They won’t make all your problems go away. But they will make them easier, and your relationship stronger.
“Relationships are complicated. Relationships aren’t worth it. Relationships are overrated. Relationships are too much work.”
I’m sure at some point in our lives, we’ve either heard these phrases from someone we know or even had them come out of our very own mouth. I believe I have a simple recipe for making a relationship work. I believe relationships only really need two things to thrive and to be the “Everafter” story we all crave. Honesty and vulnerability.
Without those two things, your relationship will fail. I promise you that. Now, I know you might be getting a bit worked up. You might be thinking things like: What about the fact my wife won’t have sex with me anymore? I have to work all the time to support my family. We have a special needs son and it’s really taking a toll on our love life and personal time.
I’m not dismissing those things at all. Life is tough and we’ll all have our own personal struggles and demons to handle. Yet, I’m not talking about those things right now. I’m talking about your relationship with your significant other. Make your world a little bit smaller and just focus on the person you fell in love with. That’s who I’m talking about right now. If you and your significant other have a solid relationship built on these two principles, all the other problems your relationship will face won’t necessarily go away, but they will become easier.
It’s the same concept as stretching before a big workout or run. Stretching isn’t necessarily going to get you into the physical shape you want to be in, but it’s going to make that transition smoother. Building a relationship on the foundation of honesty and vulnerability will allow you to get through those rough patches or bad fights much more smoothly than you would otherwise.
Forgive me for being cheesy, but stretch your souls together. Open up in a way to your partner that you’ve never opened up to anyone before. If you have something that you think your partner should know, but you just feel that there’s no way you could tell them because it’s too scary, it’s too risky—my friend, that’s the thing you need to tell them. Be honest and be vulnerable.
I have a close friend who recently just told me that he and his girlfriend got into a rather nasty argument over her shoes taking up way too much space in the closet (stereotypical relationship.) He said he expressed this to her and his girlfriend’s response was that it didn’t bother her that much, so she didn’t really understand what the big deal was about.
My friend proceeded to push forward in an aggressive manner and the next thing you know, they had a stage three fight on their hands. He told me it got as bad is it possibly could. So after we talked some more he admitted to me that he knew he took it a little too far, but he remembers as a kid how he would express his concerns about his needs to his parents and much like his girlfriend just did, they would dismiss them.
This is Where Honesty and Vulnerability Come In
So I responded, “Well did you tell your girlfriend this?”
He said no, that the fight had gotten so bad that by the time he even figured any of this out, it was too late. I told him, that I thought he should go back and tell her what triggered him. We bickered back and forth for a moment.
“She won’t understand,” he said. “You don’t know until you say it,” I replied.
Finally he said, “OK, I’ll tell her, but save a spot on the couch for me.”
Fast forward one week later, I’m talking to the same friend and I asked him how the conversation went. He tells me it was wonderful. He opened up to his girlfriend about how he really felt about the situation and you know what she did? She opened up and told him that she responded the way she did because he never once talked about the situation in a peaceful manner. He was always aggressive. She told him that she once dated a man who was verbally aggressive towards her and whenever he acted like that, it just sent her back to those days, which made her defensive.
How Do You Build a Relationship On Honesty and Vulnerability?
I would love to tell you that you should wait for you partner to be the first one to open up. Except that’s not true—you need to be the first one to open up.
That’s not fair you say. Why can’t they open up first? That’s beside the point. The point is that you want a healthy relationship with the person you love, right? If you don’t, then stop reading. If you do, then yes, you need to be the first one to initiate it, even if it makes you feel uncomfortable. That’s what true vulnerability looks like and only by someone seeing what true vulnerability looks like, can they reflect the same back to you.
Don’t be scared, you love this person after all. You wouldn’t be with them if you didn’t think a part of them has seen your true soul and loves you. So why should you be scared? Tear down those walls you’ve built over the years and allow that person to come in, not in a fake way, but in a genuine, heart wrenching, uncomfortable way. True vulnerability.
Being honest and vulnerable isn’t easy, that’s why a lot of people don’t do it. I won’t say that this is the only way to do it. But it’s the way I do it and I hope it can help you.
How to Build Honesty
That’s a scary word that most people don’t like to talk about. What does true honesty look like? Everyone everyday lies at some point. Either to others or to themselves. The way I practice honesty in my relationship is if I think it’s something my partner should know, but I have that little doubt in the back of my mind that says it’s not a big deal, I tell her. I run to her and tell her. Don’t allow those thoughts to manifest and stay in your mind. Remember, little lies to your partner eventually turn into big lies and then turn into plain dysfunction and heartache.
How to Build Vulnerability
This one’s a little tougher to identify, it can easily be mistaken with honesty. But it is different. This one is probably the hardest for anybody. Anytime someone has been vulnerable in their life, it’s possible that they have also been hurt the deepest, which is why most people do their damn hardest to protect themselves from it. Vulnerability is cloaked in shame most of the time. Don’t be ashamed of your wounds, past scars. Wear them proudly, we all have them and show your partner it, I’m willing to bet they’ll show you theirs.
I do stand-up comedy in my spare time (this article is hilarious!) The one thing I can tell you about doing stand-up is that it forces me to be vulnerable, here I am with these jokes no one’s ever heard, going in front of a group of complete strangers, baring my creative soul. In simple terms, that shit is scary, but it’s freeing and easily the best thing I do all week. It creates a strength inside of me that no one can take away from me. I don’t care if I fail on stage, I bared my soul to people and that’s all I crave.
Stand on the stage of your relationship, day after day, week after week, and bare your soul to your partner. It will strengthen your relationship in a way you never thought possible. Being vulnerable may allow people to hurt you somewhere deep, but it also allows you to be loved in the deepest way possible and that my friends, is worth it, every single time.