Let’s be honest: Authenticity with your spouse can be scary at times.
You want them to know everything about you, but at the end of the day… you also want them to love you. It’s difficult to trust another person with our “stuff”- you know, the things you like to hold onto and stuff deep down. If you’re struggling opening up to your spouse for any reason, here are some strategies to help:
Be Authentic With Yourself
The classic age old, “It’s not you, it’s me”, most definitely applies here. If you are interested in having an authentic relationship with your spouse, you have to start first with being authentic with yourself. The last thing you want is to be out of touch with yourself and send mixed messages to your spouse about who you really are and what you need from them. Take some time, do some soul searching, and nail it down.
Build Trust Slowly
Your marriage is not the Kentucky Derby and you do not get a prize for reaching the finish line first. The goal is to work on trust TOGETHER. In marriage, either you both win or you both lose. So, take baby steps. This is especially important if you and your spouse are trying to rebuild trust after an epic betrayal. Give one another time to accept new truth and recognize you’re each on your own journey trying to figure out how to navigate the road ahead. Remember, slow and steady wins the race.
Ask For Help
If you are struggling with being authentic with your spouse, you need to ask them for help in doing so. A great way to start that conversation is by saying, “I am struggling being real with you because I am scared that _______, and I need you to help me not be scared by _________”. Fill in your blanks. It could be fear of rejection, fear of loss of love, or even fear of admitting your truth out loud. Your spouse might be able to help you by not responding until you’re finished, by holding your hand, or even by asking you open ended questions to help you get started. Whatever it is, verbalize what you need and trust your spouse to be there for you.
Own Your Mess
Put aside your pride and be able to say, “I messed up”. Remember how I said that if you’re not both winning, then you’re losing? Well, in marriage, it does not matter who steps up to the plate first, so long as one of you steps up. So, take the first step, or the second, or the third. Be humble and make it a point to own your mess and not expect anything in return.
Ultimately, be the spouse you want to have.
That means: be loving, be kind, be patient, be respectful, be tender, and don’t interrupt when your spouse opens up to you. By doing so you are much more likely to feel safe opening up knowing you’ll get a tender response in return.
Written by Anna Collins
Anna Collins lives in sunny Southern California with her husband and two children. She is passionate about her marriage, staying at home with her kids, writing, coffee, good conversation, and game night. Her life dream is to someday write a book and see it published.