Updated: Sep 25, 2019
“Staying vulnerable is a risk we have to take if we want to experience connection” – Brene Brown
What creates deep connection?
How can we experience true intimacy?
What separates good sex from great sex?
All of us have these questions, longings and yearnings in our hearts. Sex is a fundamental part in our marriages. Sex is needed in order for a marriage to thrive - it creates excitement, mystery and fun. But sex is so much more than mere sexual pleasure and enjoyment, it is more than having an orgasm, it is more than just physical. Sex is as much a soulful, emotional and spiritual experience as it is a physical act and experience. Sex can create intimacy, it gives space for deeper and true connection, it creates closeness; it develops a sacred bond between two partners. Isn’t that something we all long for? Deep connection… True intimacy… Sex that feels good physically but fulfills us emotionally. Sex that makes us feel closer, makes us feel accepted, makes us feel loved. How can we get to that point? I believe vulnerability lies at the very center of these longings
What is vulnerability?
“Vulnerability is a state of being exposed to the possibility of being harmed”, according to the Oxford dictionary. That might sound a bit scary and daunting. Why would anyone want to risk being harmed or hurt? Being vulnerable is scary. You risk the possibility of being rejected, of feelings not being reciprocated, of being judged, of feeling embarrassed. But that is where the beauty of love comes in – it is being able to open yourself completely, putting your entire being in someone else’s hands, giving your heart to someone and trusting them to take good care of it and not to break it. It is a deliberate surrender to your partner without holding anything back. It is saying what you feel, without the fear of being rejected. It is speaking about what you like and what is difficult or hurtful without feeling embarrassed. Vulnerability is allowing yourself to be completely seen by your partner – with all your flaws, with all your beauty; with all your fears and insecurities; with all your fantasies and frustrations. It is a space where you are completely stripped from your masks – like emotional nudity. When we are vulnerable with our partner, a sacred and safe space is created between the two of you. A space where you can be brutally honest and open, but completely loved and accepted at the same time. It is the act of revealing yourself to your partner – body and soul.
It is in that space where good sex has the potential of becoming great sex. Can you imagine, not only having physical pleasure and fulfillment, but simultaneously feeling close, loved and connected to your partner. It is a state of utter bliss – becoming connected with body, soul and spirit. Bob Marley stated it so beautifully when he said: “Being vulnerable is the only way to allow your heart to feel true pleasure.” In order to get to this place, you need to become vulnerable with your partner.
How can I become more vulnerable?
Being vulnerable is not always easy as we are taught to protect ourselves and to guard our hearts as that keeps us from getting hurt. Becoming vulnerable is a choice that has to be made in absolute trust. Here are some pointers that can guide you and your partner on your journey to deeper connection through vulnerability:
Deciding to become more vulnerable can feel very good, but actually trying to be more vulnerable can be somewhat challenging. Exercises that can help with that is to ask yourself some important questions in order to discover your personal barriers to intimacy. Questions that you can ask yourself might be something like: “What is holding me back?”; “What am I afraid of?”; “Has being vulnerable hurt me in the past?”; “What prevents me from being vulnerable?”. You might want to take some time with these questions as the answers won’t necessarily lie at the surface, it may take some reflection and self-examination. Memories may arise that is painful but acknowledging these memories and dealing with them will help you and bring restoration in order to become vulnerable again.
The first step towards vulnerability is to risk sharing those answers with your partner. If it is difficult for you to be vulnerable, it’s a good idea to tell your partner that and to share why. It brings understanding between you two and respect for where you are in your personal journey. Sharing honestly and openly – whether it is easy or difficult – creates intimacy. You might also take the courage to tell your partner what he/she can do to help you take off your masks. The goal of this exercise is to have the courage and openness to be completely honest with each other. Examples of this might be like the following: “I am afraid that when I am completely honest about what I feel, when I am in a bad space, that you will feel as though my feelings towards you have changed and that it will have a huge impact on our intimacy and sex life. I am afraid that it will cause a barrier between us. I am afraid to hurt you by being vulnerable.” It can be good for your partner to ask questions, for example: “Why would you feel that”; “Did I ever make you feel guilty about your feelings”; “What can I do to help you to have the courage to speak openly to me?”
Creating a safe space
In the journey of becoming vulnerable in your marriage and in your sex life, you have to realize there is two of you and that both of you are different and experience vulnerability differently - but as Esther Perel said, it is in accepting the otherness that inspires closeness and intimacy. You can create a safe space through truly listening to what your partner has to say - by allowing them to speak their mind without taking offence or jumping to your own conclusions. You can create a safe space through your body language – having an open posture will help your partner in getting the confidence to share openly. Sitting with your arms folded, and your body turned away might steal the confidence. Creating as safe space is all about making your partner feel as though what they are saying and how they are feeling is important – that it is okay to be vulnerable and that you still have a deep love for them. The key to creating a safe space is and will always be love. When sharing your feelings, do it in love. When listening to your partner – listen in and with love (in your thoughts and on your face). When you respond to your partner – do it in love. When you are vulnerable, and you feel exposed – admit it in love. Creating and maintaining a safe space, where you and your partner can openly be vulnerable – you need to set love first above everything.
Vulnerability is risky, because we open ourselves to the possibility of being hurt, to conflict, to isolation and blame. But the invitation is to trust your partner and to make the decision to give your whole being into their hands and trusting them to handle with care. We have to take this risk of being vulnerable if we want to experience true connection that leads to deeper intimacy and better and connected sex.