Stay Calm and Be Vulnerable

Aside from the typical Webster definition* of vulnerability, it can be difficult to fully comprehend what vulnerability is and how it affects relationships. In some ways, it is painted as an abstract concept that carries negative connotations and consequences. Confidence is often the pinnacle of success by most American standards. However, vulnerability can play a very important part in many relationships, particularly marriages.

What is it, really? Vulnerability is the complete opening of oneself to another person or situation, thus being exposed to potential damage or harm. In the context of marriage, vulnerability particularly exposes feelings that are close to each individual’s heart. These are often feelings of sadness, fear, or pain.

How does it affect marriage? It is rare in marriage that a spouse doesn’t expose emotional, mental, or physical pain in front of or to the other spouse. However, the act of telling a spouse about unseen feelings can be difficult. When feelings are verbally and physically shared among a married couple, there are two potential outcomes. The first occurs when these feelings are validated, and the listening spouse shows respect and love toward the vulnerable spouse; in this situation, the consequences are positive and the couple experiences a strengthening bond. The second occurs when these feelings are degraded, invalidated, or “brushed off.” Alternative to the more positive situation, there tends to be a loss of trust, security, and predictability. This erodes the relationship to shallow interactions and covered emotions, rather than provide the depth that accompanies a stable relationship.relationship-issues-having-dead-emotional-intimacy

 

How do we become more vulnerable? Terry Gaspard wrote in her article “Vulnerability: The Secret to Divorce-Proofing Your Relationship” about ways to allow yourself to be more vulnerable. She is a licensed social worker and contributor to the Huffington Post who suggests practicing “self-disclosing thoughts, feelings, and desires without self-blame.” This is the all-too-famous “I feel…” statements when discussing things that matter to you. If you find yourself getting irritable at something with your spouse, pinpoint the problem to how the behavior makes you feel and discuss that. With this, you and your spouse can explore the situation deeply and come to a solution together; which will strengthen your marriage. Gaspard’s other suggestion is to avoid allowing past hurt to direct your actions now. It can be difficult to want to open up yourself when you are still feeling hurt from past circumstances, so starting a little at a time doesn’t hurt. Acknowledge the little efforts your spouse makes to understand you, even if they don’t completely. This may take time, but the ultimate goal is to create a sustainable, predictable bond with your spouse that will carry with you for the rest of your marriage.

*vulnerable: adjective,  vul·ner·a·ble  \ˈvəl-n(ə-)rə-bəl, ˈvəl-nər-bəl\ : easily hurt or harmed physically, mentally, or emotionally : open to attack, harm, or damage

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Blog Goals

On the blog that I previously wrote in, I made a goal to blog every day. I haven’t lived up to that goal, but I have gotten pretty close. I think what’s most important is that I haven’t given up when I did forget. I just blogged the next day or at least when I remembered.

Here are a few things I remind myself in my attempt to accomplish my resolution:

1.) You may only get one reader a day, and that’s okay.

2.) You may get no readers sometimes, and that’s okay, too.

3.) You started this because you wanted to keep up your writing skills, and hopefully improve them.

4.) You need to carry around a small notebook or you will forget your blog ideas.

5.) Personal blogging is a good way to organize your thoughts.

At the end of it all, even if I don’t “get much” out of this resolution, I will at least have the satisfaction of accomplishing something. That’s why I have also resolved to make my bed every day. I have actually noticed that making my bed first thing helps me get my other responsibilities rolling.

I am still a dreamer.

IMG_0892I am still a dreamer. I have fantasies about where my life will take me and it’s often to a place that is grand and difficult to get to. But I am still a dreamer.

I am still a dreamer. My dreams don’t always end up somewhere magical. But I am still a dreamer.

I am still a dreamer. My kids make me crazy. A lot. I love them. A lot. But I am still a dreamer.

I am still a dreamer. I ate half the bag of Easter M&M’s and I #cantstopwontstop. But I am still a dreamer.

I am still a dreamer. I stay up late everyday and hate myself for it, everyday. But I am still a dreamer.

I am still a dreamer. When I start something, I can’t let it go, I must keep doing it even when I don’t see the value anymore. Because I know that one day its value may return. But I am still a dreamer.

I am still a dreamer. It makes me happy to dream. So I am still a dreamer.

Nothing In Life Comes Free

This is a topic of conversation among all groups of people, regardless of political or religious tendencies. Eventually, we all realize that nothing comes without a price. Even the rugged panhandlers that hold up handmade, cardboard and black markered signs, who saunter past my car while I hastily search my console for something to give away, are giving up something to be there. You could say it’s their dignity, but that would imply that dignity was important to them at some point; and if it was, it was probably lost well before they were living by the littered creek on a busy East Arlington street corner.

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Somehow, the purpose of hard work gets thwarted by personal desires and comparisons. Which on the one hand is a great motivator to do something more, but on the other threatens our inner sense of self and confidence.

MCM

Be Like Those Women

I have been envisioning what the past must have looked like for women. I think about all of the westbound pioneers, washing their clothes (and sometimes the clothes of 10 children) by hand, making bread everyday, keeping up on the cleaning, gardening, etc. Not to mention, the types of things that put everything on hold, like children getting sick. Then, I hear about these same saintly women actually getting involved in their communities, representing women’s suffrage, writing newsletters for women’s groups, and sometimes even working as nurses or midwives. It’s amazing to me since I feel like I’ve had a bad day just because I had to go grocery shopping for two hours. However, it also inspires me tremendously. I don’t want to do anything that takes me so much away from my children that they don’t consider me their primary caretaker. I want to do something I love, and I want to teach my children what the value of hard work looks like. We_Can_Do_It!I think if I have enough time to binge watch Psych twice a week, then I must have enough time to take a class, learn a new skill, or help someone else in need.

I think that one of the greatest skills that my mother taught me was hard work. She had to work for our family, so many responsibilities fell on me and my older sister. I resented it at the time, but quickly learned how different my work ethic was compared to many of my friends because I had that experience. I think that my ability to work hard helps me progress in each facet of my life.

Maybe in a few years I won’t be as excited as I am now to take on added responsibility, but right now I am pretty ecstatic. I want to work hard, but mostly I want to feel that satisfaction that comes when I accomplish something because I worked hard.

 

What Does Marriage Mean to Me

I wish I could paint an adequate picture of what marriage is, but just this post (and, honestly, probably many others) will be my current contribution. 

 
Actually, let me tell you what it doesn’t mean to me.

It doesn’t mean I get to be the same person I was when I was single. 

It doesn’t mean I can say what I want and not expect negative consequences.

It doesn’t mean I married or bought a blank canvas where I can make it what I want.

It doesn’t mean I can be friends with whomever I want.

It doesn’t mean I can leave my home whenever I want, or without letting someone know.

It doesn’t mean I should care more about others than I do about the person I chose to share the rest of my life with. 

It doesn’t mean my indulgences don’t affect anyone else but myself.

It doesn’t mean I will be treated like the queen for the rest of my life. 

It doesn’t mean I can be offended about everything.

It just doesn’t mean anything selfish.

Marriage does mean:

Work.

Grit.

Stability.

Communicating. Constantly.

Changing. Consistently.

Loving. Unconditionally.

Anger & Fear

aI have been thinking a great deal about the role that fear plays in our lives. How often do we fear? Daily, weekly, once in a while? I think for many of us, it’s a common underlying player in our everyday decision-making, especially now.

I have said and done things as a parent that I thought I would never do, simply because I was subconsciously afraid that my child will resent me later and decide to sever his relationship with me. I think fear must run deep in our minds to compel us toward something that we may have sworn never to do.

One example of this in my personal life is my first child. I was so bent on never using the Cry-It-Out method of sleep training. I planned on being that dedicated, loving mother that indulged her child’s desire for motherly comfort. I actually thought I would enjoy this. I was horribly wrong. Once my son started to transition from newborn to infant, sleep-deprivation reared its ugly head and I delved into mommy anxiety and postpartum depression. I was desperate for some answers and realized that my best option and quickest path to better sleep and happiness (leading to better mothering) was to let him cry himself to sleep. Looking back, it was a relatively mild process, but it was soooooo hard at the time. I don’t regret it. I am grateful I made that decision. However, it was out of fear that at first I wasn’t going to try letting him cry, and then it was out of fear that I decided to let him cry.

When something close to our hearts is threatened, we become afraid and protective. Part of protecting that can be manifested in anger. To me, this is exactly the state of America. Everyone’s just afraid. Myself included, though maybe not for the same reasons that others are.

One thing that I know about emotions in other people, is that  one of the best ways to move past the most extreme ones is to validate them. Even if we don’t agree with them, we need to validate and acknowledge their feelings and then work from there. To me, it’s the only way.