Marriage may be ordained of God, but that doesn’t make it easy. While couples strive to experience a bit of celestial glory in this life, it is abundantly clear that marriage is often messy and hard. One of the best ways to get through the messy and hard together is to have a vulnerable marriage.
What is vulnerability? When you are vulnerable, you are exposed and honest. You take the risk of being hurt. Vulnerability is essential to building relationships that last forever.
Here are ten ways you can create greater emotional vulnerability in your marriage.
Remember You Are Worthy
Vulnerability can only be achieved when you learn to destroy the shame inside of you. Shame tells you that you are not worthy of love or goodness. According to shame, you are inherently bad. You don’t deserve a good life. You don’t deserve to be loved. You don’t deserve a good marriage or a good marriage partner.
Remember you are worthy! No matter what you’ve done or how imperfect you may feel, you deserve love. We all need to do our best to become like Christ, but striving to earn our worth will only lead us into the adversary’s traps.
Remember Your Spouse (and Marriage) Is Worthy
Just as you are worthy of love, so is your spouse. Your spouse is imperfect, but they deserve mercy from you. Your marriage is also worthy of hard work. Vulnerability means recognizing all of the faults in your spouse and marriage, yet choosing to find the joy and love anyways. You can see your spouse for who they are and make the choice to love them every single day.
Recognize What Makes You Uncomfortable
If you feel uncomfortable about something, it is a good sign you may need to be more vulnerable in that area. You make need to talk more frankly and openly about your concerns, your desires, or your own self-esteem issues.
Vulnerability can be good when it protects us from dangerous situations. We do not want to open up before we are ready or cast out our pearls before swine. However, you can take small steps towards vulnerability by knowing what limits you need to expand and what risks to take.
Create a Safe, Spirit-Filled Space
Everyone wants to feel safe. Invite the spirit of vulnerability into any conversation you have with your spouse by creating a safe space. Make it quiet and make it calm. Go to a spot with good memories. Sit where you can hold hands or hold each other. Remove electronic devices and turn off the television.
Don’t Discuss Solutions…Yet
A good practice when you need to discuss something is to practice active listening. This often means setting solutions aside for the time being. Just take time to listen to each other. Don’t try to fix everything or fix your spouse. Don’t try to solve the problem. Simply take turns expressing your emotions and what your experience has been.
If you need, set aside parameters for your conversation before you begin. Agree to take turns and not interrupt. You can even set aside a time to discuss solutions later after you have both had time to think.
Be vulnerable and express emotion. Don’t be afraid to cry. This is especially important for men. Both men and women need to try to channel unchecked emotions. Use words to express your emotions before you become too heated or too overwhelmed. Validate the emotions of your partner.
Ask for What You Need
Sometimes it is hard to ask for what we need. Try telling your spouse some things you feel you need out of the relationship. Be willing and flexible to make changes of your own. It can be something practical, emotional, or sexual. Assure your partner of their worth as you are asking for something.
It is also important to understand that it is unrealistic for your spouse to fulfill all of your needs at all times. Take a look at your expectations and work together to find harmony.
Stay interested in your spouse. You may feel there isn’t much left to learn or now. However, we are always evolving and changing. Go on dates. Ask questions. Saying interested means you get to continually rediscover your spouse and have vulnerable conversations about your life.
Married life can be hectic! This is especially true if you have children or demanding jobs. Take time to be still. Seek out some calm and quiet. Connect with God and connect with yourself. This will keep your heart soft. Also, take time to be still with your spouse. Forget about the hustle and bustle and just be together. You can take a walk, sit together in the dark, or go for a drive. Anxiety and worry make us tense and keep us from expressing our true selves.
Pray for Help
Pray for more vulnerability in your marriage and what you can personally do to improve. Ask Christ to give you the courage you need to open your heart or to better understand your spouse. As you strive to follow the spirit, you will be inspired to know what to do to create greater vulnerability in your marriage.