So many of the problems in my relationship could have been completely avoided had I not been so terrified of being vulnerable. Time and time again, I heard people say that “communication is key”. I was communicating to my husband alright.. my complaints, criticisms, and disappointments. I had NO IDEA how to communicate in a healthy, self-honoring, and dignified way. In order to do that, I had to learn how to access my vulnerability, and then have the courage to express it.
Vulnerability was the Intimacy Skill I struggled with the most for many years. I was so afraid to let my husband see who I really was because I was terrified he wouldn’t like what he saw. I desperately wanted to avoid rejection. I had a deep rooted belief that the real me was not really lovable. So I had to hide and protect her.
I hid her under a cover of anger, defensiveness, and sarcasm. Needless to say, I accomplished my unconscious goal of keeping my husband from ever really understanding or knowing me. I kept a wide berth between us. No wonder I felt so lonely, unseen, and unheard. I had created the lonely life I had been trying to avoid. My husband couldn’t make me happy because I didn’t let him know how he ever could. I couldn’t ever feel fully loved by him because I was hiding the deepest and truest parts of myself.
Learning the skill of vulnerability knocked down all the walls I had spent years building between my husband and I. It also had an unexpected and even more powerful result. Vulnerability was the skill that taught me to really love myself for the first time in my life. I learned the joy that comes from standing in your truth and knowing that you are still loved. In fact, even more-so!
These are 5 ways to be vulnerable with your husband..
Honoring Your Limits
I once had my sisters over at my house for my birthday “cleaning party”. We were playing music and cleaning my house to ring another year (I’m wild, I know!).
My husband called me from work and asked me to bring his forgotten cell phone. I was about to say “okay” when I realized I already had some resentment bubbling up. I was going to have to pause my cleaning birthday party to drive 45 minutes to drop off his phone so he could play games on it during work.
Instead of going down that familiar path where I dropped everything to come to his rescue, I tuned into how I felt and decided to honor my limits. I told him I couldn’t just then, and I would drop it off when I was done with my cleaning party.
He wasn’t too happy to hear that, but I stood my ground. I knew that rescuing him would sacrifice the intimacy and respect between us because it wouldn’t be self-honoring. His irritation wore off by the time he came home that evening and I was on an emotional high after enjoying a wonderful birthday with my sisters. We reconnected and all was well!
Communicating What You Love
This is a big one. Our husbands can only make us happy when they know what does it for us. For so long, I assumed that it should be obvious how to make me happy and I didn’t need to say it.
Of course I want to be passionately kissed, appreciated for all I do, and receive help, gifts, and compliments! Duh!
Asking for these things takes the magic away. I know for example, that I want my husband to kiss me passionately because he can’t resist, not because I ask him. However, when he does kiss me, I can smile and tell him how special he makes me feel when he does that. Now that will inspire him to do it more. The same goes for when he cleans up the kitchen for me. I can tell him how much I love that he cleaned and that he makes me feel like a queen.
Telling him what I love gives him the important information he needs if he’s going to have a chance at being the hero he wants to be for me.
Digging Beneath the Anger
When in relation to our husbands, underneath anger is always pain. It is much easier to react with anger because it is strong and masks the pain that we feel. It's natural to want to protect our “weakness”.
Showing when we are hurt takes a lot of courage. It is much easier to get angry, or laugh it off and pretend it was nothing. However, accessing the pain is much more honest, self-honoring, and dignified. It also preserves intimacy because you are not participating in an argument or saying anything disrespectful. You can accomplish this by saying a simple, “ouch” when he says or does something that hurts your feelings.
Saying “ouch” will teach him how to treat you. Since he will not feel attacked in return, he will be forced to face the fact that he just hurt the feelings of the woman he loves. There will be no defensive response for him to try to use as justification. You may even get an apology.
Allowing Him to Witness Your Truth
When I had our second child, I started to feel afraid that I wasn’t spending enough time with our first. She seemed less interested in me and I was really sad about it. I didn’t share this with my husband because I was afraid he would think I was being a bad mom.
One day, I couldn’t hold it in anymore and I let my tears flow. He comforted me and suggested I go out on a weekly “date” with our first child. I felt so much better! The fear that I had that he would think I was a bad mom had been completely irrational.
I learned that allowing my husband to really know the truth of how I’m feeling (as long as it's not a complaint about him) creates space for deeper intimacy between us.
Being Freely and Unapologetically Yourself
I love to dance. Growing up, it was a nightly routine that after dinner, my sisters and I would play music and dance while cleaning up the kitchen. For some reason, this ended when I got married and moved in with my husband. For years, I would soberly tidy the kitchen.
I realized I missed the spark I used to have when I was with my sisters. When I really thought about it, I realized I used to love dancing with my sisters because I felt so safe with them. They had seen the best and the worst of me and they still loved me. I could be free with them.
I didn’t feel this sense of safety with my husband. I was afraid that if he saw me dancing in the kitchen, he would think I was weird, uncoordinated, or embarrassing. I wanted to be free with him too. I wanted him to see a side of me he had never seen, and that was undeniably a part of me. So one day, I made the decision to be free with him.
I turned on some music and started dancing in the kitchen. My daughter and son joined me! And guess what… so did my husband!
What are you holding back because you are not sure it can be loved?
I hope you are inspired to stretch and try on the skill of vulnerability.
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