Better Together: Consistency, Vulnerability, and Lightening Your Load

written by Nathan & Kelli

Better Together: a weekly newsletter with ideas on how to improve your marriage and how to live a happy and productive life.

From Our Lives

A couple days ago one of us started to bring up a concern, “I am concerned that you…” And that is where the discussion started to get a little bumpy. The concern was about something the other person had said a couple days earlier. How can we be open with each other if our concerns end up being the cause of concern for our partner? This is a strange circular world where by being open with each other we are causing more problems, not less. Or are we?

After discussing this for a while, we realized that no, we still need to be open. In fact this is why it’s so important to be open. The whole idea of being open with our thoughts is to have two brains processing those thoughts, noticing patterns, finding blind spots. If we start to have more frequent negative thoughts, our spouse will be seeing this pattern, and at some point our spouse may say something like “have you noticed you are having negative thoughts more frequently?” That’s okay. They aren’t saying “and stop having them”, instead, hopefully, they are saying “Have you noticed this? I am concerned about you. Can I help?”

Now, if we see ourselves as independent and healthy, someone suggesting we are slightly broken, may come across as negative. We may start to worry they won’t like us, they can’t love us in our broken state. This is where we start to get defensive, we want to prove we aren’t broken, that they can still love us. Instead, if we realize, none of us are perfect, and we are all broken in our unique ways, then we can approach this new information from a place of inquisitiveness. “Interesting, I hadn’t noticed this.” or “Why do my negative comments bother you?”

As we are willing to be truly vulnerable with each other, it allows both of us to better understand each other, and allows both of us to see our own shortcomings and blindspots so that we can fix them. It may be more comforting to live in a world of denial, but ten years from now our comfort zone will still be the same size as it is now. We want to grow, and that means being outside our comfort zone and being vulnerable, where we can find our true potential.

The Couple Project

“In reality, all our stuff weighs us down. And our pursuit of ‘more’ often distracts us from what’s truly important in life. I genuinely believe that our never-ending material quest is not only sabotaging our financial tomorrows, but also negatively impacting our psychological todays.” ~ David Chilton

— Go read our newest article: “The Wealthy Barber Returns” - Book Review

What We Have Been Reading

“As relationships progress, each person gets more real, more transparent, and therefore more vulnerable. None of us has it all together, and none of us is without our idiosyncrasies or insecurities no matter how together we may appear. And here’s where the real magic comes in—the more honest we are, the more we can discover that our partner really loves us for who we are, and not the idealized version of us that shows up when we first begin to date. Vulnerability creates trust, and trust is the oxygen your relationship needs to breathe… Trust is the backdrop to any relationship. It’s an action word—both a verb and a noun. Trust happens in the little moments when we show our partner we are there for them and they do the same for us. Trust is built in small moments of attuning to our partner, and listening like a friend and ally when our partner is experiencing a negative emotion—sadness, anger, disgust, or fear, even if those emotions are about us. In all of our decisions we’re thinking of maximizing our partner’s benefits as well as our own. Mutual trust rests in the belief that both of us are thinking for two. We aren’t negotiating for the best deal for just ourselves. We’re always considering the cost of any choice for our partner, too.”

— “Eight Dates: Essential Conversations for a Lifetime of Love" by John Gottman et al.

“People need three things to flourish. We look for competence—the need for mastery, progression, achievement, and growth. We need autonomy—the need for volition and freedom of control over our choice. And finally, we strive for relatedness—the need to feel like we matter to others and that others matter to us.”

Video Game Obsession Isn’t Really About Video Games.

“Consistency and empathy are essential in true partnerships. If your partner asks for a hug after a rough day and half the time you’re happy to do it but sometimes you snap at her, she’ll learn she can’t count on you 100 percent of the time.”

Virginia Pelley

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Written and published by Nathan & Kelli.

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The purpose of “The Couple Project” is to learn more about what makes a strong marriage or relationship. We share what we are learning, which ideas we are trying, and which ideas helped improve our relationship. We realize not everything that works for us will work for you, but we still hope you will find our journey valuable.

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