I’ve been contemplating marriage a lot lately. What it means, what it takes to make it good, and where I can make mine better. Vulnerability is something that is talked about frequently in relation to marriage. But what does it does it really look like? The word usually denotes weakness, smallness, helplessness. But in marriage, vulnerability is openness, communication, trust.
I will admit that I don’t know how this subject applies in an abusive marriage (whether physical or emotional abuse). I praise the Lord that I have never been in that situation and can only write from a place of knowing a good marriage. As I was talking to my husband the other day I mentioned something about our marriage being good and he corrected my description to “great”. I smiled and agreed. Even though our marriage has had its rocky moments, overall it has been great.
And I write this article especially to other married women. I am sure there are a great many things that could be written to men on this topic, but I’ll leave that to the men (for now).
Before I married Christopher, something that I appreciated about him was his willingness and ability to answer my questions about spiritual matters. Whether it was about a particular scripture or theology or doctrine or tough questions of life, he always answered me. And if he didn’t know the answer or wasn’t sure, he told me he’d come back to me.
As wives, we need to make ourselves spiritually vulnerable to our husbands. Ask them those questions. Even if your husband is not the best spiritual leader, asking him questions will show him that you’re looking to him for leadership. It will communicate to him that you trust him to know the answer or find the answer.
An aspect of spiritual vulnerability is allowing ourselves to be led by him. Don’t chafe under his leadership. Encourage him, show him appreciation, open yourself to it. God has put him in the position of our leader – let him lead. Guide your children to look to his leadership as well. When the husband/daddy feels that his family is trusting him to lead them spiritually he is more able to do it well.
This speaks to more than just the sexual aspect of marriage, though that is certainly part of it. Letting your husband explore your body and being open to his advances is definitely a part of vulnerability. We should be doing those things. Our body image issues (and which one of us doesn’t have them!) should never be cause for us to shut our husbands out.
But physical vulnerability also speaks to allowing ourselves to be that “weaker vessel” that scripture talks about. Letting him carry our bag and open our door and do the heavy work. It doesn’t mean that we as women are weak or that we are unable to do those things. But letting him take care of us is an important part of reinforcing our trust in him.
When I was pregnant with Samuel and dealing with excruciating pain, one of the hardest parts was allowing myself to be taken care of. Nobody wants to need help turning over in bed or using the bathroom. I was completely vulnerable to him. It was difficult for me to see anything good during that time, but looking back I recognize how amazing Christopher was to me. It was like my vulnerability awakened a fierce protectiveness in him.
There are times when we come home very late at night. The children are in bed, Christopher has gotten the fire toasty warm, and I am sprawled out on the couch. He comes to me and begins to try to carry me to bed. And I resist. I tell him no, I can walk there. He lets me, but I wonder if I just spoiled an opportunity to be vulnerable to my husband – if I just communicated superiority without even trying to.
As amazing as my husband is, there are times when he wounds me – something he says, something he does (or doesn’t do). It’s part of being human and on this journey of sanctification. Neither of us are perfect. In those moments, as hard as it is, opening up and sharing our pain with our husbands is much better than holding it inside. Giving him the silent treatment only makes us feel worse and doesn’t communicate to him what’s really happening.
Be vulnerable to him. Tell him that he hurt you. Share how you’re struggling to feel close to him. If you sense your marriage drifting – becoming more of a thing of familiarity rather than passion and intimacy, talk to him.
You see, in all of this, the goal is increased trust and increased intimacy. Allowing ourselves to be vulnerable, bare and open toward our husbands tells them that we trust them. It tells them that we believe they will be good and kind toward us. It shows them that we still believe they are “the one” for us.
What are some things you’ve learned about being vulnerable in marriage? Are there other areas where we as wives need to be vulnerable toward our husbands? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!