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"Being Vulnerable and Direct Feels Wrong!"

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I’m going to share one wife’s “gut reactions”  to the list I gave of ways we can speak and communicate directly and honestly. It’s worth the time to really hash through these objections in our self-talk together. My original statements from a post last month about how to directly communicate our needs and desires are in bold. Keep in mind, when you read the statements I am sharing – that I am talking about a wife sharing these statements with pure motives, respect, a genuine smile, and a pleasant tone of voice. I am also talking about a wife sharing difficult things only after much prayer and in the wisdom and direction of the Holy Spirit. I don’t intend to say that we should share out of selfish or sinful motives.

I greatly appreciate this wife allowing me to share her thoughts – (they are in red):

 

1. “I need this, please.”

(Yikes! Do not tell anyone what you need or you will sound needy! And whiny. And do you really need it? No. Be grateful for what you already have.)

If I were being whiny, I would repeat myself over and over again and verbally try to force other people to do what I wanted and I would continue to verbally pressure them until they did what I wanted them to do. That is not a godly approach. But to share my desire or need one time in a pleasant way (or to share when needed, not in a nagging way) – is perfectly acceptable. There are a lot of verses that tell us to ask for what we need and desire – but that we are to do so with godly motives, not sinful motives.

Verses about asking for things

There are times we genuinely do need things. I think it is important to differentiate between a need and a want. There are things I want that I can live without. But there are some things I truly need – or that others truly need. We all do have legitimate needs – air to breathe, water to drink, food to eat, shelter, love, acceptance, purpose, forgiveness, grace, help, etc…

2. “I would really love to do that.”

(Maybe someday. Maybe after everyone else has their turn it would be okay to say what you’d love to do. Otherwise you risk upsetting someone who wants to do something else. But do not tell anyone or you’ll sound selfish and demanding.)

Perhaps you are thinking of this passage:
Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Philippians 2:3-4

But let’s read that closely. The key is that we don’t do something from selfishness, not that we have needs or desires. We are to think about others and their needs, considering other people more than we consider ourselves. But look at the last part, it doesn’t say, “don’t look out for your own interests and only look out for the interests of others.” We are allowed to look out for our interests – but we are not to do so in a selfish way or with sinful motives. And, ultimately, we are to seek God’s will above our own.

3. “I don’t like X.”

(So what? Am I queen of the world? We all have to deal with things we don’t like. Deal with it!)

God never says that we cannot have our own opinions, desires, preferences, and emotions. We are free to express them to Him and to others – again, as long as we do so with pure motives and we don’t try to force our way on others.

It is not sin for me to say, “I prefer Japanese food.”  Or “I don’t like being around a lot of cigarette smoke.” Or, “I don’t like for my children to see movies that are over PG.” Or, “I don’t like that color for the dining room – I like this other color the best.”

If others don’t agree, over the color of the paint for the walls at church – I can submit myself to whatever they would like and not cause a fuss. If my husband and I don’t agree on a paint color, I can decide to selflessly allow him to choose the color he prefers. But there is nothing wrong with me stating my preference calmly and respectfully. If we can’t agree, I may decide to acknowledge that the color of the room isn’t a big thing in the light of eternity.

4. “I want Y, please”

(Oh my goodness! This is the worst one on the list. Do not tell people want you want. Again, selfish. Begging. It’s worse than being forced to tell someone what you’d like for a gift. Who begs for gifts? This list is insane! This list is starting to frustrate me…)

God invites us to share our desires with Him. Jesus certainly expressed that He didn’t want to go to the cross. But then He submitted Himself to God’s will. Prayer is about our praising God, thanking Him, confessing our sins – but then it is about our sharing our desires and our seeking to line up our desires with the desires and will of God. As we approach God in prayer with our desires and seek His desires above our own, He helps transform our desires to match His own. But there is nothing wrong with us asking God for what we desires if our motives are pure.

James 4:1-10 is all about this. We don’t have because we don’t ask God, and when we do ask, we ask with wrong motives, that we might spend what we get on our own pleasures. The problem is not that we shouldn’t ask for what we want. God invites us over and over to ask of Him. But we do need to watch our motives.

Those who came to Jesus for healing, He often asked, “What do you want me to do for you?” And then, whatever they asked Him for, He would do for them. He healed them. There is no one I can think of who asked Jesus to heal them whom Jesus ultimately refused.

I can say,

  • “I really want another baby.”
  • “I want to spend some time together this week, Honey.”
  • “I want to think about changing careers. Would you pray about that with me, please?”

Verses about desires

5. “I feel scared/sad/upset/angry/happy…”

(Keep your feelings to yourself. Smile. If you share your real feelings you will be judged. People may get upset. You will look weak).

There is nowhere in Scripture (that I can think of) where we are commanded to be fake or told not to have or not to express our feelings. We are told not to “give full vent” to our every emotion – that would be foolish. We are not to share in sinful anger or in sinful manipulation. We are not to try to make other people do what we want. We do need to watch our motives and attitudes. Our feelings are not the source of absolute truth. We don’t have to be slaves to our feelings and emotions. But we are responsible to share our own feelings and concerns with God and with others when appropriate.

David shared all of the range of human emotions with God in the Psalms. Did God consider him to be weak because of that? No! God said David was “a man after My own heart.”

Sharing feelings and being vulnerable is  not “weak” – it is essential! Apart from vulnerability, there is no true intimacy or authenticity.

Verses about emotions

In the next post, we will address the issues of people pleasing that this wife voiced.

SHARE:

Do you feel safe to be vulnerable and direct in your marriage and relationships? If not, what fears do  you have that keep you from feeling like you can share?

 

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35 thoughts on “"Being Vulnerable and Direct Feels Wrong!"

  1. This was so good for me to read today. Normally I don’t struggle so much with these things, but lately I have started to feel guilty for talking to God about my desires even though my prayers are in supplication, ultimately knowing that God’s will is best. Sometimes I feel guilty for having any specific desires that are outside of direct ministry, which, like you said, isn’t biblical.

    1. Kristin,

      I pray you might experience the freedom we have in Christ – not freedom to sin – but the freedom to be our new selves in Christ, to be authentic, to be real, and to bring all of ourselves before God and before our husbands without fear.

      Praying for God to continue to help you grow in Christ and for you to have courage to express your desires to God and to allow Him to lead you in His will for each area of your life. 🙂

      Much love!

      1. Kristin, thinking of what you wrote made me think of something when it comes to God and us asking Him for fulfillment of different needs. If my english sound funny, it’s because I’m Swedish, so it becomes somewhat swinglish every now and then. Just sayin’. 😉
        Also your post, April gave me this thought and Kristins comment gave me a confirmation to share about it!

        For a time I’ve been feeling God is with me and is so good to me. I got a job that is a gift from Him alone, and I know it. Don’t take it for granted. But still, now I have that nagging feeling that it’s not alright to ask for more; He already gave me so much! But just now, God convicted me, and showed me a comparison to a situation at my working place, which could be an example how He thinks of me/us when I come to Him in prayer-time and devotion.
        At work-introduction, my employer had the great idea of putting into my schedule, specific times/appointments for guidance. Here I get to see a skilled person and sort of give her all my questions and we go them through one by one. While going through them, other areas where I need guidance show, and I get to ask about them as well. It is indeed a time when we sit down and are not bothered and she wants my questions! The next appointment of course she wants new questions and more questions! Then the LORD told me, our prayer time with Him, the Heavenly Father, is similar. This is the appointed time for us to come to Him and just put all our needs before Him; like
        “LORD, please help me with my temper. Tomorrow x is planned and I need your help to keep calm and balanced in You”.
        or my prayer outside of the second hand shop:
        “LORD, I would like to find a modest skirt, please help me”. (and the LORD answered me. 🙂 I Found 2 of them for under 10 Euro:) Inspired by wearing modest feminine clothing, b-cause of the Holy Spirits work in me, though this blog partly)).
        And then, we can still come back for more! We can still ask for more! More of Him, more help, more favor. It’s all just for His glory when we ask and He gives us.

        So I though the Lord wants us to realize we are His children. I would also say, we have a narrow picture of God as a Father and of Gods creation (=us and everyone around us incl. spouses? :)), if we’d always believe the lie, that no one’s interested in our desires and thoughts. I still have to exercise the principle of asking people for help, esp. those that are closest. But asking is like a muscle; exercise it and it inevitable becomes stronger:)
        Love in the Risen Son, the Spirit of life and the Father of love!

  2. Hi there.

    I really love your posts and they have been helpful to me in so many ways that I won’t go into right now. I just wanted to say, that I definitely do not feel the way this wife expressed. God gave us the abilities to feel, to express ourselves, and to communicate our needs and desires. A healthy relationship is one in which both partners are safe to express ourselves. And you’re right, it needs to be done in an honest and loving way. My feelings and desires are so important to my husband as his are to me! One of the things I treasure most about him is that know I can be vulnerable and honest with him and he receives it and responds to me with love and grace.

    Thankful for the wisdom with which God has blessed you to share!

    Nina

  3. Dragonfly,

    If you want to share how you learned to embrace vulnerability and directness and how it feels feminine now, I would love to hear about it. 🙂 Thank you so much for sharing a bit of your story! 🙂

    1. Dragonfly,
      I love this!!!!! Thank you so much for sharing. 🙂 Would you consider allowing me to share as a post, please? I think this may be such a blessing to many of our sisters and their husbands.

  4. I wonder if the unspoken fear beneath all the objections to being direct and vulnerable, is really more about facing the (perceived) pain of being vulnerable AND ignored.

    For example, saying ‘I want this…” only to have it ignored, or laughed at, or to have one’s character attacked because of it (Your so needy, whiny, weak, etc.)

    This, for me, was the underlying issue .I came by it honestly, as character attacks and emotional neglect were what was understood as parenting in the house of my youth.

    The freedom came, I believe, after naming each fear to the Lord and asking him to show me the lie that was in it. When I could see the lie like needing something ever is wrong – compared to the Word (even the Lord knows I have need of things! And He remembers that I’m made of dust!) Then, prayed up and asking for His strength and dependant on His Direction – I just did it. Said out loud “I want this…”

    It. Was. Scary.

    But, you know what? I didn’t die . Well, at least not physically. But the “old” me – the old man, as it were- the coward (I can’t do that – its going to hurt!) he died some more. And good riddance! He was (spiritual) death!

    And Christ came so that I might have life and Life more abundantly!

    Allejuiah!!!

    Over time, and with some notable hiccups, I learned to extend Grace and forgiveness to those who knowingly and unknowingly ignore the gift of my vulnerable heart. After all, this isn’t really about them, though they have been blessed in it (praise God!). But this is about letting the power of Christ work through me to do what He wills be done .

    And in that, There is Victory. 😊

    Praise God.

    1. Amber,

      Ooh! This is super helpful! Thank you for sharing the fear beneath the objections. That is very key. Breaks my heart to hear that character attacks and emotional neglect were parenting methods in your family. 🙁

      I’m so glad God helped you name each fear and lie and receive His truth! THAT IS AWESOME!

      Much love!

      1. Thank you, April, for your reply.

        I didn’t really begin to understand how these things 1) were different from other people’s experience and 2) affected my perspective – until, I was reading your blog, I believe.

        You were writing something about some people “paradigm’s” being different and that causing them to hear things other than what is intended. We are the ones who hear: Do not have an opinion when what is said is Learn to value your husband’s opinion. These things are vastly different to many people but for those of us whose very foundational understanding is misinformed the idea, at least for me at that point, I cannot value him unless I de-value myself . It is quite a battlefield and the enemy, I’m sure would like to keep us in chains to the miserable, twisted up reasoning that will keep us from experiencing true joy, and peace, and freedom, and forgiveness.

        These are mighty testimonies, I believe .

        At any rate, as the Lord causes all things to work together for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose – he worked that circumstance -I remember feeling your own pain over these wives pain- that blessed me, too – to see someone care (I have tears as I write this!). As an encouragement, my dear sister, the Lord is using you and Greg and this ministry in ways we cannot even fathom.

        Glory to God.

        1. Amber,

          It is these very deep core beliefs and understandings (and misunderstandings) – that I want to address. I believe that many of us develop warped ways of understanding relationships, ourselves, God, marriage, and others as children. We get some wrong way of thinking about something important – and it goes uncorrected – then we build our lives on that messed up, unbiblical misunderstanding and things eventually come crashing down.

          I know it is so painful to question and confront our fixed beliefs and core beliefs – but this is what must be done so that we can tear out the wrong thinking and replace it with God’s truth and wisdom.

          It breaks my heart to think that any wife would hear, “Don’t have your own opinion,” when I am talking about learning to value our husbands’ opinions. Thankfully – we can respect our husbands and ourselves and God. We don’t have to choose just one person to respect. Then it is a win/win/win!

          I wonder how we can dig deeper and address this more effectively? Please pray that God might give me wisdom to directly address the major lies that affect our precious sisters – that we might be able to tear down the lies with the truth and power of God’s Word and rebuild in accordance with His thoughts and His wisdom.

          Of course I care very much whenever my sisters or brothers are in pain! Especially unnecessary pain due to misunderstandings. I long to see every misunderstanding cleared up and all of us to think rightly according to Scripture. I long for each one here to find healing and freedom in Christ!

          Please continue to pray that Greg and I might be obedient and faithful to God and that He might speak through us and to those who read. Please pray God’s kingdom’s work might be done here and that it might be done well.

          Much love, my precious sister!

    2. xbexrel,

      This is NOT what any healthy marriage or family should be like. 🙁 It breaks my heart that anyone would tout these kinds of things as “Christian teaching.” I pray for continued healing for you my precious sister! Glad to hear you are doing better. How are you doing with this kind of thinking? Have you been able to replace the unhealthy ideas?

      Sending you a huge hug!

      1. zbexrel,

        I pray that God might draw you closer than ever to His heart and empower you with His power, wisdom, love, and strength to know exactly what will most honor Him in these difficult situations. It is not wrong for a wife to desire an intimate relationship. That is what marriage is supposed to be, after all! My prayer is that God will empower you to handle the strain and distance in a way that pleases Him even if your husband is not honoring Christ in how he handles things. But I also pray for God to bring your husband to Himself and to bring healing individually for each of you and healing for your marriage for God’s glory!

        Much love to you!

    3. zbexrel,

      I don’t want to scold anyone. My hope is to point everyone to Christ no matter what their personality or background. Those with really severe spiritual/emotional wounds may require additional help, as well, I believe.

      Much love to you! 🙂

  5. May I throw out another possibility with the paint color selection conversation? It may be that it’s a difference in conversation style.

    My siblings and I often had conversations that sounded more like negotiations when choosing what we were going to do together.

    For instance, if we were going to go out to eat one of us might say, “Where do you want to go?” That actually was understood to mean, let’s make this decision together but you tell me first what you want and then let’s talk about it more. It was never tense or argumentative, but just a friendly way of each person’s opinion being stated and heard and then talked about until a final decision with compromised was reached. I think we all enjoyed it.

    When I got married, I quickly discovered that not everyone made decisions that way. If my husband asked me where I wanted to eat, he didn’t want to have a conversation about it. He just wanted my opinion to be our decision. It was sad to me that we couldn’t decide together. But if I asked his opinion, it frustrated him if I gave mine that was different. It wore him out to talk at length about where we’d eat. I was just so used to the “dance” my siblings and I played. I never stopped to analyze that others did it differently. I eventuslly learned what I was doing naturally and innocently created problems with my husband.

    1. J,

      This is a great point! I know that my husband and I have conversations that start like this – but we each really do want to know what the other prefers, and we don’t have a hidden agenda to push. For us, it means we want to make the decision together. Or that one doesn’t have a big preference and wants to do what the other will enjoy.

      There are all kinds of different “cultures” in families. It can be tricky to decode everything when we get married. Sometimes we think we understand, but what a statement/question would mean in our childhood family may mean something totally different in our spouse’s childhood family.

      I’m glad that God helped you see what was happening so you could communicate more clearly. That was a blessing! 🙂

  6. From a wife who believed this same mindset and paradigm for decades – but whom God has healed in the past year and a half:

    I totally thought like the wife who had objections to speaking in direct, vulnerable ways my whole life.

    This way of thinking makes you a victim and voiceless then you freak out all over someone when they put that teeny straw on top of your huge anger that you aren’t allowed to admit or have or own or do anything about. And it makes you jealous of wives who “have because they ask,” annoyed that they are so unapologetically “demanding” as you see it. My old way of thinking was about righteously refusing to have needs, emotions, demands.

    It makes you really sick!

    Also can’t receive good stuff. I think it’s this false humility that simultaneously says you don’t deserve anything good, and being proud at how humble and unneedy you are. Then it’s about being a victim because no one understands how hard your life is. I felt I should have enough faith to be above struggles and emotions myself, even though I would never say anyone else should be. Part of it is the idea that “everyone else is more important than you, it’s in the Bible.” So being humble is not needing or asking or demanding. That’s for others.

    If someone says good things about you they are obviously lying or have a distorted perception the only thing that can be true is self-attack. Also, if I criticize myself enough, hopefully no one else will. If someone does criticize me, I am a complete failure and have nowhere to stand and collapse inconsolably. People’s approval seems to be the only gauge of hope, but then you don’t receive it either. Nothing is ever enough.

    So all time is spent trying not to need, trying to meet all others needs, trying not to mess up, attacking self with every mistake, guilt fear and failure. Trying to find life in dead works, which puts you under a curse. All this rule following and no joy or good results. Baseline it is unbelief. Hebrew 4. Can’t enter His rest if you hear the truth not mixed with faith.

    It’s saying Jesus saved me so I should be able to obey all of his commandments. It’s trying to please God without faith. Hebrew 11:6 says you can’t. Trying to please God by obeying without believing anything he says, receiving anyt hi ing but the most anemic salvation, not receiving His love, grace, forgiveness, power, mercy. Having no idea all of thr good qualities mentioned about him could somehow be directed to include you, too.
    It’s also being totally blocked by anyone who disagrees or says no to you, but not ever being aloud to say no or your dislikes to them. It’s remembering what caused someone to be upset at all, and making an inner vow to never mess up or cause a problem again.

    It’s not believing anyone could ever enjoy your company or love you because you don’t feel it, so it can’t be true. Biggest fears are being a burden, a failure and demanding. The only truth you hear are these accusing lies and and it somehow intertwines itself into the gospel to make it a non gospel. You buy into it completely.

    Idols in this mindset are false humility and martyrdom. No faith at all except the initial conversion from what I can figure. And even then, we can grow in faith, be set free from quite a few things, and fall right back into this prison. Behind the false humility is immense pride – pride, saving ourselves, and being wise in our own eyes. Pride that we are following rules, astonishment when we can’t follow rules that we weren’t successful since we should be. We are Christians! How can we fail God like this? So we attack and punish ourselves trying to help God with His disappointment in us. We try harder. Until we can’t try literally. Then we sink into depression and can’t be pulled out.

    Faith is the ability to receive from God. So we cry out and try to serve and love Him and repent and feel guilty, but we don’t actually exchange that guilt for forgiveness.

    – We cry to him that we feel alone and unloved and abandoned but we don’t receive that He really is here with us and will never leave us.
    – We complain to him that we can’t do what he asks us to, and basically say he is mean and cruel for not helping us, but we won’t receive his help. We don’t believe he will help so we don’t ask. And when we do ask we are full of doubt and therefore don’t receive, and validate to ourselves that He doesn’t care.
    – We are proud that we don’t burden God or others. We aren’t rude and don’t ask for stuff. We are busy getting things done for God and praying for people and trying hard to follow our rules. Until we fall apart.

    Then we are angry at God, ourselves and everyone around us except we can’t be angry, so this awful feeling stays general, unknowable and unfixable a and is more evidence of how God has abandoned us.

  7. It sounds like you are surrounded by abusive, dysfunctional people and in that case you are right to put up boundaries to protect yourself. But it would be great if you could pray and find a couple of healthy women that can love and value you like you deserve. One of the ladies God has used to help me is in a nursing home and has dementia, but she needs the company and she can say,”I love you!”. I have learned so much from her. The Bible says that the older women should show the younger women how to love their husbands and families. In your case, it would be like taking a vacation from a dysfunctional world to be around women that can show you the love of God. God bless you!

  8. There are a lot of times when it is totally appropriate and God-honoring to be selfless as wives and moms. But there are also times when it is totally appropriate to demonstrate that we are also whole people and that we have personhood. To know when to do which requires the wisdom of God’s Spirit.

    But if we are “so selfless” that we are filled with resentment and bitterness – that is a problem. Now we are dealing with sin that separates us from God and we are not walking in His Spirit’s power because we have grieved Him.

    Perhaps someone else might be able to explain this better than I can? Y’all are welcome to give it a go!

  9. Flower,

    YES! Awesome explanation! Our family loves to have the chance to see us happy just like we love to see them be happy. It is a gift to them when we allow them to do things that we enjoy sometimes. Especially if we are really excited about it.

    I know women who get SUPER excited about Christmas or gifts – they are SO much fun to give things to! Seeing them excited and happy is such a blessing! Just like it is such a blessing to see our children’s faces light up on Christmas, or to see them enjoy a roller coaster at the amusement park. Our family enjoys seeing that they can do things that light us up, too.

  10. Here is something I didn’t understand about men for a long time. Unless the man is seriously emotionally/spiritually wounded, mentally ill, or involved in major addictions/sin – most men are wired to LOVE to see their women happy. Men tend to measure their success as men, as husbands, and as fathers by the happiness (or unhappiness) of their wives. I don’t think they should use this as a gauge, personally. I would rather them seek to please Christ and seek to bless us – but not be too dependent on our happiness. But this is how a lot of men measure their success. When their wives are unhappy a lot – many men believe that means they are failures as men, as Christians, as husbands, and as fathers.

    We have a LOT of power and influence here, sisters. I pray we will be filled up with Christ and His joy and that we might greatly bless our husbands and families. A side effect of us knowing Jesus and abiding in Him is that we are joyful and content. This inspires our men to be better men, too. It is a win/win!

  11. This is a really good post. Something that jumps out at me is how all our self talk objections, (similar to those written in red,) revolve around seeking people approval, rather then Christ’s favor. They are all fear based responses based on what other people will think of you, how you imagine they will perceive you. The thing is “perfect love casts out fear.” That is fear that gives us that anxiety.

    We also cannot serve two masters at once, so if our minds are filled with other people’s words, other people’s approval or disapproval, real or imaginary, we can’t hear His voice and what He wants from us.

    1. insanitybytes22,

      YES! VERY, very well put. When we are seeking the approval of people and are living in fear of others’ opinions – we are making them more important in our lives than God. That is idolatry. And it is also unbelief in God and maybe a lack of proper reverence and holy fear for God – at least, I know those things were issues for me in my people pleasing.

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  13. In my experience people who have a difficult time sharing their emotions with their loved ones have feelings of worthlessness that were passed onto to them through someone in their lives. If your husband is struggling to be there for you and your kids emotionally, there is probably a specific reason (as you mentioned). It would be great if you feel like you could be his “safe place” which means give him a place to share his past experiences and hurts in a place where you don’t take any personal offense. I know it is really difficult because you feel neglected, but it sounds like your husband really needs someone to ask in a caring and respectful way what is causing the emotional distances between himself and others and offer to pray with him about it. It is very important to bring all our cares and concerns before God (which we hope your husband is doing), but healing comes through confession to God and to others (which could be you). Praying for you!

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