What is the secret to closeness?
Love involves knowing someone. We must allow the other person to know us and vice versa. The problem is most of us spend a great deal of time and energy avoiding being known. We share little about our deepest longings and beliefs. Self disclosure is difficult because we want so much to be loved. So we present ourselves in ways we think will be acceptable to the other person. We hide what we consider to be our flaws.
We also hide our inner self because we were never taught how to reveal it. Our parents didn't model this for us. Instead, we saw them in fixed roles that they had adopted in their distant past. We learned to adopt roles to conceal our inner selves.
We also hide to avoid change. Opening up to others requires changing our usual behavior. It changes our image of ourselves. It is much easier to continue to behave in routine ways and to never take risks in our relationships.
To create a vital marriage it’s essential to reveal yourself. If you reveal yourself it will encourage your partner to do so. This means telling him or her your innermost feelings. It does not mean blasting him or her with anger. In order to get a rose bud to open up you do not pry open the petals. Human beings need gentle treatment. Start by commenting on things that please you or by telling him or her about happy events, or dreams or wishes.
Don’t expect this to help overnight. Your partner may not respond to this as you hope. In fact, you may get a response that upsets you. For example, your partner may laugh at your expression of feeling. If your partner laughs or reacts negatively this may simply mean the change in you scares or surprises him or her.
Handle any negative reaction you have to your partner’s response by revealing it without blaming. For example, you might say, "I was laughed at as a child and felt shamed and so your laughter bothered me." If possible give a specific example from your childhood.
Another important reason to self disclose is that we don't know ourselves unless we open up. When we hide things from others we end up also hiding them from ourselves. Hiding things takes a great deal of energy and puts our minds and bodies under stress. Although you would like your partner to open up to you, you can only work on your side of things and begin to open up to him/her.
“God wants us to grow up, to know the whole truth and tell it in love - like Christ in everything.” Ephesians The Message