Brene Brown gave a TED Talk (https://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability?language=en) on “The Power of Vulnerability” in 2010. That TED Talk has been watched over 26 million times. Perhaps there is something she is saying that resonates with many people, eh? In that TED Talk, she says a number of important statements, and a couple will be repeated here. She says that you cannot selectively numb and as she explains it, she means that if you work to numb down one emotion, then all of your feelings are effected. And she also says that we pretend what we do doesn’t effect others. Both of these statements were relevant to what couples sometimes bring to couples therapy. One of the two begins to do something and he or she pretends that it doesn’t effect the other. The other may well be hurt by the action or words and after enough encounters, the other begins to numb. In couples work, there is a strong dictum that the therapist has to go after both parts of the problem, has to work with what both sides are doing to make things work, has to go after getting both of the parties to change problematic behaviors. Interestingly, both of the actions mentioned here are not about being more vulnerable with the spouse, and they may even be the opposite, that is, they may work to decrease vulnerability. Every couple gets to decide how vulnerable they are going to be with each other, it is their relationship. In couples therapy, there is often a need to get the couple back to being at a comfortable level of vulnerability, rather than, from the example above, from the situation where one is living in a way that he or she believes problematic behavior is not really a problem and the other is numbing emotions to a better state of increased vulnerability and openness where they are both realizing that what we do and say matters and neither a numbing feelings and shutting their system down.
Watch the talk. See if you can increase your vulnerability in your relationship, if you want to.