A couple of weeks ago we started a series on the subject of “Emotional Nakedness.” One of the big lingering questions after our first couple of posts was, “How do we grow in emotional nakedness?” Today we want to offer a few suggestions.
1. Start small. If it has been awhile since you and your spouse have had discussions about things of a very personal nature then start small. We published the 30 Day Challenge last week and it is a list of 30 questions to discuss with your spouse. The questions are designed to start off easy and get progressively more personal. We don’t touch on deeper issues right away as the questions are meant to reconnect you on a friendship level first.
2. Go first. If you are hesitant to be emotionally naked in front of your spouse, they will sense just that. When you are guarded your spouse will not want to display their faults, their weaknesses, or their hidden secrets. By going first, you are telling them that you want to be vulnerable and you want to be known in a deeper way. The added benefit of airing your junk first is that after you share you are more able to extend grace and understanding to your spouse because you realize just how much you need.
3. Listen. The greatest skill in communication is learning to really listen. Listening without reacting, interrupting or judging are important steps in emotional nakedness. What often happens is a spouse confesses or shares a struggle but quickly learns by way of poor reaction, judgement and/or condemnation that it is unsafe to be that open in marriage. Emotional shutdown occurs because it is apparently easier to stuff all the emotions than deal with the fallout that happens with emotional honesty. In order to really listen to your spouse you must focus on them and not yourself. All relationships require putting selfishness aside in order to hear and accept others where they are at rather than filtering what they say through our own selfish desires for them.
4. Remember love. Marriages are a test of true love because the marriage relationship puts us in a context where we can truly live it out. We all naturally react in selfishness, self preservation and self awareness. (Did you catch how natural it is to think about yourself?) The thing about marriage is that it is not designed as a mere propagation of self, it is designed in such as way that two become one. It is no longer what “I” want but what “We” want. It is not about personal desires but about putting someone else’s needs first. It is during these times that we need to truly practice love as choice rather than love as feeling.
Do you have any additional thoughts on emotional connection? Feel free to let us know in the comments below.
Linking to: Alabaster Jar Marriage Monday