Women want love; men want respect. That’s the sentiment represented in the book, Love and Respect, by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs. What Eggrichs suggests is that women have a need to feel loved, men, to feel respected.
I’ve seen it myself over the years. Whether those specifics are true for every woman and man, I don’t know. But what I do know is that even though people have different needs, we do, in fact, need.
Being in relationship – whether with a spouse, children, other family or friends – is what life is all about. Relationships can be safe spaces but they can also be places of pain. Pain is what causes us to pull back to protect ourselves. All of us have opted, at some time or another, for self-protection above vulnerability.
And yet the need doesn’t go away, does it? We want to connect, to relate. We don’t just want to live together. We want to be alive together. That’s why we get disappointed when relationships fail. Disappointment is the flipside of the dream. This Valentine’s Day, my desire for us is that we get back to dreaming. And do you know where dreams can become real? Right in the hardest place of all: vulnerability.
So, V is for vulnerable this Valentine’s Day. Spending meaningful time together, almost in ritualistic routine, can be a wonderful way to connect with those you love. One couple I know – married for nearly 50 years – told me that the secret to their success was sharing a bottle of wine together every night. That’s how they’ve been bringing each day to a close, 48 years in. Is it about the wine? Absolutely not. Because another couple I know don’t share a bottle of wine. They share a bath. And another couple? Dessert. Every single night.
So what’s the real secret here? I think that it’s the sharing. Sharing a bottle of Merlot – and about your day. Sharing your heart as you put your head on a reassuring shoulder while the bath water runs cold. It’s meaningful moments that allow for connection with those we love. And in those moments, we open ourselves to the possibility of vulnerability, to the possibility of intimacy.
You might have a ritual and not even know it. Is it long walks together, your Golden Retriever in tow – walking and talking as the leaves fall around you in autumn? Or as the world turns back to green in spring?
Close your eyes for a few minutes and see if you have something like this in your life right now. Whatever your ritual is, see it and cherish it. And if don’t have one, then start one this year. It’s not too late. On Valentine’s Day, we’re so busy writing in Valentine’s cards that we forget to turn those words into action. Don’t let Hallmark choose your words for you. Find a moment to tell your loved one what they mean to you. And watch how that moment turns to meaningful.
And if you’ve shared a great love and your partner is no longer with you, then what a gift you were given. Cherish those memories. And then make new ones by finding places – and people – for vulnerability.
Happy Vulnerability Day to you!