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Friday, February 3, 2012
I know what you are thinking about that title, but that is not what this post is about, at least not for the most part.
Today I’m talking about the second of three navigational tools for marriage: Transparency.
If you missed it, you may want to go back and read about the first tool: Watchfulness.
The Naked Truth
Did you know that “nakedness” is actually the ideal condition in marriage? It’s true.
If you go back to the Garden of Eden, back to Adam and Eve, before sin entered the picture, here is how the Bible describes the situation:
Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed
That’s right. They were totally naked with and totally without shame. That’s the ideal state.
Lest you think I’m promoting some form of nudism, let me say that I strongly believe this verse is about way more than physical nakedness. It’s not even just about sex with the lights on. It’s about a state of existence, a way of living with your spouse that includes your spiritual life and your soul – your thoughts, desires and emotions – in addition to the physical.
Transparency is about nakedness in everything.
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
I received a Tweet from the @ThePureBed this morning that said,
To resist transparency and vulnerability with our mate is a sign of weakness, not strength. Opening a heart takes strength.Very timely and so true! Transparency is not the easiest road to travel. It’s especially difficult to share the stuff we consider bad or ugly about ourselves. That’s the stuff we tend to want to hide behind the proverbial fig leaves of shame and pretense.
But the truth is that the level of intimacy in your marriage will be capped by the level of transparency, and therefore, vulnerability, that you have with your spouse. That’s because intimacy, in my definition, is being completely known and yet totally loved.
The Trust Factor
Trust is often the deal-breaker when it comes to transparency. If you don’t feel safe to divulge your real self, you are a lot less likely to do it, plain and simple.
Trust develops in your marriage when unconditional love and respect are freely given on both sides. If the atmosphere is full of judgment, criticality and disrespect, trust cannot grow, and transparency will be greatly inhibited.
The thing is, when it comes to fostering trust in your marriage, you can only control you. But even though you only directly control half the trust equation, when you respond with love and respect (not necessarily acceptance or agreement) to whatever your spouse reveals to you, and when you push your own comfort level of transparency, it automatically shifts the atmosphere in the right direction.
It’s very helpful if BOTH of you expect unconditional love to given by the other. Shame and fear fight against transparency, but believing and accepting the love of your spouse is a strong weapon in battle for intimacy.
Divulge Your Dreams
Transparency is a vast topic that I’ve really only been able to give a surface level treatment here, but before I conclude I want to point to one other important aspect.
Transparency is only partly about opening up with your weaknesses and failings, but it’s equally important to nakedly share your dreams and desires with each other too. Don’t be afraid to share your big, bold dreams with your spouse. You are a team, and any dreams can only be reached together.
The same dynamic actually applies even to smaller, daily wants and wishes. If you really believe your husband or wife wants to love you well, you can help them by expressing your desires in a non-demanding, yet forthright manner. A comfort level with sharing small needs and requests opens the door to sharing the deeper things.
If you are on the listening end, don’t pour cold water on your spouse’s dreams and desires. It doesn’t mean you have to be 100% on board with everything immediately, but strive to be a good receiver. Be an encourager rather than a discourager.
I’ll leave you with an assignment: think of one thing, large or small, either a desire or a difficulty, that you’ve not been willing to share with your spouse before, and share it with them this weekend. Encourage him or her to do the same.
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More posts on Transparency:
- Choosing Trust
- Intimacy is Not What You Think
- How Shame Kills Intimacy
- A whole series on the battle with shame starts here
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