Being vulnerable is rarely at the top of my list of things to do today. But, there is no path to intimacy that does not involve vulnerability. Personally, I want to be strong. I want to protect myself from embarrassing situations. I want to look good in the eyes of everyone I come in contact with. And yet not one of those things helps me in my goal to connect with others. Especially not my partner.

Tom and I have been together since we were 16 years old. We’ve spent our entire adult lives together. In our 35 years of marriage and two years of dating we’ve discovered a thing or two about each other along the way. And each discovery came with a new level of vulnerability.

Vulnerability is about intimacy. Intimacy comes with exposing our true self to the other person. Being completely known by one person and still being loved by them is a blessing.

Vulnerability is about integrity. Integrity is when our beliefs, actions, and words all match up. When we are truly honest with ourselves and with our loved ones we honor them with integrity.

Vulnerability is about initiative. Being the first to speak up or act instead of holding back in fear. Being the first to say, “I’m sorry” or “I love you” can be overwhelming but with risk comes the reward of being true to yourself and your feelings.

Not long ago we attended a wedding for a young couple.

I don’t know about you but each time I attend a wedding it takes me back to my own. I didn’t know what I was getting into. We had no idea on that day what life would have in store for us going forward.

I didn’t make a copy of what I wrote in their card but it was something about always remembering to turn toward one another and not away from one another.

Tom and I have had to learn the importance of turning toward one another even when life is difficult.

We had to seek out counsel from others for guidance through those times when we wanted to turn away from one another.

We’ve had to struggle through the times of wanting to turn against one another.

Admitting that there is an issue that demands to be faced can be hard. Counseling seems to be a four letter word in some people’s ears and hearts. Or maybe the dirty word is actually W-O-R-K. Love is not supposed to be work according to Hollywood. According to the movies or romance novels when you fall in love everything in your life is supposed to magically fall into place and your ‘happily ever after’ begins with that first kiss. Well, wouldn’t that be lovely?

The reality is that long-term love requires hard work. Long-term love is golden because it has been forged in the crucible of determination, respect, and commitment. I like seeing young love but I admire and value old love. Old love isn’t phased by moods or circumstances. It knows that like waves on the shore times of adversity are a natural part of the rhythm of life. Dissonance adds depth to music because when the tension creating chords are resolved we find peace and beauty in the song.

Turning towards one another requires us to be connected with one another. Connection means we must be willing to seek out intimacy, value integrity, and take the initiative needed to do whatever is necessary to allow your relationship to grow deeper and sweeter with time. And as you look back over the moments of your life together take time to notice the golden cord of vulnerability and treat it with care day after day and year after year.

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