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What is the one thing that sets connected couples apart from others?
It’s not just what they do per se. We’ve covered that in previous blogs. Things like:
There is something unique about connected couples. It’s how they are toward each other.
The one thing that sets connected couples apart is vulnerability. They are vulnerable with each other. When vulnerability is expressed by one, it is met with respect and compassion by the other.
Take another look at the picture above. This is what connected couples do. Yes, guys too.
Vulnerability breathes love and belongingness. It connects couples on a deeper level because it supports the free expression of self. Vulnerability is a pathway to mutual happiness.
- good communication
- mutual support
- date nights
Why is it so difficult to be vulnerable?
Here are three common barriers to vulnerability between couples.
- Pride – I don’t want to be seen as weak or imperfect
- Shame – you might not like me or judge me
- Fear – you might reject me or punish me
What do most people do about vulnerability?
- Suppress it – push feelings down, avoid expressing themselves
- Reject it – I will feel worse. It won’t work. I will be judged.
- Numb it – Brene Brown in a Ted Talk about the subject noted that addiction is a common way we numb unpleasant feelings.
Vulnerability is not easy for emotionally distant couples
- They don’t feel safe
- They don’t trust their partner
- They don’t think it will make a difference
How to Cultivate Vulnerability
Couples become vulnerable with each other in early romance. They have no problem opening up with each other. Sadly, many couples stop doing this when they settle into the relationship.
Married couples spend most of their time working, raising kids, and doing household tasks. Little time is invested in the relationship. Because the majority of their interactions are about tasks, they fight more than they love. Emotional distance sets in. Suffice it to say, it’s not easy to be vulnerable with each other.
Here are 5 ways to cultivate vulnerability.
Find a safe place to practice vulnerability
Couples counseling is one of the best settings for couples. A counselor can establish a safe setting for couples to open up and share their hearts.
Here’s another idea. Watch heart-warming movies together and talk about your reaction to the characters. Or try joining a small group that fosters close connections. You can practice opening up in a trusted group.
You can also practice vulnerability by opening up to close friends you trust to protect your privacy.
Summon your courage to be real
Fear and shame inhibit vulnerability. Courage will help you break through these barriers.
Find your center and be real. Don’t hold back. Be true to your real self.
Some people are afraid to open up because they don’t want to appear weak or be imperfect. Perfection is an illusion. Authenticity is what connects people.
Speak your truth with respect
The “keeping it real” notion of speaking the brutal truth is not effective. Vulnerability has a tone of respect.
If you need to tell your spouse or partner how you feel in the relationship, convey your truth with respect.
Listen with an open mind
Defensiveness is counterproductive to vulnerability. It will cause your partner to shut down right away. Try to understand your partner. Ask curiosity questions to deepen your understanding.
Validate the vulnerability
The perfect pairing for vulnerability is validation. It conveys an understanding of your partner and makes him or her feel supported. When you spouse is opening up to you, don’t judge or try to fix them. Simply listen and make them feel good about being vulnerable with you.
Now it’s Your Turn
How long has it been since you were vulnerable with each other? What can you do differently to make it easier for your partner to open up?