My New Year's Resolution: Be Vulnerable

Love & Sex 19

chickadee handWhile discussing our New Year's Resolutions here at The Stir, I flippantly threw out that I was going to try to be less of a sarcastic jerk when talking to my husband -- you know, for the sake of my kids.

Yes, it's true. I have caught my boys -- even the 4-year-old -- using some of my own special brand of sarcastic quips or passive aggressive phrasings, and it has made me wince. Deeply.

However, when I really started to think about this resolution and dig to its core, I realized there's something more critical at stake here -- my tossing off flippant words and remarks is not only teaching my kids how to behave poorly, but it's teaching them how not to deal appropriately with their real feelings. It's showing them, in fact, how invulnerability works. And probably even more critically, it's working against me and my marriage.

If you can't be vulnerable in your marriage, where can you be vulnerable? Marriage is supposed to be a safe place, if not the safest place. And I must say I feel incredibly safe with my husband. He is not judgmental, he's forgiving, and he accepts me for who I am.

However, somewhere down the line, along the paths in my life that led me here, I learned to hide my vulnerability when it comes to the deepest, most precious feelings that come up inside. When I'm deeply hurt, I usually act mad. When I'm stressed, I go on the defense, blame others, or point out other people's faults. When I need to be loved or noticed, I shut down, pull away, or, you guessed it, pull the angry card again. And probably the worst is when I'm afraid. When I am experiencing fear, just steer clear.

Don't you want to be married to me?

And can I just say that this is so extremely lame? Lame not just because I can be a gigantic asshole but lame because I am then never ever getting my actual needs met when I express myself this way. In fact, I am deferring my needs to some belief that being a jerk will make someone feel guilty or sympathetic to the needs I'm not even expressing authentically.

I realize this makes no sense. But in my emotional makeup, it does. Of course, it still totally sucks.

Most the time, when someone has a fear of being vulnerable, it's because they're afraid of being hurt, rejected, or attacked at their core. And when I dig deep, I must admit, this is why I can't give into vulnerability. Not so much the rejection or attacks but the hurt. I am deeply afraid of saying what I want and need and not getting those things in return. Which, of course, if I dig even deeper, means I am not truly loved.

Of course, this defense mechanism of lashing out or being a jerk isn't exactly upping the odds of my getting those wants and needs met either. Not by a long shot. It's also not making me very lovable. Ugh!

So, and this is a biggie, I am resolving to show more vulnerability in 2011. How will I do this? Well, there's a long list of things I can do, but I'm going try to focus on just a few of them in particular. It's my goal to: 1) tune into my true feelings, 2) disclose those true feelings (admit when I'm wrong, admit when I'm afraid), and 3) take into consideration the feelings of others and be open to their emotional processes (especially when they're unlike mine). Gulp!

I'm not expecting anything near perfection, but I hope that by making this resolution, I can begin to further understand the true triggers behind my emotional reactions and ultimately learn to better address them and express them in order to get my own needs met. And hey, if I'm lucky, maybe save my kids a tiny bit of money on therapy later, too!

Do you find it easy to be vulnerable in your relationships? Why or why not?


Image via mybulldog/Flickr

marriage, emotional health, relationships, resolutions


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nonmember avatar Taube

I'm sarcastic all the time with my 2 year-olds, especially when thanking them: "Thank-you for the booger on my shirt. Thank-you for throwing up all over me." Fortunately they don't get sarcasm, because I have the most polite children - they say thank-you all the time! Just sayin'...

frysh... fryshannon34

I really enjoyed reading this..It is as if I wrote this my own self.I wish you the best in your resolution as I have the exact same one.Lets just hope that something will change

MrsCh... MrsChurch

Thank you for this article. It was very raw, real, and refreshing. I, too, feel like I wrote this myself.  I have made the same resolution, and am going to therapy to make sure it sticks and I truly change.

Peajewel Peajewel

Loved this!  I was just telling my hubs I need to watch what I say because my Mom came into the room and told my 4 year old "I need a kiss" to which my daughter replied, "of course you do" which I think she may have gotten from me.  Now I don't say that to her when she wants a kiss but I think I have said it when she has said "Mommy I want some gum" or candy or whatever else she may want.  I do agree with you though, I think I could be more vulnerable in my marriage but it is a tough thing for me to be.  I was always taught that being vulnerable was being weak and I know that is not true but that's what I got.

tazdvl tazdvl

UGH! Need to work on that too.

rhian... rhiana_lee

Thank you for writing such a well thought out piece on this.  I, too, need to work on this and am having difficulty doing so.  It is sort of in line with my New Year's Resolution: to be less judgemental towards other moms.



ethan... ethans_momma06

It takes a lot of trust to be vulnerable so I would say it's pretty hard to do.

sodapple sodapple

i'm more vulnerable with my husband than my children so... i need to work on this too. =-)

Wan Do

The problem isn't really with you. The problem is with your husband. Because of feminism, he's become an emasculated male who doesn't know how to take charge of his relationship. You're only a b*tch because he allows you to get away with that type of behavior. He needs to start learning how to stand up for himself:

nonmember avatar sweetsdjc

Thank you for writing this. I am not married, nor do I have children, but I do exhibit the same behavior to my loved ones, especially my boyfriend. It's like, the closer I am, the more afraid of losing the person, the more I exhibit these tendencies. I just bookmarked this post because, I too, want to be stop this. Thank you.

Wan Do - that thinking is part of the problem. Blaming others. I used to blame my boyfriend, but when I get down to it, *I* am mean. He does not LET me. In fact...he has incessantly said "you HAVE to stop saying those things to me. I will leave" And we argue over it. I think because I didnt really take responsibility for it. I told him he was making it up or misunderstanding. But he wasnt.

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