Off-hand comments from family, teasing from friends, broken hearts, maybe even experiences of abuse and humiliation – these are the stones with which we build our walls for self-defense.
The mind and memory are a powerful team in protecting you from your vulnerabilities and emotional pain. Their defense mechanisms shield you from future experiences you don’t want with the people you do want to keep in your life.
The thing is, without vulnerability, you can’t maintain that trusting and loving connection you need with a life-long partner. Fortunately, if being vulnerable with your spouse (or vice-versa) is hard, there are a few techniques you can employ to allow you to be more open with one another.
Show True Interest in Your Partner’s Life
The more questions you ask, the more time you spend listening, the more you show your pride when they’ve done something exciting, the greater their trust in you becomes.
Partners who trust one another are inclined to share more. When they share more, they can’t help but feel closer. And feeling closer… well, wanting to feel closer is likely the reason you’re reading this article.
Be Supportive and Kind
An easy mistake – you ask the questions, but you’re not “present” to hear the answers. Unfortunately, if your partner opens up and you’re not really listening, you can count on having a harder road the next time you try.
Use all of your faculties to communicate. Face your partner. Look them in the eye. Truly hear them. And offer your support and kindness by not interrupting.
When you do reply, avoid sharing your own problems. You’ll have your time.
Don’t Abuse Your Partner’s Confidence
Creating a space where you and your partner can share your most intimate details is critical to connecting. We all need someone to talk to, but misusing what you learn about one another can be a fatal blow.
No judging them in the moment. No throwing out secrets while arguing later. Don’t ever joke about vulnerabilities shared. And never – never – share information imparted in confidence with anyone else.
Don’t betray that trust. It may be a permanent break.
Be the Partner You Need to Affect Change
This might be the most difficult task we encourage today. Opening up first – showing your partner how you want your relationship to work – paves the road on this two-way street.
If the reaction you receive isn’t what you want (even when it’s what you expected), share that you recognize a pattern and want to change it.
You won’t always get or give the response needed. We can promise, though, that by continuing to work together and striving to become the partnership you dream, you can affect change.
Try these easy methods for opening up your relationship. If you feel like you can’t, and don’t know the reason, it may be time to ask why.
Our Rock Solid relationship counselors can provide the marriage help you need, either as a couple or individually through a process of self-discovery and decision making about how you (and your partner) want to live your best life.
Just contact our relationship counselors Norene Gonsiewski or Tim Higdon for more information!