Strength in Emotion

Unfortunately, especially for men but also for some women, people sometimes believe that feeling and expressing strong emotion is a sign of weakness, but I think it’s just the opposite. It shows great strength to not only acknowledge strong feelings to oneself but also to express said feelings to a loved one. It’s fucking scary.

Recently I met a young man who was in a fairly new polyamorous relationship. He was not only new to the relationship, just three months into it, but his new girlfriend also had just introduced him to the lifestyle of polyamory. He was very excited about the possibilities, and the possibilities are truly endless, but there is just one problem: for an open relationship to work on all levels, one must be comfortable (nay, enthusiastic) about expressing emotions. This young man told me that he felt strong feelings of love for his girlfriend, but he was not yet ready to express those feelings because it made him feel too vulnerable. 

Unfortunately for us both, our short relationship ended as quickly as it started, so I never got a chance to encourage him to express those feelings to her, a woman who openly discusses how her best relationships are “intimate, vulnerable, and real.” One of my regrets is that I never got to meet her. From her profile, she sounds a lot like me in the way she views relationships, emotional intensity, and the importance of communication. The reason it ended so quickly is because I openly expressed what I was feeling, as even he had encouraged me to do, but he must’ve been rather uncomfortable with my expressions of confusion and a possible misunderstanding, judging from his reaction. He ended things before they even really began. It still makes me sad even a month later.

And although I still question that one text that was the catalyst to end a budding secondary relationship, I know I did the right thing. I’ve been blissfully married for 11 years. I know what it takes to cultivate and maintain a healthy relationship: frequent open & honest communication. If a potential partner is unable to handle that, then it wouldn’t have worked out anyway. Ending so soon does leave for many unanswerable questions, but the pain is ultimately less than finding out a month or two or six down the road. A fear of intimacy is a fear of intimacy.

“Never apologize for showing feelings. When you do so, you apologize for the truth.” ~Benjamin Disraeli”

This might come as a shock to you, readers, but I have very little trouble expressing my emotions. Sometimes it is very scary to do so, especially with a brand new relationship, and perhaps I am too eager to discuss emotions–too eager, that is, for most people. And yes it’s fucking scary, for this very reason. Open your mouth, reveal your heart, expose your fears, and you might very well be left standing alone.

Herein lies the courage. This is where you need that inner strength.

It is much easier for many people to just keep their emotions to themselves, not risking the reaction of their loved one, which is often not at bad as one might expect. My example not withstanding.

A friend of mine has been trying to mend the chasm of silence between he and his wife. When they communicate, it’s usually in the form of fighting. Their exchanges have become tense and unwelcome, both too stressed and unhappy to try and regain the emotional intimacy they once shared. He reached out to me for advice, and I told him what I say over and over again in this blog: you have to talk with her. Not yell at her. Not listen to her shout at you. You have to sit down and talk, reveal yourself and invite her to do the same. It took weeks of encouragement from me before he worked up the courage to do it. And when he finally did, there was no explosion. There was no threats of divorce. There was no shouting.

They talked.

They began to understand each other again.

He started to bridge that gap by just talking to her, by just expressing what he felt and asking how she felt.

I finally was able to convince him to take that leap after he told me about something he wanted to do now that it was colder, and it turned into the perfect analogy. He spoke of keeping a bucket of water outside all night long so that there was a thin layer of ice on it in the morning. Then each morning he would go out in his boxers and douse himself with the ice water, shocking his body. It’s actually quite healthy. He said that the anticipation of it is far, far worse than actually doing it. After the initial shock, you realize that it wasn’t so bad, that you could handle it.

And that’s what it’s like when you talk with your spouse or SO…the anticipation and anxiety over what they might or might not say is far worse than the reality. Ensure you preface your talk, especially if you haven’t done so in years, with your intentions. Create a safe, loving space free of anger and judgments. Tell your SO that you just want to get to know each other again, that you want to be closer to them again. How could they say no to that?

So find that courage to talk with your spouse. As so many readers misunderstand, this blog is not about promoting polyamory or an open lifestyle, it is about building intimacy between two people. Because no one should even be thinking about an open lifestyle until one’s primary relationship is so solid that it is unbreakable, so honest and so open that true intimacy is reached and maintained.

Communication. That’s what it’s about.

Find that courage, a beautiful world of truth and love await you.


Article of interest:

How to Release and Prevent Resentment in Your Relationships

~ by omgrey on November 23, 2011.

6 Responses to “Strength in Emotion”

  1. Beautifully put.

  2. There’s a story being put out in UK therapy circles of a wife discovering her husband’s porn use – which sounds as though it had led to bad financial decisions – and despite it not being mentioned what boundaries they had agreed, the discovery is assumed to be of a deception and betrayal, almost as if one spouse has no right to an individual sex life. I wonder if courageous communication could have helped this scenario, but I’d more appreciate the thoughts on whether the wife’s anger would be the same if it was a non-sexual debt that had been run up – and the issues indicated by her “shouting at him not to fucking touch me with his dirty, wanker’s hands” – it’s only part one of the article, but seems to be making a lot of assumptions of a spouse’s ownership of all parts of their partner’s sexuality. Interested in your comments:

    • Very interesting and heartbreaking story. Seems to me that it was a deep betrayal, both financial and sexual infidelity. He wasn’t only watching porn, which would’ve constituted infidelity in my mind, he was paying for online cybersex with live women, in essence, prostitution. This is most certainly cheating. The wife has every reason to be angry and upset. And, on top of it all, he was going to a therapist for this addiction, which is promising, but he should have turned to his wife.

      Of course people have a right to their own individual sex lives, but if they have chosen to share life with a romantic and sexual partner, with whom they have an understanding of exclusivity and monogamy, any outside sexual activity is cheating if they’re hiding it from their spouse/SO.

      I think the wife would’ve been angry with him for the financial infidelity alone, like if it had been gambling or spending or whatever, but it has insult (and humiliation) to injury that it was also a sexual infidelity.

      I’m not sure about ownership of sexuality, but it does betray a trust and respect.

  3. Expressing emotions from a man or women who suffer from PTSD is very difficult leaves us feeling wide open for attack and pain. But I have learned to be open and upfront to those I love is better than hiding under our vail of darkness. It takes courage to open our hearts but only when we do, does true happiness find us.

    • Agreed. It takes so much courage to open your heart under normal circumstances, but even moreso to open your heart after suffering such debilitating trauma (especially at the hands of another person or lover).

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