There are 5 levels of communication:
1.  Cliché conversation
This is the lowest level of self-communication.  You reveal nothing about yourself and often don’t even mean what you say.
How often do we greet people in passing with: “Hi, how are you? It is so nice to see you, we must get together.” To which the reply is normally, “Yes, we should get together.”
Both parties walk away without meaning anything they said.

2.  Reporting facts about others
Much of the conversation is basically gossip. Who, what, who said what, what happened to who, etc.
When a couple communicates mainly at this level, they may have a great deal to talk about, and yet never expose their inner beings.  It is usually a safe way to avoid communication on a deeper level.

3.  Expressing ideas and judgments
When we express our opinions and views, we reveal what we think about a variety of subjects.  We express values and judgments on what is happening around us.  For instance, when a couple declares their wishes about handling a conflict situation, they are communicating at this particular level.  Some people, particularly extroverts, are always very quick to express their views and opinions, even when these views are not asked for, while others express their opinions far more cautiously.
Some people express their judgments in very general terms, so that if they are met with any disagreement they can withdraw quite easily without losing face.  At this level the individual begins to reveal something of him. Acceptance by others therefore, begins to play an important role.

4.  Sharing emotions
In each one of us there is a “real person” – the unique individual we do not often reveal to others.
You can only reveal yourself, when you share your deepest emotions and convictions.  This is the gut-level communication: sharing my hopes, my dreams, my fears, my frustrations, my ambitions – then I am revealing the things that make me tick.
“I cannot know who I am until I can tell you who I am” – Quote unknown

5.  Peak Communication
This can best be described as intimate communication, which makes two people truly one.  At such time words might be superfluous, for there is an exhilarating unity of mind, soul and spirit – where I sense that my partner thinks what I think, and feels what I feel, experiences what I experienced.
Such communion can rarely be sustained permanently; it comes periodically and can never be planned for. 
However, the more we communicate at level four, that is, the more we share our innermost feelings, the more we communicate our emotions, the more we reveal our unique selves, the more frequently we will experience these moments of intimate oneness. 

There will always be a natural decline in the level of communication, unless a couple takes active steps to maintain their communication at a high level.
If this kind of communication is so meaningful, so uplifting, so stimulating, why is there the eventual decline?

Familiarity – you assume you know your partner
The thieves of time – work, children, TV, busy lives
Conflict – the way it is handled
Self-Centeredness – focusing almost exclusively on our own interests and needs

I hope this is not going to come as a shock: Men think differently to women!
Women can do many things at once and really enjoy doing them.  They can put on makeup, talk on the phone, scold the children and listen to the radio while driving down the highway…
Men on the other hand, like to watch rugby, read the paper, and surf the internet, or talk on the phone, or talk to you – ONE THING AT A TIME! 
Ladies, in conversation with your husband, don’t bounce from one subject to the next.  Your husband tries to focus on one aspect of your conversation and bring that one to a close before moving on to another. 
Meanwhile, you are all over the place and getting frustrated when you see that glazed look in his eyes, which tells you that he is tuning you out. 
Bill and Pam Farrell wrote a book titled “Men are like waffles, and women are like spaghetti.”(Used with permission)

“We do not mean that men ‘waffle’ on all decisions and are generally unstable. What we mean is that men process life in boxes.  If you look down on a waffle you see a collection of boxes separated by walls. 
The boxes are all separate from each other and make convenient holding places.  That is typically how a man processes life.”
man’s thinking is divided up into boxes that have room for one issue and one issue only.

They continue:
Men organize every category of their life in separate boxes
Men like to spend time in the boxes they can succeed in, eg. work
Men have boxes where there are nice thoughts and memories
Men have other boxes that are blank that have no thoughts or words – thus their ability to tune out at times.

“In contrast women process life like a plate of pasta.  If you look at a plate of spaghetti, you notice that there are lots of individual noodles that will touch one another.  If you attempted to follow one noodle around the plate, you would intersect a lot of other noodles, and you might even switch to another noodle seamlessly.” 

This is how women face life:
Every thought and issue is connected to every other thought and issue in some way.
Life is much more of a process for women than for men.

“Men generally hear about your problems and instinctively want to hunt it down for a non emotional solution.”
Men just shoot the idea out of their way and then check it off the list. Done. This is so frustrating for the ladies!
Men want to solve the problem. Women only want men to listen to their problems, not solve them! Women talk about their problems and issues; they talk and talk and eventually solve their own problem – so men, let them talk.
Men get lost while women are speaking. Women are sharers. When they talk, it is just for the sake of talking, going from A to G, back to C, then to F and so on.  Men generally get lost after A, as they are trying to find a solid answer or solution, while she just wants to enjoy strolling through her thoughts.

How many times have you heard your wife say she’s told you something and for the life of you, you can’t recall ever hearing her say that? How many times did your wife get upset over something but you have no clue why? When you ask her about it she says, “oh never mind” as she stomps off!

“Women have a language of their own. It is called hinting!”
Women enjoy speaking in hints and feel frustrated when their husbands don’t understand the meaning behind what they said.
A hint is a way for a woman to tell men something without coming out and saying it.  Why should she want to do that? Because if she comes right out and says it, it ruins the outcome she desires. 
Women use hints because they want it to be your idea.  She is clueing you in on something that you could do that would mean a lot to her.
Hints might seem silly and confusing, but persistence is the secret to a fulfilling marriage.

Press on and persevere like the great knights so long ago who were determined to rescue their damsels in distress.

DR ANTHONY VAN TONDER, Specialist Marriage Counselor. Founder and CEO of Family LifeChange Centre SA. Co-Author of the ‘Step–Parenting’ and ‘How to Family and Marriage’ DVD series, with his wife Michelle. Author of the book ‘How to get your Dad Degree’, which sold more than 7000 copies. Contact: (012) 345 3245 or