“Vulnerability is the only authentic state. Being vulnerable means being open, for wounding, but also for pleasure. Being open to the wounds of life means also being open to the bounty and beauty. Don’t mask or deny your vulnerability: it is your greatest asset.  – Stephen Russell

Do you and your partner share deep feelings during or after a disagreement? Most of us in conflict express anger and frustration; however, the deeper, more vulnerable feelings of pain, fear, hurt and sadness are often forgotten or avoided.

Nature has taught us to draw back or become aggressive when we are hurt; to protect ourselves by moving away from pain and vulnerability. So it’s common for couples to fall into a pattern of shutting down when hurt; or camouflaging the pain with belligerence and attack.

For us to suggest that couples share deeper, more vulnerable feelings during or after conflict as a way of becoming closer seems anti-intuitive. Yet that is exactly what we are saying.

It is when you are most vulnerable with your partner that you strengthen the foundation of your relationship.

In a Couple to Couple session with us, Derrick expressed anger that Ann was cold towards him and hadn’t had sex with him in two months. I asked Derrick what other feelings he had that were under the anger. His eyes watered and he described feeling hurt and worried that Ann had lost her attraction to him. He was afraid he was losing her.

It was this expression of the vulnerable part of himself that touched Ann who turned toward him and started to listen. He apologized to her for having been irritable over the last few months and revealed that he was worried since there had been layoffs on his job. As a result of Derrick’s sharing his deeper feelings, Ann connected with him and they hugged. Derrick realized how sharing his vulnerability with Ann brought them closer.

It’s vital that couples share deeper feelings and venture upon the “road less travelled” – the road of vulnerability and openness to forge a strong relationship.