Intimacy Now!

by Marinka on January 2, 2009

So on New Year’s Eve while my parents and inlaws were debating whether Dick Clark was still alive or was computer generated, I decided to focus on self-improvement and read Oprah Magazine’s relationship tune ups. It was the same ole—give and take, communication is important nonsense, but then I reached this golden nugget on how to get closer to your partner.

Try the one minute drill. One person starts as the Talker, the other is the Listener. The Talker (your husband, let’s say) expresses anything that’s on his mind for 30 seconds while you give him your full attention, without interrupting, agreeing or disagreeing. The idea is to sharpen your listening skills, so after 30 seconds you summarize what he said and he grades your response, from 0 to 100 percent, based on how accurate it is. If the grade is below 95, he points out what you missed or got wrong and you repeat the exercise until he gives you at least 95. Now switch roles. Almost immediately, says Burns, communication between you will improve.

Does this seem like a good idea to anyone except the immediate members of the Burns family? I read it to mama and she said “there are a lot of sick, crazy people out there.”

The problem with the whole grading thing is that if you’re me, even if the person delivers verbatim what I said, I will give them an 87.5%, because of presentation or something. Having that 95 or above requirement there is just asking for trouble, if you ask me. It’s too tempting to fuck with them.
The next morning I read it to Husbandrinka.
“Want to try it?” I asked.
“No,” he said. “I don’t have any problems communicating. When people talk me to me, I pay attention and listen. You’re the one who doesn’t pay attention and exaggerates everything.”
“You feel that you are a good communicator and that you listen when people talk to you. You further feel that I do not pay attention and exaggerate everything.”
“Yeah, I didn’t talk for a full thirty seconds.” He is refusing to give me my 100.
“Really? Because it felt like you talked for 30 hours.”
We are closer already. And by “we”, I mean his hands and my neck.

One year ago ...

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{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

Comedy Goddess January 2, 2009 at 6:27 pm

That was a very funny interpretation of a very stupid Oprah couples/self help article. I prefer to live like she does: unmarried, eat too much, get paid way too much money. Although I differ greatly on the money part. No one is handing me a huge paycheck right now.


marathon mom January 2, 2009 at 6:30 pm

My husband is a people pleaser so, for 30 seconds he would blabber on random shit because he would want to cover all the bases so he could please. Then I would want to stab my eyes out.


blognut January 2, 2009 at 6:46 pm

Listen? Repeat back? Hell, if he wants that, he can pay a therapist for it! Besides, I already KNOW what my husband’s gonna say!


Frogs in my formula January 2, 2009 at 7:48 pm

Hah. You always crack me up. When I mention the word “talk” lately my husband’s eyes glaze over. It’s like Pavlov’s dog.


Heather, Queen of Shake Shake January 2, 2009 at 7:56 pm

Fuck that Oprah shit.

While my huz is grading me on my listening skills, I’m also going to grade him on his interesting conversation skills.

As you probably know (ha!), I could repeat back everything my husband said and score 100%. IF what he said was worth 100% of my attention.


Irish Gumbo January 2, 2009 at 8:04 pm

Why not just give each other a really smart parrot, or a mynah bird? Same effect, less hassle!


ShallowGal January 2, 2009 at 8:20 pm

Wait. I have to listen to my husband talk for 30 entire seconds? Pass.

xoxo, SG


Andy January 2, 2009 at 8:48 pm

hahaha oh Oprah, stop trying to help all of us. Help us help you instead.


Sophie, Inzaburbs January 2, 2009 at 9:48 pm

I am sure my marriage is based on not listening to each other half the time. If we did always listen, wouldn’t we quickly run out of things to talk about?
Also, regular discussions about the various forms of not-listening only add to the topics of conversation.
This is why you are always breaking up on the cover of the National Enquirer, Oprah – you don’t understand what is clearly a win-win situation…


phd in yogurtry January 2, 2009 at 10:04 pm

It’s called “mirroring” and what I’ve always dreaded, if I were to be foolish enough to practice this with my spouse, is that he would spend the full 30 seconds telling me about the Dallas Cowboys game or why the Big 12 Conference dominates colegiate football. There is no effing way I could listen to 5 seconds of that.


Kirsten / Mama Ginger Tree January 2, 2009 at 11:02 pm

Dick Clark is totally computer generated.


ella January 2, 2009 at 11:17 pm

Hi, I just found your blog tonight and I have to say: Finally! I found my people!
I hope it’s ok to link to you, cuase, ummm, I already did.


Rick January 3, 2009 at 12:32 am

Hello Miranka, Please forgive me for being so bold, but I am doing a bit of blog surf to invite people to sign up for my giveaway. There are no gimmicks. This is just my way of celebrating two years of blogging. On January 4th I am giving away a free caricature drawn by me. I’d be honored if you came by and signed up for a chance to win.


anymommy January 3, 2009 at 3:20 am

These exercises are ridiculous relationship ruiners. You nailed it. M and I agreed early in my SAHM career that the words ‘Oprah says’ should never, ever cross my lips. Now that was a relationship builder!


Vodka Mom January 3, 2009 at 5:43 am

Yep, there are a LOT os sick people in the world. And they’re the ones trying to fix US.

LOL. YOu are TOO damn funny.


Beth January 3, 2009 at 5:50 am

Despite what my husband says, I have no problems listening to him. He is the one with the problem.

But I’ve found that I can get him to listen when I provide visuals. All I have to do is undress and he really begins to listen.

The downside to this is that it has scarred the children.


Cindy January 3, 2009 at 6:18 am

Ok, I burned my throat swallowing my coffee!
I love to see when you have a post up. I know I’m going to have a good laugh:)


Jeanne January 3, 2009 at 6:22 am

To compound the “not paying attention” issue, my husband and I both have some hearing damage. The single word most often uttered in our house is, “What???”


lisa January 3, 2009 at 6:22 am

i thought the silent treatment was the key to a good marriage.


Madge January 3, 2009 at 6:31 am

my husband would just stare at me for 30 seconds and then tell me it was stupid.

i would probably stare back at him for 30 seconds and then agree with him..

oprah will not be calling us for advice anytime soon….


mo.stoneskin January 3, 2009 at 7:26 am

It’s not THAT bad an idea. We tried a similar thing after going on a (yep, I know what you’re thinking) marriage course. Person A is the talker, Person B responds by confirming the essence of Person A’s rant. Person A confirms Person B’s understanding. Person B asks intelligent questions…and so on…

It did show me what a bad listener I am. I like to nod and grunt but my crazy mind is off in the land of, well, the land of anything really, anything but.


butwhymommy January 3, 2009 at 8:18 am

I’m pretty sure that my husband and I would have that exact conversation ending in almost the exact manner except I would have hit him upside the head.


Laura January 3, 2009 at 8:43 am

The intention of the test is not to test communication as in do you understand what I mean honey, but rather to test hearing, as in does he hear bell and not hell or yell. Yes, it’s to show your concern for your partner’s health, not if they know how you feel.


Irish Gumbo January 3, 2009 at 10:23 am

I’m still trying to get my head around that post from Thursday… man that was effed up!

Marinka, thank you so much for the follow. I have enjoyed your blog so far, and I look forward to more (albeit bizarre) stuff! It’s a pleasure to have you on the IG bus!



Domestic Goddess (In Training) January 3, 2009 at 10:46 am

I decided some years ago that Oprah is the devil and Dr. Phil and her best friend famous for no real reason (whose name I cannot even remember because she has no real value) are her minions. My advice – skip the O Magazine as a whole before they hook you too!!!


Lana January 3, 2009 at 11:22 am

I have an award for you on my blog!


Maggie May January 3, 2009 at 12:12 pm

hee haw:)


SCREAMING FOR CHOCOLATE January 3, 2009 at 12:19 pm

OMG…Marinka that is too damn funny.



Imogen Lamport January 3, 2009 at 1:20 pm

I’m glad to see the my relationship is not the only one that wouldn’t benefit from this – I prefer to live in the land of don’t communicate at all – what is so great about communication?


rightonmom January 3, 2009 at 1:21 pm

Your mama is right. Crazy ass people out there. And isn’t Dick Clark dead already?


Insta-mom January 3, 2009 at 5:07 pm

30 WHOLE seconds of undivided attention?! My marriage is doomed.


Deb January 3, 2009 at 7:44 pm

Oprah blows. Why yes, I do keep buying her magazine. I read that article too. I give her a 1%

You rock. Happy New Year.


Braja January 3, 2009 at 9:35 pm

I’d like to have lunch with your mother.


adlibby January 3, 2009 at 10:19 pm

was the article, by any chance, penned by a divorce lawyer?!

Here’s a thought — maybe the couples who pass this test have just gotten good at avoiding conflict. My husband would know that if he gave me less than a 98% I’d hit him over the head with a frying pan. Therefore he’d lie — doesn’t that make for great communication?


Threeboys1mommy January 4, 2009 at 12:08 am

What did you say?

My husband and I are that kind of close. That’s how we do PDA 😉


Marinka January 4, 2009 at 6:39 am

Sophie–that’s an excellent point! I think that you should write a counter-article for Oprah.

Phd–Couldn’t “mirroring” easily slip into “mimicking”? Too dangerous.


the mama bird diaries January 4, 2009 at 9:54 pm

Is Oprah still putting herself on that god damn magazine every single month? Share the wealth lady.


Kristine January 5, 2009 at 11:17 am

This is nearly as bad an idead as when my youth counselors at church (who were married) said that when they argued they would hold hands, so as to remember that the loved each other. And even then I knew that one of the couple would be squeezing the crap out of the other one, it just asks for trouble.


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