:21:34] And this is why I feel like my four pillars are so important, because let's just say now you're 20 years into a relationship and you don't feel like you're on the same page sexually or you don't feel like you're equally yoked in that arena and you don't even know where to start. And if you're being honest with yourself and the first place you go to in your mind is, Yeah, I think if we had more sex, we'd be a lot more connected then that I feel very confident in saying this, but that is trying to base your relationship on this physical intimacy in order to get to the verbal or the emotional connection. And we really need to flip that switch. But now if you start saying, okay, all right, we'll start to talk more and you start to share your opinions. But then those opinions feel like criticism from your spouse because you don't have the tools, you don't have the framework to be able to communicate effectively, then I think you can probably see where. Then all of a sudden now it feels like, okay, we're not as connected to sexually or the physical intimacy isn't there. And now I try to connect with my partner, we try to talk, but that doesn't go well either because they just start to shut down or withdraw or I feel like they don't care about what I'm saying. Then I feel like that's where a lot of relationships get and then they start to do again.
[00:22:36] It's called experiential avoidance. They kick that can down the road and say, You know what, it's okay. It'll be better when we'll win. It'll be better when I get the new job. It'll be better when we move. It'll be better when the kids are a little bit older. It'll be better when we can get out of the house more. It'll be better when we're financially stable. It'll be better when. And unfortunately, what happens is people aren't doing the work and then they get to that point and then all of a sudden, well, it's not really better because they didn't do any of the work to get to that point. The work to be done is learning to get to these different levels of intimacy. If you can't open up and communicate with your spouse without feeling like you're being attacked or you have to walk on eggshells and you're not really sure how to even communicate, then that's where we start to just say, I'll do it later, I'm tired. Things are going okay today, so I really don't want to rock the boat. And that's why we are so afraid of contention that we avoid tension altogether. And tension is really where growth can occur. Tension doesn't have to be a negative thing. Tension occurs when we have two different opinions on a situation, but if we don't have a way to communicate about that, then absolutely that tension can feel like it's going to blow up and so that we want to avoid it altogether.
[00:23:39] Which is why I feel like it's so important to have an understanding of these levels of intimacy and then to get the tools in order to be able to communicate more effectively so that you can get up to that emotional intimacy and work yourself into a position where the physical intimacy is the byproduct. It's not the foundational principle. Dr. Skinner shared a pretty funny story when he was relating this to us. He said he had done a training, I believe, where he was presenting this concept, the levels of intimacy somewhere, and he was sharing the stage with a well known sex therapist, a female sex therapist. And the story, as I remember, is that she came out after him and she says, I buy into what Dr. Skinner is saying. I agree with it. And she said, I think that my libido is small, my husband's libido is large. And she said, absolutely. If we're connected verbally, emotionally, cognitive, intellectual, spiritually, physically, when we're connected at all these levels, she said. Sometimes I just say, I know he's feeling a little bit overwhelmed and I'll just say, Get over here and let me give you a quickie in the closet. And apparently that brought the whole crowd to laughter. But what she was saying is that we're so connected that she knows that it's not all about the physical and that there are times where the physical connection might be something that he craves.
[00:24:45] And it isn't something that then she feels like it is an obligation or it's simply transactional, but that she feels like there's a connection and she recognizes that they have different views, but they feel so connected verbally, emotionally, cognitive and intellectually, spiritually, that then that is something that can be more a part of a relationship where we want to give our partner the things that they want as well. Also in my notes from that time working with Dr. Skinner is he talked about the value of creating meaningful relationship. Chips. And that's where he called these levels of intimacy the secret weapon of recovery. And he said in the world of recovery, he believes that there's either addiction or intimacy. He said that these six powerful types of intimacy, if you apply these into the recovery process, that you are going to have a deeper connection and it will aid you in your healing. Dr. Skinner was actually and let's apply these even in the recovery process for somebody that's battling addiction. And that's where these levels of intimacy will lead to deeper connections that will aid in healing, because this is where I take this and apply it into my if somebody is feeling these voids, if they're feeling a lack of connection and if they're feeling a lack of connection in their their marriage, again, their parenting, their health, their faith, their career, lacking this intimacy on a variety of levels, because I really feel like this level of intimacy that, yes, we're talking about this with your partner, but if you even feel this when you are with your kids, if you're like, man, we really can they can talk to me about anything and they can feel like they can open up emotionally.
[00:26:05] Or even if you're talking about a work environment where you feel you are in a safe place, where you have that verbal intimacy and you can open up emotionally about ideas that you have. And again, it doesn't mean that then we have to hug it out after every business meeting, but sometimes you just feel that connection. I think that's where even handshakes and pats on the back can even come from. And Dr. Skinner quoted Dr. Victor El Brown and he said, The lives of most people are histories of their search for intimacy or of their attempts to be socially, physically and emotionally close to others. And that's where I really feel like the concepts or the core of emotionally and focused there or EFT that I so love that is based out of because it's based on attachment theory that we are basically going around and we're it's almost like that book I remember as a kid, are you my mother? And but instead of going around the little bird saying, are you my mom? Are you my mom? Or in essence walking around saying, Are you there for me? Can I count on you? And so when we get together with a partner, the person that we eventually marry, or the people that are boyfriends or girlfriends or fiances or long term committed relationships, that that's who we're turning to.
[00:27:08] And we're saying, Are you there for me? That is this Dr. Brown talked about. We're searching for intimacy. We're searching for an attempt to be emotionally and physically close to a person. And so Dr. Skinner said this. He said, If Dr. Brown's quote is true and that's what our lives are focused on, then when we focus on intimacy that we should put our deepest efforts into finding this intimacy, not just physical intimacy, but how so? And he said up to this point, things like pornography and sexual addiction have probably distracted or distracted the addict away from these deep, intimate relationships where they do feel like they're unlovable or they're unknowable. So I do I go back to this when somebody fee or when someone turns to pornography or compulsive sexual behavior or gambling or alcohol or drugs or their phones or work or these sort of things as an unhealthy coping mechanism. That is, that at their core, are they seeking a connection there because they are afraid of being known or being understood by another person, that when something's missing in their life, when they feel like they're not a good husband or father, when they're not connected to their kids, when they don't feel passionate about their career, that they don't like that feeling, then they turn toward a an unhealthy coping mechanism or an addiction.
[00:28:23] So Dr. Skinner said pornography and sexual addiction are probably distracting people away from these deep, intimate relationships. Or maybe pornography and sexual addiction have actually been the coping mechanism that people have used to deal with stressors. And so he said that as you turn away from addiction and toward intimacy, healing will improve significantly. And I believe this is where he started to build these his take on these types or levels of intimacy. And so he said, let me begin with what he calls verbal intimacy. It's conversation. It's talking about the weather in a marriage. It might be talking about the kids or banking finances, all those things, all those parts of conversations that might not seem intimate, but they are also very important. And he said that he found that when couples are having a difficult time, that their verbal intimacy is a challenge, it's a struggle. They actually begin to ignore that part and then in essence, then ignore each other. So when they feel disconnected, they're not talking about anything. They're not talking about the weather, they're not talking about their workouts. They're maybe not even talking about their kids or the banking or that sort of thing.
[00:29:17] So then he said that deeper form of communication is then what he calls emotional intimacy. And so emotional intimacy is deepening of the verbal communication. So in my take it was the verbal communication leads to the emotional intimacy. But I do like how he even puts that better. That emotional intimacy is the deepening of verbal communication, because now you're sharing emotions, your hurts, you're sad, your sorrows, your joy, your happiness. And as you share those types of emotion, even sharing your cravings, sharing your struggles. If you're the person who's struggling with addiction and you share that with somebody that you care about, then it can draw you toward that person because you're being vulnerable. Now, I think what the challenge is, are you sharing that from a place of vulnerability or are you sharing that from a place of manipulation? And only you are the one who knows that if you're sharing that from a place of man. I'm just so sad because these are the things that I want and I'm such a horrible person and I know I'm never going to get these things. You may be creating an unhealthy, dynamic and unhealthy relationship with intimacy there, where if your spouse then feels like, okay, I need to give him physical. Intimacy basically in order so that he will perk back up and be a better husband, a better father. And then but then also you in the scenario and this husband, if then he also wants to be desired and he wants her to initiate.
[00:30:27] He wants to do all these things. But is he creating this mixed signal or this unhealthy relationship with intimacy? And oftentimes I do. I find that with the spouse, they want their partner to be open and vulnerable. They want their partner not to be closed off or standoffish. So with these sharing of emotions, Dr. Skinner says that is what will create emotional intimacy. And he found that when couples don't share emotions with each other, that they start to feel isolated and empty, they start to feel alone. And so it's at that point where he said that third type of intimacy is what he calls cognitive or intellectual intimacy. So this is where I was building from. He said that when couples have goals that they share with each other or they work together, that he talked about a story where a couple became very successful financially, going through museums, finding artists who were early in their career. They purchased the art. They sold the art because they found these artists early, but they more importantly, enjoyed sharing these experiences at the museums together and purchasing the art together that it was a common goal. And Dr. Skinner said that couples who have a common goal together generally have better relationships. And I believe that's where I would challenge the concept of opposites attract.
[00:31:26] I understand the attraction to the opposites, but I found that in working with a lot of couples, that when they do just say, Well, he does his thing, I do my thing, that that doesn't feel like a connection. I remember my wife's grandparents long ago talked about just spending time with each other, and they talked about how even though they had their own things, that they both attended activities with each other and that they maybe she wasn't as big of a fan and doing the things that he enjoyed, but that they wanted to spend that time together because they really wanted to have shared experiences. So Dr. Skinner does put that out there. He challenges. He says we want to try to form common goals to have a better relationship. So think about how many common goals you might have with your spouse and see what type of goals those are and do you feel. But again, one of the biggest challenges is, let's say that you're trying to sit down and talk about having common goals. Do you feel like you really can share what your goal is or do you feel like you have to then say, Oh yeah, I agree, or just agree with whatever your spouse's goal is? Dr. Skinner talked about someone that he was working with who was overcoming an addiction to smoking, to nicotine, and the person took up running and he said that was something that the person's wife enjoyed as well.
[00:32:29] And Dr. Skinner said, I'll never forget, as the person described, running across the finish line of a marathon with his wife, they had ran the entire thing together. They finished together. What a great form of intimacy that they had this common goal. And I can really tell you, this is one of the things that I just love about my wife, is that we do enjoy we enjoy working out together. We enjoy going on runs together. And it really is a deeper form of a connection moving up from there. Then we go to the spiritual intimacy that couples share, spiritual intimacy. Then we'll also grow stronger together. That doesn't mean that they have to be on the exact same page that regardless of your religious beliefs, sharing common spiritual values can bind you closer together. So it is important to be able to talk about those things from a place of vulnerability and curiosity. And when one can do that, that is an additional level up on these rungs of intimacy. And he says that one of the most common than struggles that people have, that piece, the sexual intimacy piece. And so he said here's where he goes back to the where the concept initially came from in the world of addiction, where he talked about that pornography and sexual addiction can create havoc on someone's sexual relationship. They can create a lot of problems. So learning how to reintegrate sexuality is a very important part of healing and recovery.
[00:33:40] And it's understanding your spouse's pain or the trauma. You're married, it's understanding how it's influencing your sexuality, he said. And if you're single, regardless of your situation, pornography and sexual addiction will it can and will hinder your sexual development. In my magnetic marriage course, I talk about these high charge topics. I talk about religion, politics, parenting, finances. And then the fifth topic I have in these high charge topics is sex. It's intimacy. And so it is difficult to talk about, but it's absolutely necessary. So I go back to the fact that we don't have the tools until we go find them. So if you do have a challenge talking about sex and intimacy, sexual connection, you're normal, you're human. And especially if you've built your relationship in this reverse ladder where the if you really believe that the sexual piece is the foundation and that if we only had more sex, everything would be better, then I really feel like that we need to take we you need to take a look at reestablishing a relationship with intimacy and rebuilding the marriage or the relationship on these other levels of intimacy. Again, starting with the verbal, because Dr. Skinner said, and I so agree with this, that couples and individuals that as they start to have a better understanding of their sexuality, that they can deepen their intimacy and they begin to understand how to be patient and how to not focus on their sexuality.
[00:34:59] It doesn't become as dominant as it once was. It doesn't become as much of a this thing that you just have to force or feel like they have no control over them. There's less lusting, there's more loving and kindness, more affection, less expectation. And I think this is where I just feel such a passion about this as couples work together. Or a single people do this, they find a greater, deeper, intimate bond because the relationship is not just about sex, it's about connection. And that's the key. When you work in this field long enough, you find that people's sexual appetites, people, prostate cancer accidents, different things can affect one's sexuality. And that is where you don't want to get to that point and then realize that we don't really have a lot else going on in our relationship. And Dr. Skinner talks about that same thing. He said, it's not about sex, it's about connection. And so that's where we get to this. Again, the ultimately the psychological intimacy. And that's where even in the list, even though he talks about it last, he puts that at the bottom, that again, that's this basis. The psychological intimacy is built with these components of trust, honesty, loyalty and commitment. And he said, if you take those four elements out of any relationship, he said, I guarantee you'll be fighting and arguing again.
[00:36:05] But if you have this trust, honesty, loyalty and commitment as you work to reestablish those in the relationship, and then that's I love how he puts this. He says the brain relaxes, the relationship gets better. And trust and honesty are what we would call these cornerstones, as well as loyalty and commitment, saying, I'm in, I'm loyal to you. And I just want to say that he also added that because, again, these came out of his work in addiction and recovery. He said the damage created by pornography or sexual addiction in these four areas is really significant. The four areas of trust, loyalty, honesty and commitment. However, when couples recover, he said, I guarantee you that trust begins to be reestablished, that honesty is expected, that commitment is given, and loyalty is just who you are to your partner. And that part just blows my mind in the best kind of way. That loyalty, again, is who you are to your partner. You are a loyal partner. And because I feel like those are the times where you're going to want to connect on all these other levels because that's who you are, because you're a kind person, you're a good person. And it's not just about whether or not I'm going to have sex or I'm going to have control that you care about your partner and that as you increase the psychological intimacy, the other forms of intimacy get better. And I think that's where he had thrown out in this training and why I had it at the bottom level, this bottom rung of the ladder of intimacy, again, the psychological intimacy.
[00:37:17] And so then as you increase the psychological intimacy, the other forms of intimacy will automatically get better. That if those four areas are lacking the honesty, loyalty, trust and commitment, then you're going to have problems in that verbal, emotional, cognitive, intellectual. And so I just what a concept these levels of intimacy I feel like whenever I even have a challenge or struggle with couples in my office and I believe the four pillars are absolutely gold and I mean that. And I have no problem saying that, that they are bulletproof. They are such a solid framework. It just blows my mind. You can use them in connecting with your partner, your spouse, your kids in your office at work, and they are so solid. But sometimes when we feel like we don't, we can't even access the four pillars. We have to just go back to these lower rungs or low or lower levels of intimacy. So I appreciate you hanging around today and sticking with me. I'm going to leave, as per usual, with the wonderful talent that Aurora Florence with her song. It's wonderful. And don't forget to go to Tony over Macomb Magnetic. You can sign up for the workshop. That's coming up on April 7th. I appreciate you listening, sharing all the all the amazing comments and feedback that I get. And I'll see you next time on the virtual catch.
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