Our curiosity and openness to others is often at its peak when we are just getting to know them. We want to find out all about them – and tell them about ourselves. In the spirit of discovery, we share stories, explore similarities and differences, and treat each new revelation as a precious pearl!
With the passage of time, however, we often start to close down. We may begin to hold back things about ourselves and stop inviting our partner to share aspects of themselves. It is as if the shell closes back up and the pearl disappears.
In your relationship, has curiosity or openness diminished with time? Have you tended to be more closed in any way? Are there any kinds of things that you tend to hold back from your partner at this stage of the relationship?
The tendency to hold things back often comes from the best of intentions. We don’t want to upset a partner, rock the boat, or bring up negative issues. We would prefer to pretend that everything is all right rather than bring up anything that might be disturbing. It’s about playing it safe.
So, we begin to hold back certain feelings. Perhaps we don’t ask for what we really want or need, or we withhold information. In this way – holding ourselves back – we start to close down with each other. We build up a protective shell around things in us that we judge as potentially upsetting or “negative” – things that we think should not be let out.
But in avoiding the negative parts of ourselves, we tend to lose access to the positive parts as well. Withholding anything seems to automatically lead to holding back all forms of our energy. As energy is held back, our overall spontaneity and aliveness in the relationship decreases. We then may find that we are bored, and if we don’t see that we are the ones holding back, we may mistakenly blame our partner.
The card REVEALING invites you to clear away any blocks that keep you from being fully available in your relationship. To do this, you may have to overcome the early messages from childhood that underlie your tendencies to withhold – like “Don’t upset your parents,” “Nobody really cares what you want,” or “You shouldn’t feel that way.”
Remember that revealing your inner self to your partner is a vital part of authentic relating. You and your partner may need to set aside a time to explore things together, especially if you are out of the habit of doing this. As you begin, you may first want to discuss guidelines for sharing feelings, wants, and needs – or different kinds of information. How can you do this in ways that will be constructive and feel safe? Talk about how you can be respectful of each other – and avoid dumping things on each other in the name of “honesty.”
Then, if you have things on your mind, you might choose the least significant ones to bring up first. Get in touch with – and state – your positive intentions for the relationship as a part of revealing anything. Be kind – to your partner and yourself. Whenever possible, state things in the positive.
In revealing that which you hold in darkness, you and your partner can find the pearls that are truly there. Rediscovering your ability to be open and vulnerable, your inner beauty and aliveness will shine through to each other once more.
Get the effective coaching you need for lasting relationship change. Learn about our couples retreats and marriage retreats »