There are so many things we learn about cultivating love in marriage by observing the relationship of those around us. However, I personally have not seen many relationships that could teach me the power of raw emotions. Vulnerability in marriage, for me, means to let your guards down and share your emotions with your spouse. What we see around us is usually people reacting instead of sharing the raw emotions that they feel deep down. Everyone says that communication is very important in a relationship, but we are not taught what healthy communication looks like or how to communicate our feelings in a way for them to be actually understood by the other person.
Also, how we choose to communicate determines the response we get from our spouse. What we say and how we say it could either bring out empathy and kindness in our partner or defensiveness. I have learned over time that communicating effectively and creating a healthy pattern of discussions in your relationship early on can save you from unnecessary arguments and conflicts down the road.
Learning to express my raw emotions and vulnerability to my spouse took some time and practice, but once learned, you see so many positive changes. Sharing what you truly feel can deflate any argument (or prevent an argument) and allow the other person to put their guards down to listen as well. We all want to be heard and understood, but unfortunately, what we usually see is people starting with a tone of blame and fault picking. When we share our thoughts in that manner, the other person shuts down.
It is very hard for both partners to feel compassion for one another when the choice of words or tone is making the other feel horrible about themselves. As a teacher, I always try to practice the "sandwich strategy" when communicating with parents because I do not want them to feel that I am attacking or blaming them. I really want them to hear my concerns with an open mind and be cooperative. So, the sandwich strategy is
1. Start with positive feedback (appreciation etc)
2. Mention your concern
3. End with positive feedback
It works wonders. Going back to raw emotions, in other words, they are the primary emotions we feel in a situation before we cover them up with other thoughts and feelings. Raw emotions are not your reactions. If we do not reflect, it is so easy to fall into becoming reactionary. Reactions stop us from building a deeper connection. Raw emotions are as easy as saying
“I love it when you bring me chai in the morning.”
“I miss you when you are away.”
“I really need you right now because work is stressful.”
“I need a hug.”
“I need your shoulder.”
“I feel sad/upset when you say this.”
“I am scared."
"Sitting beside you even when we are quiet makes me feel calm."
"I love it when you listen to my concerns."
"You make me so happy."
"I need help with ..."
Yes, it sounds easy, but they are not easy for everyone to say. I have seen people who find it easy to say "You never call me", "You never ask how I am," You don't visit me." Rather than simply saying "I miss you." Seeing the difference can drastically change our relationships. We can take small steps and learn to reflect before we speak because our feelings are valid and our relationships are precious. Once we learn to become considerate and find the balance in both (our emotions and our relationships), we'll see the happiness that is hidden beneath.
What have you learned through your relationship's trial and errors?=)