Tears weren’t something that fell often in my house. This means that while growing up, I didn’t see vulnerability often. The only time I ever saw my mom cry was when her mom died, and I couldn’t have been older than seven years old. Likewise, I’ve never seen my dad cry in my entire life until date. I often wish I was in a household where we all cried while watching Titanic and talked about our feelings over dinner. In some ways, I feel it would have made me a better communicator and more comfortable with vulnerability.
As an adult, vulnerability is so hard for me. I was a timid child and was always terrified of saying what was on my mind. I suppose I can recall trying to be vulnerable once or twice by sharing intimate things with my parents. On those occasions, I didn’t quite get the warm embrace and understanding I hoped for, so I stopped doing it altogether. I tried showing vulnerability in relationships and friendships, and I found most times, I was left feeling humiliated, so I stopped.
The only place I was able to be vulnerable was within the sacred pages of my fluffy Tigger diary. I wrote down every thought I was scared of saying out loud, and I guess that’s where I developed my gift for writing. Unfortunately, over the years I’ve realized that being able to verbally express yourself is an integral part of a healthy relationship. As a result, I’ve had to cringe and stutter my way through verbally discussing sticky and ugly topics.
When I did some research into what constitutes a successful marriage, science had several things to say. A study carried out by researcher John Gottman found that how couples start tough conversations can determine how successful their relationship will be. That said, it takes vulnerability to have tough conversations. Without it, you may not be able to have a truly intimate and fulfilling relationship. Based on my journey so far, here’s why I feel you need vulnerability for a marriage to work.
It’s the Only Way to Establish Honesty
I have always been a people pleaser, and it’s something that I hated about myself. I couldn’t stand the thought of letting people down or making them unhappy. I feel like that stemmed from my fear of rejection and my need to feel liked, loved, and accepted by everyone. I didn’t realize how big of an issue this was until I got married and struggled to talk about how I HONESTLY felt about serious matters.
A good example is a time when I was becoming overwhelmed because I was shouldering most of the housework and childcare. Instead of me telling him that I was becoming emotionally drained, I kept it inside and pretended like everything was fine. I knew talking about it would make me feel vulnerable because I had to share my feelings and do so honestly. It wasn’t until things got really difficult that I realized that I was hurting more than helping my relationship by not allowing myself to be vulnerable and by not telling MY truth out of fear.
Sometimes, speaking your truth makes you feel vulnerable. You’re telling people exactly how you feel and what you think without the sprinkles on top. However, in doing so, you liberate yourself and also send a message to your partner that you trust them enough to share your most intimate thoughts and feelings. Doing this gives you the chance to experience a greater level of intimacy in your relationship.
It’s the Only Way to Establish Trust
I find it hard to trust people with my vulnerability. The first thing that happens when I think about falling apart in front of anyone is that they won’t help me pick up my pieces. I’m afraid of feeling embarrassed, humiliated and rejected when I allow myself to be vulnerable with people. So I refrain from doing it. Playing it safe has saved me so much pain. But it also means that I haven’t been able to experience the enchanting feeling of deep connections and unconditional love because I’m too guarded.
Marriage has taught me that the true test of trust is vulnerability. If I can’t show you the most distorted version of myself, then I don’t trust you. And if I don’t trust you, there isn’t much glue holding us together. If you sneeze- BOOM! I’m on my way out and googling how to get through a divorce.
With that being said, if you want to divorce-proof your relationship, take gradual steps towards being vulnerable and let your partner see you in your most humiliating states. Your marriage could be better because of it.
It’s the Only Way to Experience Deep Love
If you ever want to transcend past this surface-level love to that married 50 plus years, still writing cheesy marriage poems and smitten love, you’ve got to learn to be vulnerable. 21stcentury love isn’t vulnerable. It either packs its bags and leaves at the sight of vulnerability or breaks under the pressure of it all.
And perhaps that is why our love isn’t lasting and why it isn’t immovable. Because nobody wants to be vulnerable and nobody wants to be naked. After undressing halfway, you find that most couples are filing for divorce and posting sad marriage poems on social media.
I understand firsthand that you don’t want to be vulnerable because what if it breaks you? Well, yes it might. But it may also recreate you. The vulnerability that petrifies you could be the key to you experiencing a love that surpasses your human understanding. Without vulnerability in your marriage, you’ll only ever experience surface-level love. Nothing that sets your soul on fire.
Say things that make you cringe, write your lover marriage poems, prioritize your love over being right, and be okay with being uncomfortable some days.
Because Successful Marriages Require Courage
Some of the greatest love stories in history are so epic because two people had the courage to let the other person into their forbidden place. They had the courage to throw caution to the wind and lose themselves in love.
To be courageous is to live, and to feel and to experience and to love. Let’s face it, in order to commit to staying married to someone forever, you’re going to need a shitload of courage.
SOooo in Conclusion….
In marriage, you get to a point where if you aren’t vulnerable, and you don’t strip yourself bare, you break. You have to speak the things that make your palms sweaty. You’ve got to come face to face with the toxic things your parents taught you that are now damaging your relationship. You’ve got to confront all of your demons and this requires vulnerability.
Marriage then ultimately becomes about you working to change those things, but you don’t get to do that alone. You do it with the person you’ve committed to spending the rest of your life with. They watch you struggle, they watch you fall, and sometimes they watch you fail. But the test of marriage is evolving into a better version of yourself and still being together when you get to the finish line.
To be vulnerable is to be courageous. And to be courageous is to be fucking super human. Ultimately, when you’re vulnerable you’ll experience a magic in love that you never imagined existed.
How do you deal with vulnerability in marriage or your relationship? Let’s talk about it in the comments!