She was angry. She yelled at him across the room begging him to say anything, anything at all. He remained silent once more.
They had been fighting more frequently in the last months. It usually starts with a silly comment or gesture and quickly escalate to voices raised, blunt words, tears shed – more hers than his since silence was his golden weapon.
She knew she was picking up a fight intentionally, mostly to instigate a reaction from him. Though she knew better than this, it was as if she could not refrain herself from acting deranged. Deep inside she wanted him desperately to open himself up to her. It seemed nonetheless that anger was all she had left inside.
Every time, she would say to herself she will handle it differently. More calmly and empathically. And every time she would end up falling short on that promise. They would exchange their twisted and angry-loaded perspectives until the last word heavily hit the space. When the silence would no longer be bearable, they would walk away from each other sometimes, or hug and apologize to one another the remaining times.
Reflecting on her anger later, she became aware that her aggressiveness had been hiding a lot of pain and fear. Accumulated pain from their relationship, perhaps even from her own past. Fear of loss and rejection mirroring some dysfunctional patterns of primal relationships.
On a second thought, she realized that she has not been fair with him. By demanding him to talk about his emotions, she was asking him to be vulnerable, to become emotionally naked in front of her. And while she was convinced that she has been doing the same, she was not.
Her anger was masking her underlying emotions, preventing her from being in touch with her most vulnerable self. Being vulnerable was scary – at least this she could admit to herself. This meant he was scared too. Despite their distinct way to deal with their emotions, they had found their common ground.
Next time, she suggested getting professional help and they eventually decided to give couples therapy a chance. This was the start of a new chapter together.
This could be my story as much as your story. Above all, this is a love story. If there is any major takeaway, for me it is about the transformational power of vulnerability. In any given relationship, showing your vulnerable self is key to an open and authentic dialogue.
It is time to leave aside the assumption that being vulnerable equals to show weakness. Embrace instead the thought that vulnerability is the love language.