I was twitchy all day Saturday because Jason and I had scheduled a date to “reconnect”. This meant intentional vulnerability, a state many of us love when it’s over and fear before it begins.
Sharing our soul openly with another person is an act of sheer courage. What we say can be misconstrued, rejected, lost in the other person’s point of view or belief system. Even when we sit down for an enchilada dinner with the person we love most in the world, practicing intentional vulnerability is a risky proposition.
I’m happy to say it went remarkably well. I shed a few tears, asked him to keep driving when we arrived at the restaurant because I was in full flow (and it’s easier to pour out my heart when I’m not making direct eye contact), said more than I had rehearsed but somehow it was better that way.
We’ve had a turbulent summer. New job for Jason, appendix rupture for me, far more question marks than exclamation points when it comes to where we will live and how we will solve a host of complicated problems. At the end of the day, none of that matters as much as who we are in our relationship together.
Are we kind to one another or do we take our stress out on each other? Are we considerate of what the other person needs or are we lost in our own sense of entitlement? Do we compete for who has it the worst or do we support each other in the hardest moments?
The answer, of course, is somewhere in between these extremes. To be married is to be in a constant state of flux. When one of us is calm, the other is tense. When one is confident, the other is a mess. It’s a seesaw where we do our best to balance out each other.
Jason has proven, again and again, that he is trustworthy when I open my heart to him, but every time I still feel afraid. Vulnerability is a powerful force to unite people when it works, but when it fails it feels terribly isolating and scary.
By the end of our delicious Mexican meal, we both felt closer, happier, more united. We want this season of struggle to mean something. We prefer to allow it to change us, from the inside out, so we are different as a result. Neither of us want to return to normal life without acknowledging that a significant shift has occurred.
Every time intentional vulnerability works the way it’s meant to, I’m a convert all over again. I long to grow all of my relationships in this way, but vulnerability is a two-way street. Both people have to buy in to this soul-to-soul spark.
If you tend to hold back, find a safe person and give it a try. Let yourself truly be seen for who you really are. Bring up your big fears, regrets, pain. If the other person proves worthy of this gift, you will experience a true connection that will go far above and beyond anything that skims along the surface and you’ll see how valuable intentional vulnerability can be.