In the following blog post from The Huffington Post, Terry Gaspard, MSW, LICSW, reveals the pivotal role of vulnerability in sustaining a marriage:
In my over 20 years of counseling couples, I’ve come to realize that vulnerability is the key to a lasting union and that shame and fear are two of the main reasons why couples get entrenched in power struggles that can lead to divorce. Opening up to our partner can make us feel vulnerable and exposed, but it is the most important ingredient of a trusting, intimate relationship. One of the biggest challenges that couples face is being vulnerable with a romantic partner. After all, with over 40 percent of adults growing up in a divorced family, healthy templates for intimacy may have been in short supply. In other cases, many of us were raised in homes where showing vulnerability was seen was a weakness.
What drives our fear of being vulnerable? Dr. Brene Brown, a distinguished author and researcher, informs us that vulnerability is often viewed as a weakness, but it’s actually a strength. In her landmark book Daring Greatly, she explains that vulnerability is the core of all emotions and feelings. She writes, “To feel is to be vulnerable. To believe that vulnerability is a weakness is to believe that feeling is a weakness. To foreclose on our emotional life out of fear that the costs will be too high is to walk away from the very thing that gives purpose and meaning to living.”
In Daring Greatly, Dr. Brown defines vulnerability as uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure. Given this definition, the act of loving someone and allowing them to love you may be the ultimate risk. Love is uncertain. It’s risky because there are no guarantees and your partner could leave you without a moment’s notice — or betray you or stop loving you. In fact, exposing your true feelings may mean that you are at greater risk for being criticized or hurt.