Vulnerability is a journey. As our trust and respect grow, we become more vulnerable with our spouse.
Yes/No: We are growing in vulnerability with one another. I can talk to them about anything.
Why Does This Issue Matter?
Without vunerability, true connection cannot take place. Vunerability is the sign that trust and respect are present in a healthy amount. They enable each spouse to lower their guard, take risks, and grow closer to one another. One of the most vunerable acts we can do is to honeslty communicate what is on our hearts. As we let go of the carefully crafted words, the partially confesional statements, and lay bare our true feelings, we allow the other person to love us well. When they are vunerable in communication with us, we have the opportunity to love them well. When a couple is not growing in vunerability, they are risking the health of their relationship.
What If You Said Yes (4 or 5 on the assessment)?
If you easily said yes regarding openly talking to your spouse about whatever is on your mind and growing in vunerability, you are walking the path of a healthy marriage. It's a process. We don't suddenly create vunerability. Instead, we slowly create the conditions in which vunerability can begin to grow. As we grow our trust and respect, we are enabled to take risks. As those risks are rewarded with closer connection, we learn to give more of ourselves to our spouses. Don't take this ability for granted. Guard it and use it. Make sure you do not handle trust and respect lightly. At the same time, use the vunerability you have created to learn more about one another, to invite the full personhood of your spouse into the light, and to grow closer to together as you love each other well.
What If You Said No (0-3 on the assessment)?
When a couple rejects this statement, it is often a sign of some other problem. Lack of vunerability is the symptom, but the disease is something else. Either, they have a lack of trust and/or respect or because of their own individual past something prevents this from being vunerable to another person. Notice, those are two radically different concepts that express themselves the same way. Understand the difference. If you have failed to grow you trust and/or respect as a couple, get to work. Either on your own, or with a professional, learn what it takes to trust one another. If, one of you has a past which prevents being vunerable with a spouse who deserves vunerability, get with a counselor to work through those issues. There is no shame in having this struggle, but there is no excuse in allowing it to continue to hinder your relationship. And I assure you, any couple who rejects the statement about vunerability is experiencing negative consequences in their marriage because of it.
Book: Happily by Kevin A. Thompson
Book: Eight Dates by John Gottman