Vulnerability in Marriage Webinar
We know the more vulnerable we can be in our marriages, the more connected and fulfilled we will be. Yet, how do you practice vulnerability in marriage? This webinar looks at how the characteristics of knowing, trust, safety, and consistency can have an impact on our level of vulnerability. Learn more as you watch Katie Miller, Kaleb Beyer, and Arlan Miller discuss this important topic and share practical examples for all couples on this webinar recording.
Welcome to our marriage webinar on Vulnerability in Marriage. I am joined with Kaleb Beyer from our office here. He is our marriage and family therapist, and I am joined by Katie Miller, also from our office. She is one of our teachers, and in full disclosure, she also happens to be my wife. So we have the joy to work together in multiple settings here at ACCFS.
My name is Arlan Miller, and we’re gonna walk through this important topic together. Thanks for being with us. Now, let’s just start off with this question. Okay. This topic probably seems like a no-brainer. Of course we wanna talk about vulnerability. Vulnerability seems like a good idea. What is vulnerability? What is vulnerability? Katie, we’ll start with you. Help us understand this. How would you describe this idea of vulnerability in marriage?
Yeah, I would say when I think about vulnerability just individually before I get to the marriage relationship, I would say vulnerability is I want people to be vulnerable with me, and yet reciprocating that to someone else is really tricky. So, in Katie Miller’s definition, vulnerability is hard. It’s not comfortable. And it’s gonna show my flaws. Dictionary.com’s definition is up there in the screen in front of you about showing emotion or allowing one’s weaknesses to be seen or known. And so when I think of relationships or I think of individually, yes, I want people to be vulnerable with me. I want them to be truly who they are, and yet that’s really hard for me as a person to think about. Showing my weaknesses, showing those emotions that show really my true heart and nature and who I am. When you take it into a marriage relationship, it’s an even more intimate and more committed depth. And I think what Kaleb and I’ll hopefully and Arlan will show you today or help you teach through some of these concepts is some of those weaknesses can actually be for the better.
Sure. So, there’s a level of exposure here. We’re talking about how well do we know each other, show emotion and allows one weakness to be seen and known it’s easier to maybe to hide beneath the surface. When we talk about that intimate relationship of marriage, that becomes a really interesting scenario if you find yourself hiding or not open. But Kaleb, I suppose there’s a level that can go too far with vulnerability or I suppose we can, there’s things that we might think are vulnerability but maybe aren’t. Can you shine some light on that? What is vulnerability not. Yeah. Or any thoughts in that area?
Sure. So, yeah. So we wouldn’t say that vulnerability is letting go of healthy, realistic relationship expectations that maintain a level of safety within the relationship. And so vulnerability isn’t the purpose of vulnerability, ultimately is deeper connection.
And so it’s not even, in some sense, I would say that even as we look at broader, you know, culture in some ways vulnerability can be used in some ways as a purpose to bring praise to self, if that makes sense. And, really what we’re talking about vulnerability here, healthy vulnerability move, the purpose is actually deeper connection but it’s not giving up. It’s not giving up important aspects of boundaries, healthy boundaries within relationship within the marriage specifically. So it’s not saying, oh, be okay with someone, you know, yelling at you, for example, because they’re just being vulnerable or they’re just being honest and real.
That’s not appropriate. And I would say the other thing, Arlan, that comes here I think is just really helpful to make a distinction, is to say, you know, as Katie was talking about it, we are vulnerable. So vulnerability is accepting what we already are. I mean, you just think about Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. But it’s not a weakness. It’s rather accepting the weakness that’s already there. Okay? So, vulnerability is not weakness, and sometimes it can feel that way, or we have that perception that it is.
That definition speaks to that cable. It’s not the, you know, a weakness is a weakness, but it’s a vulnerability is allowing that to be seen or to be known. And so that’s kind of gonna be the preface going into today’s content, I would say. That’s a very good point.
And I really like what you said there. I think that’s a critical piece. It should lead towards connection, right? So vulnerability leads towards connection a little bit. It’s not selfish in nature. It is selfless in nature, willing to kind of remove maybe, I mean, there’s some pride and some ego that couldn’t be there that keeps us from being vulnerable. It’s willing to remove that, to lose ourself in the sake, or for the name of greater connection with someone else. Now, specifically we’re talking about with our spouse here in this context.
So, Katie, this is a graphic that we’ve used before. Yeah, so you have different aspects here. You wanna speak a little bit to this graphic, how we’re gonna walk through it. This graphic was created with a multiple of ways. Obviously you’re looking at four words that throughout the next several minutes, we will go through. Now these four words are not meant to be all inclusive, like to be vulnerable. These four are present and I’ve got true vulnerability. Okay? These are just four components that we feel to be vulnerable in a healthy way, in a marriage relationship probably need to be present. And you’ll notice the diagram there. There’s a lot of overlapping. So as we go into some of these content areas, what trust means in safety there, it’s gonna overlap. And what no means inconsistent, it’s gonna overlap. So, these are just four components that hopefully as you think about vulnerability in your own marriage, that at one time or another probably need to be present or utilized in order to be truly vulnerable in a marriage, in a healthy way.
I appreciate that, and that’ll be kind of our outline today as we walk through each of these, talk about what they are, what they are not, maybe a few examples that go along. But to your point, this isn’t an exhaustive list and it isn’t like, okay, if I check off all four of these, then I equal vulnerability. I pass the class. These are things that should be, that are components of it. Maybe that’s a way to say it. Let’s walk into the first one and think about. Kaleb, I’ll look to you. Let me set it up. But this first one is this idea of knowing.
So to be vulnerable, it’s kind of in the definition that we talked about, there’s a knowing that takes place. So think about what it means to know your spouse. And then for each of these, we have some opposites. So to not know your spouse is to be in this place of vagueness or being unfamiliar, so it begs that question of how well do you know your spouse and why is this important? Right? So, Kaleb, why is this important for vulnerability, this aspect of knowing?
So, there’s two aspects. Even as I think about these characteristics that we’re going through, and I think Katie referenced it at the outset is both, there is a knowing of self and there’s a knowing of other, and I think they go together.
And even as we walk through these components, there is both a sense, as we think about knowing. Yes, it’s knowing our spouse, but the beauty of vulnerability, I think, is that it also leads done well to knowing ourselves better relationally. And so it’s a both and, and so as far as knowing our spouse, it is the way of connecting if I don’t know about what they enjoy, they like. What is on their heart related to stresses or difficult relationships in their lives? It’s difficult to connect deeply with them and be at a place that I can be responsive in a way that they know I’m with them. I care. I’m interested in their lives, that sort of thing.
So there’s a marital researcher, John Gottman, and he talks about we have cognitive maps and a part of our brain that specifically for the purpose of our spouse. And we build those maps over time, which is really about updating our knowing of our spouse. As you think about territory, we don’t pull out paper maps anymore, we go to GPS, go to Google, right? Yeah, exactly. But you’re identifying the territory. And specifically for us who are married, we have parts of our brain that are specifically for knowing. It is a way of connecting with our spouse even when they’re not physically present.
And I’m guessing Kaleb, that researcher Gottman would also reference how you knew your spouse. And we’ll get into some more specific levels here in a second, but how you knew your spouse. So all of you take a moment whether you were living in the same community or grew up together or completely didn’t know your spouse, how you started your marriage. And knowing each other is at a very different level of 15, 16, 20, 40 plus years in. And I’m guessing what they cared about when you were newly engaged. Five years in, 10 years in is a very different know than when you’re 20 plus, 40 plus years in. And so just being aware of that, I’m guessing Gottman would also say, use that roadmap, those grooves and so forth, that map is gonna change.
And, don’t just assume through life that knowing your spouse exactly when we were engaged it’s the exact same, 10 plus years in, so it’s not like a, okay, I checked this off my list. Okay, I’ve gone through, here’s my 20 questions to know my spouse and once I’ve got those done, I’ve checked it off and it’s never gonna change because things shift. It’s a little bit of a moving target. Now, there can be intentional ways to do some of that. I’m guessing, what do you like or what don’t you like? Or, how did you feel when this kind of thing happened? I mean, there’s some basic questions to be curious and available to ask, but to your point, Katie, that shifts over time. It’s just life experiences shift us. It’s more of a process than a destination.
And, it makes me think about like, knowing it, like you’re saying over time, Katie is like, living life with is deeply known even as believers. Knowing Christ is I think daily, what would Christ do in the situation? How would that be reflected? And I think the same is true when you know your spouse through transitions and things that come up, losses, challenges, joys that you know at a deeper than a cognitive level. Right. You absolutely. You know how they’ll respond in certain situations.
I think if you look at this graph, it speaks exactly what you’re talking about, Kaleb. This is a graph we’ve used different times in different settings, but there’s levels of knowing. So on the left hand side, you see this idea of facts. You know, what’s your favorite food, what’s your favorite restaurant? You know, all the way down through, I think I hurt, and then this is who I am. And there’s time and vulnerability that takes place to get to those deeper levels. And, I think I heard, this is who I am shifts over time by the experiences that shape us. Is that a fair statement? Kaleb, speak to this. How would you use this or think about this context in this realm of knowing?
So, moving from, like we alluded to early in the relationship, it is a lot of, oh, what do you like, what do you not like? You know, all those facts, right? I know about someone, or you can know about someone, but you don’t really quote unquote know them. And so as it deepens certainly to this is who I am, and like you said, I mean, my thoughts go too, as a father, if you were to ask me when I was first married, what would come up for me?
Yes, I can predict that, but until I’m in that role, I don’t really know what that is like for me. And so I’m sharing that experience live with my spouse that gets to know me in the role of a father. Does that make sense? So there’s life experiences that bring out in me, whether it’s desires, longings, fears, that as a result of life, that they come out and she has the opportunity and I have the opportunity to know ourselves more deeply as a result of that, but also know each other and share in each other’s, you know who they are.
I think two pitfalls that possibly can happen. Looking at this graph, when I think of marriage and just my own self and vulnerability for the know piece, two pit pitfalls can be, we have to stay, I hear we have to stay in the facts. There’s schedules, there’s logistics, the kids have to be here and Arlan’s schedule is here and all of these things. And, I think as time goes on, one of the pitfalls can be is we just stay in the facts. It’s really comfortable. It’s really easy. It’s not hard.
I don’t have to expose a lot. But yet if you never go into the, I hurt, this is who I am. Like, this really hurt me when you said, or when you didn’t notice this, I was really, really hurt. So the other pitfall is I would say Kaleb, that most marriage and family therapists would not say, you know, you don’t have to stay in that this is who I am all the time. Like Arlan doesn’t come home from work through the door and this is who I am and we don’t instantly have these deep conversations. You don’t have to stay in there. But the pitfall is if I never move there. We never understand what our spouse’s true hurt is and we never get like wow, that really hurt them, and this is why one of their weaknesses, one of their flaws, one thing they’re working through is this. And so that’s just a pitfall. I think potentially, if we’re not careful, it’s just easy to be in that upper level. Right? It’s so comfortable, it’s so nuanced. It just happens. That’s life. But if we never push ourselves that deeper connection, that exposure is not gonna be there in the know.
So push that second that another level of question or whatever it is. Some of us, I mean, and this is also part of knowing your spouse. Scripture says, dwell with your wife according to knowledge.
You know, can your spouse quickly go into these deeper areas or do they need time? Like, does part of this knowing process knowing that if we need to process through some things, but we need to schedule it. It’s not gonna just happen quickly. Schedule, sharing your hurt. Yes. Schedule versus, I mean, it sounds kind of funny, but that is part of what could be, versus other couples maybe have a little bit different dynamic, but that’s the idea. Are we willing to have a balance of knowing in these different places and that discovery that goes along with it? I think, yeah, for sure.
Arlan, as you talking about this is like honoring, part of walking into this and increased vulnerability and we’ll get to the other factors of safety and things like that, but you can’t force knowing, right? It’s not like, okay, let’s sit down and we’re gonna have this right now, but rather being intentional about creating a space with these other characteristics of safety so that knowing can happen and occur and you’re intentional about doing that. Yeah. Right. I really appreciate that. And, we thought about making these almost a progression, like which one’s first, which one’s second?
But the more that we talked about, it’s that circle because all of them, it’s more overlapping build on each other and overlap, like Katie said at the beginning. But you can see why knowing is really important of vulnerability. But there’s things that have to happen for knowing to even take place.
So let’s go into another one, and flesh that out a little bit. So the second topic here is trust. So, and you can imagine it’s gonna be hard to know someone if there’s not a trust level. How well do you trust your spouse? The opposite being this idea of being unsure or having a level of doubt, or maybe being skeptical. Don’t quite know how someone might respond or that kind of a thing. So, speaking to this trust, Katie, you go first this time. Why is trust important for vulnerability?
Trust is super important for vulnerability. If you think when we take our marriage vows, we trust our spouse will commit to that vow. And likewise our spouses trust, we would commit to the same vow. And so that reliance or that hope, confident hope or expectation is the definition actually of trust. To show or allow your weaknesses and flaws to be known and seen takes an incredible amount of trust. And it’s an exposure of a whole new level.
Like at the beginning of engagement or when you were single, there was a lot of things that your potential forever roommate did not know. And, you kept those hidden. And yet once you enter into that covenantal relationship, there’s a level of exposure and a depth there that it’s really hard and it’s difficult.
And so thinking about trust and then the opposite, the unsurety or doubt. And so sometimes it’s not about that confidential vow. I trust my spouse will keep the vow. I, my spouse keeps the vow and so forth. But it’s more about just, wow, I’m about to share hard. I wonder what will happen if I share that or what will their reaction be?
Absolutely. Last time I shared that, I trusted them with those emotions or I trusted them with something kind of scary. It didn’t go so well and so I’m kind of doubtful, I’m kind of skeptical about the trust and the emotional or the connection piece, not necessarily keeping my vow to my marriage relationship. So, I would say for our purpose here today, and vulnerability and marriage with the trust piece, it’s not necessarily the vow piece of marriage. It’s more that heart and that emotional attachment with trust.
Kaleb, speak into this a little bit. What would you say when you think about this idea of trust, what comes to your mind? Yeah, so as Katie was sharing there, there’s a couple aspects of trust and so the one is like, oh, is my spouse, are they a person that I can trust? As far as trustworthy, meaning you as dependable. But there’s another aspect though of trust that is, are they really interested in me specifically, do I matter?
Like when they live life? When they schedule, do they have me in their mind? Do I matter to them? Am I part of, and that’s another part of trust I think that Katie, you’re really referring to in this sense of vulnerability is in order for vulnerability to this back and forth to deepen, there needs to be that aspect. I mean, both are true, but the second. Certainly we’re assuming the first is true. The second is critical for vulnerability.
Let’s go into this, we call it a triangle of trust. Again, not exhaustive, but just some things to think about in what makes up trust, or how do we get to this place of trust. And again, maybe it’s not, they don’t necessarily build on each other. They’re just presented this way. But I think they’re important aspects to get to this place of where we feel like we’re on the same team. And so there’s this love piece at the bottom that we have, how can I love today? Katie, walk into that. What does that mean? How do we think about love in the context of trust?
So I would say on the pieces here, if you do start at the bottom, the love piece, honestly, when you think of Scripture and what love means, it comes back to just like not self-serving and serving others. I remember when Arlan and I got married, some of the best wisdom we were given was just the concept of how can I wake up and not think about yourself, wake up and think, how can I out-serve my spouse today? And actually we’ve passed that out serving my spouse along to several different people over the years. And it does still ring true today cuz when I wake up I’m thinking of myself, my schedule, my needs, my energy, all of those pieces.
And so for vulnerability, for trust to be there, I have to trust not only that we’re on the same team, which is the together piece of this component, but just that I’m out-serving my spouse today. And what does that look like? Listening is a key piece. Am I listening to listen? Am I listening to respond? Am I listening to fix? What am I listening with? That communication piece? How can I stop what I’m doing? Maybe communicate now is not a good time. I’m free in a few minutes. How can I best prepare myself to listen to what they’re about to say? That speaks to what Kaleb was saying about the dependability and the willingness to actually care, which is the empathy piece there. How can I put myself in their shoes? How can I think about, you know, I know how my day has gone. Do I care about how their day has gone and maybe their reaction and their words and how that all plays in together with vulnerability and trust. So again, maybe the triangle is not the exact graphic, but there’s definitely components here that are super, super important for trust to be evident and then obviously towards vulnerability.
Let me back up and just flesh this out just a little bit more. Something you said there you think about loving, how can I love today, it’s really about almost like that love language conversation, that love language idea, right? Do I know, again, tying into know, do I know what my spouse needs right now to feel loved and am I willing to engage in that to help her or him feel loved? Do they need acts of service right now? Do they need quality time right now? How can I put them first, there. And then, Kaleb, speak a little bit more into this listening and empathy side here. Those kind of tie together, I’m guessing, but listening is so important, as Katie said. How do you know if you’re a good listener? How do you know if you’re listening? You know, I might teach us right here.
Your wife will, or your husband or wife will let you know. Yeah. You know that.Okay. So that’s the answer. You are not listening when, and you are listening now. There you go. But I like the question and the way that you, Katie and Arlan even asked this question here, how best can I prepare myself to listen because it’s convicting to me. When I think about, one of the challenges I have is transitioning from work to being present with Ang.
And part of active listening is first listening to my own body and my own heart. To be able to get to a place that I’m responsive and with her, right? Because it’s difficult to be a good listener if, you know what, I’m still churning on things and so it’s a both, okay. Listening to be able to be at a place to listen and then actively hearing what my spouse is saying, not just, we would say in words, but what’s the message? Is she saying this with what tone of voice? Does she have a tear in her eye? All of those things are important aspects.
I would say too, for the listening piece, listening is communication. So listening there’s two piece pieces of listening. There’s the listener and the talker. So if there’s things that are sh. You know, location. Lots of times if we’re trying to talk in different rooms. Generally for our marriage, I’m not gonna lie, but we do it all the time. We start a conversation and walk in the other room and I have run water cuz I’m doing dishes. I’m right. Like, so think about location, think about timing. Best preparing yourself to listen. Like there, if there’s gonna be a, you know, I’m about to share something that I really need you to hear. Doing dishes, kids getting out the door, timing, location, is a big piece of that communication and listening.
And sometimes to build on that point, sometimes it seems like, oh, that’s an overly simple point, right? The idea that you don’t ask a question, walk in the other room, and yet how often, if you just think about your behavior, how often do we do that and how often do we not capture the little filters that make things harder. And it’s just a good check to think about.
Well, it’s a good check and it grinds on a marriage. Right? All those little things build up to the frustration or the, you know, little Fox’s song, the little foxes. That’s right. Yeah. So it doesn’t help me empathize. It doesn’t help me feel like we’re together and we’re Team Miller in this marriage type of deal.
Kaleb speak about empathy then. So I’m guessing you have to listen well, to be able to be empathetic. What does empathy look like, or how would you describe that in two sentences. Well, maybe that’s not possible, so just describe it. We’ll take time.
Well, so this is a really neat thing, Arlan, just that our brains have the capacity to resonate with each other, to feel with each other deeply. We are moved by others being moved. We talk Scripture. Romans talks about weeping with those who weep and rejoicing with those who rejoice. And God has created our brain to not just understand cognitively, but feel like when my wife is sad, I can feel sad with her. I experience that same kind of emotion, not to the point that then I obviously, that brings up something in me that I need to walk through. The feeling of sadness and how I approach that.
But I think with empathy, there’s a deep resonating kind of back and forth connection that happens because of the way that God has created our brains and our bodies. Sure. It’s maybe not taking on that sadness, but it’s sharing in, and I think there is a difference in that wording, right? Yep. The difference between sympathy versus empathy, right? Correct.
So at the top here, we have this idea of being together, or how do I communicate that I’m on the same team again, almost being very purposeful in communicating that. I’ll share one example. I just had a conversation a couple days ago with a leadership couple in our church, and they were talking about, and they described it very vividly. They said, there’s times in our life, they wanted to keep the joy that they were experiencing. And there’s times in their life where they’ve been very intentional about not facing each other. When they’re having maybe something going on, but standing side by side. Cuz even that, that body posture standing side by side communicates and says, we are on the same team, with the same intents together versus against each other. So again, maybe a little thing, but it helps us remind ourselves of that phrase and then that mindset that goes along with that teamwork versus competition in any way, shape or form. Any other thoughts about this idea and trust and then we’ll go on to the next one.
That top piece there, the together piece I think is really important cuz oftentimes I feel like Satan can just run havoc. Like he can turn it to like our spouse is the enemy. Our spouse doesn’t want the best for me. Our spouse doesn’t care. All of those pieces. And so continually using words, continually praying for your spouse, communicates in so many ways that you are on the same team in this marriage and that you are together in that piece. So, just not realizing maybe what does that look like for my marriage? I don’t know what being together on the same team means, but the opposite of that. I think,oftentimes our sin nature in marriage, we can very quickly fall into that trap.
Sure. Yeah, let’s go on to the next one here and just, and then think about the next topic here. So safety becomes our third topic here. Okay. So knowing, trusting, and now safety. How do you have safety with your spouse? And I think like the opposite here is important. We can talk about physical safety. That is an important aspect. Obviously that’s gonna be a huge issue if there’s against trust, that kinda thing. There’s not a sense of physical safety, but let’s go into this level of just even neglect.
The opposite of safety can be defined, I think rightfully defined as neglect or feeling neglected. Do I feel safe? Do I almost feel treasured or respected or appreciated by my spouse? Or do I feel neglected? And what does that look like? And obviously those have impacts upon vulnerability. Kaleb we’ll go to you, speak into this, like how does safety impact vulnerability.
So, you think about vulnerability stepping into and sharing our weakness as Katie talked about earlier. Inherently that brings up fears. It brings up in us, in our bodies, the feeling of fear, and so with that, there does need to be a level of safety, meaning, there is a presence and a being with, to be able to open up in a way that you receive your spouse, you’re received by your spouse, right? And, by the way, this isn’t safe or unsafe. It’s more about the level of safety that we have. And more and more we’re moving towards what are the things that I’m doing that lead Ang to conclude, ooh, it may not be safe to open up and share this hurt right now. And I don’t even know it. Or vice versa. And so, safety is a critical component to ongoing deepening vulnerability.
Katie, any thoughts about this as you kind of think about this, this topic of safety? Kind of like you mentioned, Arlan, there’s definitely a physical component to safety. We don’t wanna negate that, but I would say safety in most marriages. There’s just, I hear often marriages say, you know, we’re just not, that’s not our marriage, that’s not our kind of marriage. We don’t talk about that. We’re not like that. We just can’t get there in our marriage. That’s just not who we are. And, I do wonder sometimes, if there’s not that level of, if you do feel one spouse feels, you know, maybe neglected, not as important, taken for granted, utilitarian in many ways, depending upon what part of marriage in season of marriage they’re in. I think those safety pieces, do I make my spouse feel precious?
Do I make my spouse feel special? Do I allow my spouse the ability to share something? The Psalm 78:53, I love that verse. It talks about the word safety in that verse, and Scripture doesn’t say exactly what safety is there. But it says what? So they feared not is what 78:53 says. And I love that, that they feared like, I can open up again. I do feel special. I do feel loved and cared for in an emotional way.
You know, that really ties in. I just wanna jump into this question cuz that has a great visual, I think that goes with this idea of walls. We build walls to keep us safe, or at least that’s what you think, keep bad things out and good things in kinda leads towards a wall. And in this context we’re talking about walls being not healthy things. A person because they are feeling maybe neglected or not valued or not appreciated or have a level of fear, there’s a wall that can go up.
And so now there’s a little bit of introspective work here in marriages. You know, are there walls that’s a conversation starter. Are there walls within our marriage, and how do we think about those walls? Thoughts as you just think about this idea of a concept of walls that can be built?
So, a couple thoughts, Arlan. One is initially in some ways, I would say putting up a wall increases my safety. Does that make sense? But, I like it says as a couple. So I think with that, the whole idea of safety relationally because part of what we do, I think at times, is put up walls so that we feel more safe within ourselves. And so part of safety as a relationship is us as spouses being able to sit with the uncomfortable emotions that come up with us, that feel unsafe to us perhaps, that feel uncomfortable that I can be with the vulnerability of my spouse.
Walls personally are different than what God created for marriage and walls relationally. Is that what you’re saying there, Kaleb? Yeah, that sometimes the walls that I might be put up that are more about me sitting with my spouse with fear and I feel helpless, and so I start putting up walls within myself by either trying to fix or moving away from her. Because I feel unsafe about the emotion, not about her. Does that make sense? And so I think it’s a both and again, of both. How do we move towards safety within our own selves as these things come up? And also because I think that influences how I sit with my spouse in a safe way. Yeah, absolutely.
Well, and it influences future walls potentially. So, you have a conversation and one spouse shares a hard or a difficult, and it wasn’t taken well, oop, up goes a wall, right? We’re not doing that again. That was hard. Yes. But now was that hard relationally, or was that hard because personally, I felt really, really hurt. Or personally they didn’t get, there’s that connect the difference between the individual and the relational. But, encouraging like that turning towards, which I think we’ll get to in the next characteristic here would speak to that. So that’s a good point there,Kaleb, that I hadn’t thought about that, whether it’s the individual reflection or the relational reflection.
So, what I’m hearing too, and I think there’s an aspect here. I mean, sometimes there’s an incident that causes a rift that causes a wall to go up. Like you just shared Katie. So I’m not going back to that place because that was really hard and uncomfortable and was not good. But then I think there’s also a wall that kind of just kind of develops over time through that neglect piece. Where, oh, why should I even try? Because over time there’s just been no demonstration of openness or value or safety or caring. We just slowly start to live our lives. I mean, you hear about that concept of like, well, we’re just two people living in the same house kind of our own individual lives. And so how do we break down those walls or at least identify those walls to say, we wanna step into a place of safety, we wanna step into a place where we can have sharing and back and forth. Any thoughts on that or how does that stir any thoughts? I guess Kaleb, that’s why I’m asking.
That’s good. So I think initially, even if we’re able to start with that conversation, Arlan, that, oh, I notice within myself, when we step into this topic, I start to become defensive or a wall comes up for me. So I’m taking personal responsibility, but also expressing the desire to continue to learn ways to little by little, break down that wall. And so I think even beginning with acknowledging that it’s there. Let’s talk about the fact that it’s there is a good place to start. That’s a great point too, Kaleb.
Our physiology, I bet spouses that know each other well, I would say they know their spouse’s physiological response when things get really hard. The look, is that what you’re saying? The look. They know the look, I needs a look. I’m not gonna say or not. Maybe it’s like a nervous tick. Maybe it’s like a sway, right? Like a tight smile. Right. There’s a lot of, you get busy and start cleaning the whole house. We won’t say if that may or may not have happened. So that’s a fascinating introspective question though. Like, do you know your spouse’s nervous physiological response when you can’t sit in that hard, where that wall continues to grow? I bet a lot of our spouse, your spouse, vice versa would be able to share that. That’s a great way to start, like I noticed. Here’s mine.
So, let’s go on to the fourth one here. I think this is an important one, and you can see these first three really, really tie together well. I think they’re all kind of maybe aspects of it, knowing, trusting, being safe. Now here, this one becomes maybe a little bit how, okay. A little bit different than what, it’s more of a how consistency. How do we get to a place of vulnerability? It’s by being consistent, by creating almost a little bit of a pattern. The opposite being haphazard or random. The definition there of consistent being this idea that we’re gonna just be steady. We’re gonna be steady and intentional about this idea and see where that goes. So, Katie, you first this time. How is consistency important to vulnerability?
I think when most of us would’ve gotten married however many years ago, many people would’ve given us the wisdom. Marriage is great and marriage is hard, and we like to focus on that first one. Marriage is great and kind of thought, well, I don’t know marriage is hard yet cuz marriage is marriage.
Right. And yet, I wonder if those same people would tell you marriage is hard, but here’s a couple things to think about. Consistency is a big, big one. Repeatedly in order to be vulnerable, repeatedly turning towards your spouse. Repeatedly realizing you’re not gonna get it right and consistently trying again and saying, you know what? This, okay, that didn’t go well and we learned this. Now let’s go forward and trying again. Right? Marriage is not about getting and conquering that checklist. Marriage is about learning and the journey of it. And so, assuming good intent consistently. Good marriages don’t just happen is a great quote with this. Good marriages just don’t happen. Arlan, you have a great example of a puzzle that you’ve given before.
The example I’ve used before is like, it, sometimes I think we, we think our marriage is gonna be perfect. It’s similar idea that if you just took like a thousand piece jigsaw puzzle and just dumped it out on the table and expected it all to come together perfectly.
I mean that doesn’t happen. I mean, to do that it takes intentional effort. It takes a consistent, persistent approach. And I think there’s something here to that, you know, we have to do the work if we wanna have a good marriage. Kaleb, you’ve seen this a lot, probably speaking into it just a little bit from your experience or any thoughts you might have.
Well, one thought I have is just as you were talking, Arlan and Katie, is our vows commit to this through riches or poor, through health or sickness is like this saying, there is gonna be a consistency of me being with you through life, regardless what happens. And I think that creates stability in the relationship.
And I think what you’re alluding to, I think as well, Katie, is these are small moments that we’re present with each other. I mean, they could be moments of partying when we leave for the day and when we come home at the end of the day. But there is something that we come to look forward to of a time that we’re together.
It’s interesting if you’d ask most couples like, what do you consistently do? They’re like, oh, we’re just so spontaneous. You know, we don’t schedule, you know, they kind of might haha around. But yet when you ask them if your spouse is gone for a couple days on a work trip or whatnot, you start to notice those consistent things. Whether it’s the prayer before bedtime or the kiss when you walk in the door, like you start to notice like, oh, I guess actually those small, consistent connecting pieces, I do actually miss when my spouse is gone. So obviously for trust, for vulnerability, for those pieces consistently, considering your marriage, where you’re at, the relationship, it’s not random like good marriages just don’t happen.
You know, I ran into this quote, which I really like just not that long ago. It says different context, but I think it fits here. Relationships are built or destroyed one conversation at a time, one action, or lack of action at a time. It’s that idea that the relationships either are being built or they’re being destroyed by the actions that we do day in and day out.
I would argue, Katie, that everybody has patterns, everybody has behavior they engage in, you know, most of us do pretty much the same thing every morning when we get up. Whether it’s brush our teeth or whatever it might be. There’s a pattern to our behavior. And I think with our marriages it’s important to think about what are the patterns that we are developing and how are they impacting our relationship?
It makes me think of another doctor’s lesson, Leslie Parrot, they written a book and they’re therapists and believers. They mentioned two premarital couples and early in their marriage. Choose your ruts wisely. What I mean this whole idea Arlan, that we get into patterns, routines over time. What patterns or discipline do you want to be ruts. Ruts in of themselves aren’t bad. Just choosing the right ones.
So, let me use one more example here and then we’ll move towards a close and leave some time for questions if there’s any questions. But, I was challenged once by a mentor of mine to say, we kind of get into this vacation mindset with things where it’s we work, work, work, work, work, and then we have a vacation and we expect those one to two weeks or whatever we take for a vacation to kind of solve everything. And then we work, work, work, work, work, and we get to a vacation. And, it puts a lot of pressure on that time to be okay, or this becomes our getaway as a couple. And in these three days, we’re gonna solve nine months of stress. And then we wonder, or you could do it like every three months and then just throw that out there.
So, their challenge was can you build a daily respite into your life? Can you build daily consistent routines where you have a level of connection or a level of vulnerability or a level of getting back together on a regular basis? And what could that look like? Withdrawal is good and necessary and you still need those other times. But don’t wait for them to begin to be building actions that are building up your relationship on a daily level. It has blessed me to shift my thinking a little bit in certain things.
It takes the pressure off of that vacation mode mindset, but it also encourages alleviating the pressure during the regular day of life. We all can’t go on vacation all the time. There’s still the daily need.
Any other questions,or thoughts on this? Or let’s move to our final slide, if not, so just to summarize here, we have this same graphic we started with, you’ve got these four different aspects, know, trust, safety, consistency, but then you have the converse within them. So, help us put this all together? Or, just any thoughts? Katie, you go first and Kaleb, you can wrap it up. Any thoughts to consider for couples as we try to think about vulnerability in this context?
Yeah, I would say, again, these are just four components. It’s not an all-inclusive list. There’s many more out there, I’m sure, for true vulnerability and so forth. But I would, as I’d say, whether you’ve joined us online or you listened to this in the future, there’s gonna be one area that you and your spouse are probably really strong in. As we talked through this material, you are like, yeah, I get that, we got that one. And then there’s potentially another area or two where you’re like, oh, that’s really hard for our marriage. I don’t know. That seems kind of difficult, so I would just encourage you in the strong areas of vulnerability, continue to grow those, and then in the areas that you’re not quite comfortable with, is there one point going forward that you can be like, okay, we’ve tried it, we need to try again, and just encourage you in that. Arlan may cringe, but one of my favorite quotes is from a fairytale, and this quote says this, the greatest risk any of us may take is to be seen as we truly are. The greatest risk any of us may take is to be seen as we truly are. In a healthy, vibrant marriage, vulnerability is a key to that. To be seen as we truly are and not just seen, but loved in a God honoring way. That’s special. That’s very special.
Kaleb any thoughts and then we’ll go to questions from anyone after that point. I guess a thought I have is this journey for all of us is both really exciting and scary and I think acknowledging the beauty of merit as we walk through this journey together. It’s not like, oh, we’ve arrived at knowing or trust or, vulnerability, but it’s an ongoing deepening. And I think the beauty of it is that just in our relationship with Christ, the idea is transformation of ourselves and our relationship. And I think that’s really what this is all about is transformation at the core of who we are. Not just how we speak, but the very desires that we have are being changed.
I appreciate that. I really do. If anyone has a question, if this stirred anybody’s mind or thoughts, please feel free to unmute your mics, ask a question. Just be mindful, we are recorded, so I’m gonna ask you to keep your cameras off unless you’re comfortable having your face show up on the screen. But if there’s any questions out there that this is stirred, please, this would be a great time to ask and we’d be glad to talk ’em through. Kaleb gets the hard questions, we get the easy questions. That’s always the agreement.
If not, I’ll bring this to a close. Really appreciate the conversation and the discussion that’s taken place so far. And, the visual that always comes to my mind in this setting is just that idea of going from the shallow end to the deeper end. You know, you might have a child, you maybe watched kids kind of learn how to swim, and at some point it’s appropriate and fine for them to be in the shallow end and just kind of splash around. But over time, there’s a depth that’s expected. And, figuring out how to walk into that in a gentle way and walk in that together. The opportunity that’s in front of us is to know each other well. That connection, that deeper level of connection where we don’t have to hide or feel ashamed, but together as a team, we can approach life.
And, hopefully some of the things that were shared, examples that were shared, some of these principles, they maybe can help us as we take that step as couples from shallow end to deeper ends of vulnerability. So God bless you as you walk into those places and may you do it with His love and grace. Thanks Kaleb. Thanks Katie for joining today. And thank each one of you for being part of us.