Vulnerability {opening up}

Jon and I will be married for 5 years this fall, together for 8.  While we are by NO means experts in relationships, we have had plenty of opportunities along our lives together to become experts in us.  It happens organically – over time you just learn everything about your spouse or significant other (also friends, coworkers, etc) of what can brighten their day, what makes them tick, what buttons to press, how to cheer them up, etc.  It’s a part of human nature as you spend countless hours with them and learn their behaviors.

I’ll never forget the first real fight/argument Jon and I had while dating.  I can’t tell you what it was about {I can’t even tell you what I had for lunch the other day!} but I can tell you the part I remember – him ready to throw in the towel and walk out.  Why? Because that’s all he knew.  The relationships he had, till that point, would hit a moment through argument or whatnot, and it would just fizzle out.  I remember that I told him he wasn’t going anywhere and the whole mood changed.  We talked about how some things are worth fighting for, and sticking through.  We learned a lot about each other and I learned he wasn’t used to opening up about how he felt. Maybe it was in fear of making the situation worse. Who knows.  But I really had feelings for this guy and I really wanted to learn how to work together.

We moved in together before we were married.  But all bills were handled separately. He had his, I had mine.  It was a way to stay in control.  When it came time to decide if we’d join accounts or stay separate, we decided to join, but keep our own accounts for small amounts of money.  We decided this would help if we wanted to spend money on our own thing and not have to worry about “checking in” with the other.  Over time, it just got annoying (right after we moved into our house) because we had to report every account opened.  We had about 4 checking accounts and 4 savings account between the two of us.  Not sure if you’ve applied for a home loan before, but they want the details of ALL OF THEM.  After that, we made the decision to combine everything, close our own personal accounts, and keep 1 separate savings account to try and build up a nest egg.

Where am I going with all of this?  We had to talk, and release some of the pride and power we held on to as human beings.  We discussed openly who would handle the bills and paying them.  For awhile, it was him.  Then, it moved to me.  Primarily because his work schedule was all over the place between 2 jobs and I was the constant at home.  To this day, I still do it. But as discussed in my Budget & Accountability series, we were open about everything and found out what worked best for us.

I had a conversation with a friend about burden.  It’s very easy, at times, to see your spouse/SO under a lot of pressure with work, or obligations, etc.  We don’t want to bring up minor things we can take care of.  I see it as a way of just keeping some things off their plate.  But over time, 2 things can happen.  One, you get burnt out, can become resentful at them for “not knowing,” or so overwhelmed you just break down.  Two, the other person finds out all you’re holding in and they get resentful or upset or wonder why you were not able to open up to them.

Do you take the time to be open and vulnerable with your spouse or significant other? What about your friends? I know I’m very guilty about the friendship part. I feel my friends have their own lives going on, and the last thing I want to do is be the complaining friend.  But, sometimes they might have a real piece of wisdom that I really need to hear.

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