How comfortable are you with being yourself to your partner? It seems hard to imagine that after living with someone for years, that we wouldn’t be ourselves. However, in marriage counseling, clients often express behaviors and communications that indicate hidden issues that are not being addressed. Being ourselves versus what we project out for others to see, even within our family, to our children and loved ones is a common challenge. Below are a couple of examples that show how and when intimacy and insecurity are at odds.
One good example is the lack of communication between teenagers and parents. A child may be expressing difficult behavior, such as ignoring a request or forgetting to complete a task. It might even be direct disrespect. Parents complain about disrespectful teenagers, but the focus becomes the behavior and not the true or root cause. Too often the complaint and focus is the poor choice of behavior and not the intention or motive underlying the behavior. The opportunity to discuss the issue in an open and honest dialogue could be lost. Of course this example pertains to older children.
Desiring change before you are clear about the issue is jumping the gun. This is the first lesson in not being able to express intimacy. Being unable to talk about why the choice is being made for a particular behavior could help both parties understand each other. “Acting out” or “being reactive” are indicators of discomfort, pain, and cries for help. Any behavior that shames or judges without being informed first, it’s unproductive. You may get the reaction you desire in the moment, but long term you will have created a distancing and abandoning pattern.
Another example is the inability for couples to discuss “touchy” subjects. A similar indicator of poor communication skills. Shaming and critical voice, learned in childhood, couples become resentful and angry with each other. If the focus of your upbringing was mainly about your behavior and your inability to change, then the process to understand and feel safe to talk about your feelings was short circuited.
The desire to be understood and heard is crucial to a healthy life. Especially if that life is shared with others. The key is to understand how being yourself and knowing yourself works in your marriage. Expressing your true feelings allows your loved ones into your life and into an intimate part of yourself.
Just complaining about or wanting to change children’s or spouse’s behaviors before asking questions and asking about feelings and experiences doesn’t work. Wishing life would go differently doesn’t work. This type of denial is indicative of an insecurity around closeness and intimacy.
True intimacy can be experienced when a person knows they are vulnerable, needy, and have strengths and weaknesses. Insecurity is a fear based belief that you will not be loved or accepted if you show vulnerability or true feelings. Don’t let insecurity in your marriage steal your relationship from you. Fight for your self, by trusting others and yourself. Don’t let insecurity win. Give your true needs and feelings a voice.