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Make the Relationship Safe for Vulnerability — Yours and Your Partner's
“How much of myself can I bring to this relationship?” “How much can I trust my partner to accept me as I really am?” Many people in relationship ask these questions. Unfortunately, the common answer is — not too much.
In many marriages and couple relationships, it isn’t safe to show that you are afraid, confused, discouraged, lonely or weak. It isn’t safe to let your partner know that you have moments of feeling overwhelmed or that you doubt your ability or, in fact, your worth.
People in such relationships put a lot of energy into not being vulnerable.Instead of being open, they are circumspect and careful about what they share. Needless to say, when people lack the trust to show vulnerability, the relationship suffers; it becomes less warm, less spontaneous — and less real than it otherwise would be.
In your relationship, how safe is it for you and your partner to show vulnerability?
If you want to make it safe for you and your partner to be more real and more spontaneous with each other, here are some steps that you can take:
* Acknowledge your own areas of vulnerability — to yourself. Hopefully, being fully acquainted with your own vulnerability will make you more accepting of your partner’s.
* Go first; set an example of openness. Experiment with being less defended yourself. For example, apologize when you are wrong. Be more ready to acknowledge when your partner has a better idea than you have.
* Be alert for undefended moments when your partner risks dropping his/her guard with you. Treat such moments with warmth and gentleness, and they will likely increase. (Treat them harshly, and you may wait a long time for your partner to be open with you again.)
* The more you acknowledge your own sensitivity to being hurt, the more alert you will be to the possibility of hurting your partner. When you do, be ready to apologize.
Small steps such as these will make it more safe for both you and your partner to be yourselves in the relationship.