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Is Your Marriage Filled with Warm Kisses or the Chill of Rejection?


It’s vulnerable to want something. Have you ever noticed this? I want my lover to look at me with adoring eyes.  Then it happens. And you’re washed in goosebumps. Yes, a good feeling, but a naked feeling nonetheless. The exposure draws you toward your lover. But when the adoring eyes don’t happen, you’re washed in a naked shame. Now the raw exposure makes you want to hide.

Vulnerability is an inevitable part of being human. What we do with our vulnerability can get us deeper connections or leave us feeling alienated and alone.

What do you want?

We want someone else to know our desires for us, then to make then make them all come true without us ever once being vulnerable. We want to be Adrian in Rocky. But life doesn’t usually play out like a movie scene.

“What makes you happy?” is often the most difficult question for my clients to answer. It’s terrifying to want something and not get it, so we protect ourselves by hiding what we want in the basement of our psyche.

Hiding our desires, we imagine we won’t have to endure that naked chill of exposure.

The problem is remaining blind to our desires doesn’t make them evaporate. Our desires are sneaky and they slip in the side door or try to disguise themselves. This only makes us – and our mate – confused. Have you ever wanted the tenderness of a soft kiss, but because it’s too scary to ask for that, you shout, “We never kiss anymore!”

Can you see the irony? You’re hiding your desires behind an accusation. That has the benefit of a thick wool coat instead of the naked exposure of a request, but it doesn’t typically get you the soft kiss you long for.

When you lack clarity, you send a confusing message to your mate.

How Do You Protect Yourself?

So I’m supposed to send the clear message that I want a soft kiss?! Yikes!! Again, we want to be Adrian, protected by our wool coat against that frosty breeze of exposure.

Instead of asking clearly, we demand, we cry, we blame. Demands, tears and accusations are the way we protect ourselves from the naked exposure of a clear ask. It helps to see it as protection. Why wouldn’t you want to protect yourself when you’ve been hurt in the past? Those tactics seem completely reasonable until we investigate the results. I have yet to hear from someone who was successful in getting the soft kiss by yelling, stomping or accusing.

When you choose to mask your vulnerability in rage or distance, you make it difficult for your spouse to want to offer you softness.

Do You Retreat?

Because vulnerability is terrifying, we leave. Watch how Adrian backs up. Then she backs up more as she says, “I don’t belong here.” When she says, “I don’t belong here,” she looks lost. I imagine she wants to say I’m looking for a place to belong. But that’s too frightening.

We ask, then we retreat.

As soon as we ask we realize how vulnerable we are. We run in the other direction before our spouse can give us what we want. Again, it makes sense to run away; you’re feeling naked! But retreat brings rejection not soft kisses.

Vulnerability is shy and easily spooked. It needs patience. You need to stay in the moment if you’re going to get to the other side of naked.

Get Clear. Ask. Stay.

Now let’s look at Rocky in the interchange. He knows he wants to kiss Adrian. Everything in his demeanor is clear: I want to kiss you. So he invites her to take off her coat. She declines. He remains clear and tries to get her to sit down. She declines, but he knows what he wants.

He doesn’t demand. He is gentle. He doesn’t accuse. He compliments. His ask is very seductive. “I’m gonna take off these glasses.” And then, “I’m gonna take off this hat.” He stays even in the midst of her rejections. Even as she backs away.

Every time we feel vulnerable, we want a Rocky moment to come rescue us. We want our desire to come to us the way Rocky came to Adrian.

This is another way we hide. By waiting for our desire to come find us.

Don’t do this to yourself. Don’t wait for happiness. Get clear about what you want: take off your coat of protection and ask clearly for happiness to land in your lap. Then do the bravest thing of all: stay. Don’t run away. Don’t retreat. Remain in the circle of acceptance believing that you are worthy of receiving.

Vulnerability is an inevitable part of being human. What we do with our vulnerability can get us deeper connections or leave us feeling alienated and alone.


When do you feel most vulnerable? What do you tend to do when you feel naked or exposed? Please join my newsletter so we can stay in touch.

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