Is It Okay To Be Vulnerable In A Relationship?

Is vulnerability a recipe for getting hurt or does it build trust in a marriage?

Today, we had a delightful radio interview with a Los Angeles station to promote our new book, How to Marry the Right Guy. During the course of the interview the host ask us to share with him "the one thing" that is essential to all great marriages. There is no equivocation about the answer.

Trust is at the heart of all great marriages. When you fall in love, trust in the one you love becomes the very foundation of that relationship.  Successfully married couples literally trust each other with their lives, their sacred honor, and with your very being.

Now, here's the essence of this message—the best marriages we have discovered around the world over these past 32 years of research understand the importance that vulnerability plays in the ongoing development of trust within their heartfelt and loving relationship. A marriage between two human beings is a complex entity. Make no mistake about that. And here's the truth—marriages do not start out great, they grow over time. How, you ask?

Vulnerability is the answer! People who trust each other completely are willing to be vulnerable with each other—they are willing "let their hair down" with each other. They are willing to be totally honest with each other. They are completely and utterly willing to share their true feelings with each other. The strength of great marriages begins with open, honest, and truthful communication. 

And like nearly all of the most happily and successfully married couples we have interviewed around the world, they understand that sharing their true feelings, opinions, and assessments with each other, is the absolute and necessary prerequisite to building a love that lasts a lifetime. So where does vulnerability come into the equation? When you allow yourself to be vulnerable with another human being you are expressing your trust in them to not betray you, make fun of you, ignore you, or minimize you.

To be vulnerable in a loving relationship is to be open, receptive, sensitive, and willing to shut down personal defenses in order to engage in honest communication. Only through non-defensive and open exchanges of information do people in love truly begin to grow their love and trust for each other. Let's face it, vulnerability is not a dirty word when it comes to love and marriage.

When you are willing to be vulnerable with someone you purport to love, you have reached the nirvana of your relationship. It is clear from our research that being willing to be vulnerable with the one you love is a necessary pre-condition for the creation of a strong and lasting loving relationship. And, trust is the prerequisite to being willing to be vulnerable in your relationship with the one you love.

Let us be bold—marriages do not grow and thrive without trust and without the willingness of the respective partners to allow themselves to be vulnerable with each other. Great marriages begin with trust and the willingness to be vulnerable. Positive growth within great marriages begins with simple notions. Mutual trust and vulnerability are the essential components of great marriages. If these two components don’t describe your relationship, reconsider it. The evidence from around the world is overwhelming and compelling.

You can grow trust and vulnerability in your relationship by spending a few minutes each week talking about what really matters and what makes you feel more secure using questions similar to those in the couples’ sharing exercise included in How to Marry the Right Guy.

By Drs. Charles and Elizabeth Schmitz: America's #1 Love and Marriage Experts

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