The Heart of Being Vulnerable
Allow yourself to open up your heart to true intimacy.
Be vulnerable to love.
The vulnerable heart opens to a level of trust that the love of your life will honor your confidences, hopes and dreams.
Once you’ve been gifted this ultimate degree of intimacy, never, ever mock or use it to hurt.*
When love sparks in your heart, there’s always a risk of being hurt. You can hope that your lives will always be intimate
and comfortable. You can hope that your bond is unbreakable. You can hope that you will live happily ever after. The
truth is that you just don’t know. Opening your heart to love armed with only the promise of hope is one of the greatest
acts of courage you could possibly ever do.
To be vulnerable is more than sharing daily confidences. Being vulnerable involves finding the deeper truth of your
love. Imagine you’re lying in bed, each of you wondering if the other would agree to be intimate. Rather than make the
first move, do you turn to your side, preferring aloneness rather than the fear of rejection?
Or, are you able to be brave enough to know that “Not tonight, Honey” doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t hug,
cuddle, snuggle, rub a tired back, or apply lotion to weary feet? Are you comfortable enough with each other to accept
that sometimes a gentle touch is enough? To freely allow your love to know the intimate you, is to know your feelings,
thoughts, and weaknesses are fully accepted with total honesty and without fear of judgment.
To be vulnerable in love is one of the most precious gifts you could possibly share with another human being. When
your heart is open and vulnerable with your love, you’re truly and fully able to realize love’s richest rewards.
*If you should ever betray this trust, don’t pretend that you don't know why your partner starts shutting down to protect
herself or himself from future ridicule.
The Virtue of Patience
Cultivate patience by releasing your fairy tale notions of love and marriage.
Breathe deeply, stay positive and be patient with yourself and others.
‘Be patient. God isn’t finished with me yet’ is the saying used as a gentle reminder to honor the reality that humans are
constantly learning and growing. In today’s culture of instant gratification, the virtue of patience and
impatience plays a constant tug of war. While I’m grateful that technology has made it possible to provide an
encyclopedia worth of information with one tap of the finger, has that same technology spoiled partners to be less patient
with one another?
Remember when you were told to count to ten before getting ‘mad’ the time your sibling smeared lipstick
over your Beatles poster? Or when she stuck a frog in your purse? Well, it turns out that taking deep breaths actually
does help with learning patience.
Deep breathing plus positive affirmations are helpful techniques to teach the subconscious mind what it means to be
patient. Keep in mind that the subconscious is like a cabbage head and isn’t capable of knowing the difference between
the truth and a lie. Over time, the brain is capable of being rewired to think differently about the world. As positive
affirmations are said with high frequency confidence to replace low frequency or negative vibrations, like making
judgments about yourself or others, the brain starts processing a more constructive outlook on life. So if you truly set the
intention to bring more patience and peace into your being, then the following exercise will help when completed with
Mindfulness and breath awareness go hand in hand as cuddling goes with puppies. To begin deep breathing, sit
comfortably with your spine erect and feet on the ground. Sitting in this way aids in the flow of energy and keeps the
body grounded. Keep your palms open, resting them gently on your lap Do not cross your legs, ankles, or arms as that
blocks the flow of energy. There is no need for any fancy sitting like lotus style or with fingers touching, like a mudra. Just
be comfortable and open to receive the calming energy flow throughout your body. This isn’t hocus pocus, it’s just one
technique to add to your basket of tools to learn about being in control of the subconscious through breathing.
During deep breathing, whatever thoughts should come to you, no matter what they are, silently acknowledge the
thought and tell it that you’ll get to it later. After releasing the thought, return to the awareness of your breath.
Feel the lightness as the stress of the day is replaced with positive affirmations. When the affirmations are finished,
place your hands on your heart to lock in the tranquil feeling of being in control. Then slowly open your eyes. Don’t be in
a hurry or force it. Let the positive energy integrate into your being. Close your eyes and take deep breaths. You can
either memorize the affirmations provided or feel free to make your own. Listening to soft music or to a guided
meditation may also be used to encourage a tranquil feeling as the energy streams throughout your body.
Ready. Set. Breathe.
“Every day is the best day.”
“I AM patient.”
“I AM the best I could be.” “I AM creating the perfect day.” “I AM healthy.”
“I AM patient with myself and others.
“I AM relaxed.”
While breathing, close your eyes and picture yourself in your mind’s eye being calm and relaxed with different people,
places, circumstances and events. Repeat as necessary until you feel confident that you’ve integrated the affirmations
into your subconscious mind to reach inner calm.
The next exercise helps with self-introspection. Again, sit comfortably with a straight back, feet on the floor and open
hands resting on your lap. You’re going to inhale and exhale through the nose. Inhale to the count of 7. Hold it to the
count of 7. Exhale stress to the count of 7. Hold it to the count of 7. Do this round of breathing 7 times, sending vital
energy to the cells. This process helps you to find inner calmness and reduce stress by releasing the chatter of the
Stay positive and repeat your affirmations in front of a mirror. Visualize yourself being calm and peaceful until it
becomes integrated into the subconscious as part of your belief system. The more you release judgments of yourself
and others, by deleting negative thoughts that serve you no purpose, the sooner your subconscious will learn to react
with calmness in place of irritation. This transmutation takes time, so don’t give up---It will happen. During your mirror
talk, speak as though you’re giving a pep talk to a friend. Be a friend to yourself. Encourage yourself. Believe in yourself.
I can’t stress enough that the subconscious mind only knows what information is received and the strength of the
emotion attached to it, so whatever you truly aspire becomes imbedded into the subconscious mind and then manifests
into reality, often referred to as the Law of Attraction.
Consistently practicing patience early in your marriage transforms fairy tale notions into years of forever after love.
Retraining the subconscious mind is like planting seeds. With fertile soil, clean water and plenty of sunshine, it’s
possible to see growth in as little as a couple of weeks. Above all else, be patient with yourself. The duckling doesn’t
turn into a swan over night.
Julie says, “Derek and I’ve been married 31 years. We started dating when we were teenagers. For us, making our
marriage work is a combination of things. Patience is most important. And being considerate of each other is huge! It
really is the little things that matter… No matter what happens, we remember to be patient with each other.” She adds,
“He’s my best friend, so it’s easy.”
The Temperature of Jealousy
Keep your jealousy meter in check.
Healthy jealousy reignites a spark for a cozy campfire,
adding romantic zest and zing.
Irrational jealousy is a destructive raging bonfire fueled with
accusations and mistrust, leading to disaster.
Being jealous is the same as Goldilocks putting sugar in her coffee: Too little leaves a bitter taste and too much
makes it undrinkable. When it comes to jealousy, you need to find the amount that’s just right. If you aren’t the jealous
type, your partner may feel you don’t care. If you’re too jealous, your partner could feel suffocated and be driven away.
The just right of amount of jealousy is a tightrope walk. What is the precise amount of accepted jealousy? Imagine
that you and your partner are in a crowded room at a well attended party. You happen to glance over and notice a
particularly attractive person is getting a little too chummy with your significant other. The hair on the back of your neck
stands at attention with jealousy. As you watch the interaction, look at your innocent partner from a new angle---you can
certainly understand why someone would want to get to know him, or her, better. A realization washes over you. He’s
kind of cute and definitely witty! No wonder he’s desirable! But, you’re the one with the ring on your finger. You’re the
one going home to make love. To let your spouse know that you know how hot you think he is, casually walk over, lock
your arm through his, and look the flirt-ee in the eye, smile, offer an extra squeeze to his arm and say, “This one belongs
to me.” Or, “I see you’ve met my other half.” This kind of jealousy can stimulate your passion for each other that could
last for weeks. Your partner feels desired and you’re reminded what a great catch you have! Mild jealousy may even add
a little zest and zing to your marriage and intimacy.
On the other hand, given the same party, this time imagine that your jealousy gets the best of you. You do nothing at
the gathering but your ears puff steam like a whistling tea kettle. On the way home, you make a number of irrational
accusations. In bed, you turn your back to him, blaming him for the attention. With this level of jealousy, at the next
party, your partner’s afraid to talk to anyone for fear of facing your wrath. He’s now uncomfortable in social situations
and eventually prefers to stay home where he can’t be accused of doing anything wrong. An overly jealous mate kills
the flame and needs to examine his or her own thoughts, beliefs, and perceptions. Was Clark Kent jealous when Lois
Lane loved Superman?
Imagine a one-eyed Cyclops or a flying Pegasus. Just because you can picture them in your mind’s eye, doesn’t
make them real! The same goes with jealousy. Frequent or irrational jealousy can be a sign of insecurity and can do
long term damage to any relationship. To check your jealousy meter, ask, “Do I want to spark a cozy campfire of a
memorable sing-along? Or, “Do I have an unconscious need to toss away all I hold dear into a raging bonfire?” Mild and
occasional jealousy is common in any healthy relationship. Leave the overactive imagination to the movie makers!
What about being jealous of your spouse’s career? This is harder to deal with simply because being jealous of your
husband’s or wife’s success kind of makes you look like a jerk. Technically, by criticizing or making innuendo comments
about your partner’s success, you’re shooting yourself in the foot. One’s success benefits you both! So if you feel the
pangs of insecurity or envy at your partner’s achievements, open your heart to admiration and support, knowing that
couple’s who complement each other are forever.
Aline recalls that for her and David, “It really was love at first sight. I just knew that David was the one for me. It was
his eyes! We married within the year.”
Her eyes glistened as she reminisced about the complete trust they shared in their marriage. While David traveled
extensively with his job, Aline pursued her passion for art by studying with well known artist, Henry Koerner. Wherever
David and Aline went, whoever they saw, or whatever the circumstance, there was never any room for jealousy.
“David was very good looking and women would flirt with him, but I wasn’t concerned. I always knew he was mine. I
would think, ‘Wow! They like him, too. Go ahead and flirt with him!’ I knew that was as far as it would go. He trusted me,
too, like when I was teaching or studying art with Henry, I would be out late at night, and David never once questioned
me. We made a commitment and were very much in love.
David had incredible integrity in every aspect of his life. That was why everyone, including me, trusted him so
completely and why he had the reputation of being ‘solid.’ We shared the same family values, too…We were made for
each other…I was very lucky.”
Aline and David shared 45 years with faith and trust in their love. “When David became ill, it brought us closer than
ever. We knew that we would always be there for better or worse, no matter what happened, to the very end of our lives
here on earth.”
It’s Not Personal
Be mindful of the perceptions you make about the people around you.
Adopt the ‘It’s not personal’ belief for inner peace and contentment.
Whatever is said or done, whether by your partner, a parent, boss, or a stranger in passing, know that it’s not
personal! I know the internal struggle it takes not to personally accept insults when directly aimed at your heart. But
know that when you do take another person’s words or actions personally, you’re giving him or her power over you while
he merrily rows his boat, whistling a happy tune, and your feelings are the piece of lint flicked off a sleeve.
However, by changing your perception of any person, event or circumstance, an entire new scene opens up to you.
For example, if I’m cut off in traffic, I replace being ticked off by changing my perception. I put myself in the offender’s
place and think, maybe there’s a baby crying, perhaps he’s late for a job interview, or, she just wasn’t paying attention
and didn’t mean to.
Changing your perception is like looking through the windshield of your car, what you see is what you get--- it isn’t
personal that there’s construction, detours and potholes. Even if a person’s dog craps in your yard, is it personal?
Maybe she forget to bring a cleanup bag, or, could it be, that he’s just plain rude? Accepting that there will always be
rough roads, changing scenery, and people who let their dog crap in your yard, it’s all part of the human experience.
Accept that there are rude and ignorant people regardless of where you live. And know that there are more kind and
thoughtful people if you permit yourself to see them through a compassionate lens.
Once upon a time, I was promised a supervisor position if I returned to grad school for certification, which I did.
Thousands of dollars in debt later, when the position became available, it was given to someone else. Was I upset? Hell,
yeah. Did I take it personally? Oh, yeah.
I don’t know why things happen the way that they do, but I do know that when you don’t take things personally, it may
be Universe giving you the nudge needed to find the opening to your true path. Once you refuse to have your emotions
dictated by other people, you’re able to surrender and open yourself to notice when new opportunities are being offered.
Look at the people in your life. There are kind people, selfish people and judgmental people in your everyday circle of
living. It’s your choice to be with people that offer kindness and respect. Walk away from the ones with toxic energy.
Once you stop taking the negative actions of others personally, you’ll find your relationship at home becomes less
stressful and more satisfying. It’s impossible to please everyone, so you must have the courage to be true to the one
person who matters most---yourself. For myself, by not getting the position I was promised, I was open to follow an
incredible spiritual journey.
Know that there will be people in your circle of friends or immediate family who won’t understand when you no longer
give permission to have your buttons pushed. After all, you’ve stopped playing the game. When you hear, “My how
you’ve changed!” and you’re able to respond, “Thank you for noticing,” feel the pride of taking control of your life.
Trust your inner voice. By integrating ‘It’s not personal’ as your guided truth, you gain inner peace and happiness,
regardless of the bumps in the road. You’ll be able to accept them for what they are---just bumps.
It’s taken me years to integrate the It’s not personal philosophy, but once I did, it was liberating! Every once in a while, I
catch myself sliding and have to be mindful that the behavior of the other person has nothing to do with me. Whatever
happened, whatever was said, it isn’t personal.
Chapter 3 The Blame Game
STOP playing the Blame Game.
Take responsibility for your own actions. Recognize when blame is unfairly placed.
Accept the situation with grace.
Release anger by seeking a solution.
Move on with resolution.
“Who knocked the plant over?”Mom asks. The kids all chime in at once, pointing at each other, “It’s his fault! …
It’s her fault!” Like a cartoon, finger pointing blame is usually assigned to the young.
Some people grow out of the blame game and some don’t. If you find yourself being unfairly blamed for things like,
“It’s your fault I missed my meeting!” “Your talking made me miss the exit!” “It’s your fault there’s no milk!” With people
who are in the habit of placing blame, the list is endless. If you recognize yourself as a person who places blame, the
time to take responsibility for your actions and words is NOW.
To be fair, abuse of the blame game is gender equal, with both sexes causing havoc on the spirit. By the time you’re
an adult, it’s time to act like one by taking ownership of your decisions, behaviors and anger. Placing blame is childish
and does nothing to serve anyone’s best interest.
Growing up, my family’s running joke was to blame the dog anytime anyone had flatulence. Boot’s would hear her
name, lift up her head and look at us fools laughing, as though saying, ‘Whatever.’ While your dog doesn’t care, I
guarantee that if you’re constantly blaming your spouse, he or she, does care. Before long, a once confident mate
becomes filled with embarrassment, fear or anger and defensive mechanisms are set into action.
However, there is a loophole, sort of speak, that suggests, under particular circumstances, calling someone out on
unhealthy habits and irritable behaviors can help to prevent resentment. For example, two of the more frequent
complaints I heard during my research, was the blame of forgetfulness and tardiness. While excuses varied, so-
called solutions often came in the form of nagging, usually ending in an argument, subconsciously encouraging the
cycle of blame to continue.
If willingness to release the pattern is sincere, as with forgetfulness or tardiness, one preventative solution would be to
set a bunch of alarms on a cell phone to serve as reminders to stay on track. Another technique is the use of post it
notes left on the computer screen, the bathroom mirror and bedroom dresser. Post it notes also serve as silent
reminders on the car steering wheel when you need to pick up milk or a kid from soccer practice.
Once ownership of any chronic problem is accepted with a willingness to correct it, relationships can have space to
improve by replacing nagging with gratitude. Then, if you’re late to a major event, it’s because you really did get delayed
While not everyone is compliant, at first mention of a habitual problem, your partner may feel insulted or angry. But,
once the problem is out in the open, your relationship may actually be strengthened because no one is seething in
resentment or harboring the feeling of being taken for granted.
Be honest with yourself. Rather than seeking fault or placing blame, search for ways to resolve the issue. Professional
help may be able to uncover the root of the problem and offer a simple solution, leaving you saying, “Why didn’t we think
Accept with grace that there is a problem,
Release your anger by seeking a solution and
Move on with resolution.
ARM yourself---Accept, Release, and Move on!
Every Accomplishment Counts
Offer sincere praise for your partner’s accomplishments.
Big or small, celebrate and be proud of your partner!
As a new bride, I wasn’t much of a cook. Oh, I conquered the scrambled egg well enough, but the challenge of making
lump-free mashed potatoes and gravy escaped my kitchen prowess. They were too thick, too thin, or too lumpy. I used
too much flour, too little broth, too much salt, not enough butter. Until, a few years later… one fantastic Thanksgiving, I
made the absolute best mashed potatoes and gravy ever made on that thankful day! It was like the fairy godmother of
lump-free food waved her magic wand and I could do no wrong.
When my husband told me how delicious everything was and how proud he was of me for never giving up, I was like
a little kid! “Watch me swim!” “Watch me swing!” “Watch me make gravy!” It’s embarrassing to admit, but I remember
telling him every single step of the mashed potato and gravy process and how I did it!
Human nature’s a funny thing when egos come into play. Of course, egos are necessary, but, when it comes to
accomplishments, it’s time to set your own ego aside and let your partner shine. Love is about having the genuine
satisfaction that you offered unwavering support and had faith in her every step of the way.
Be careful though, an accomplishment by one partner can quickly become a two edged sword if you let your ego get
the best of you. In other words, don’t let your 15 minutes of fame go to your head, or, as my mom would say, “Don’t get
too big for your britches, Missy!” or “Don’t get too big for your britches, Mister” if she was talking to my brothers. Clearly,
anyone approaching the big britches status wasn’t worthy to be called by name. When she felt that enough praise had
been given, another favorite saying was, “It’s time to come off that high horse of yours.” Which was especially
interesting, as none of us, or her, had ever ridden a horse. I thought, “Huh? What horse? What is she even
talking about?” While you have every right to be proud of your accomplishments, remember the little people who helped
along the way.
Be proud of each other’s accomplishments, whether it’s a promotion at work, earning an advanced degree, or hanging
a picture, recognize the dedication of all the hard work and sacrifice he or she has made.
Meanwhile, if you’re the one receiving recognition, don’t let your ego get the best of you. Arrogance and bragging do
not paint a pretty picture. Acknowledge the support your husband or wife gave along the way to make your
accomplishment possible. In the long run, every accomplishment benefits the home team.
Acceptance is Key
Accept your partner with all his or her quirks,
habits and little annoyances.
Humans adopt little quirks at an early age, some more annoying than others, like kids using a clean shirt when a napkin’s right
next to him! Sharing your life with a partner who accepts all quirks gained along the way paves a natural path to a harmonious
Once chemistry clicks on the first date, everything is rosy! All of your attention is focused on getting to know each other, like
does he collect stamps or prefer to travel? At this level, she doesn’t know that he leaves sweaty socks on the living room floor,
hoards newspapers, or drinks milk from the carton. He doesn’t know that she farts in bed or dulls his razor by shaving her legs.
These are things learned after a commitment’s been made.
Months or years later, the habits that didn’t bother you at the early stages of romance may become maddening! Some habits are
easy fixes, like placing gentle post-a-note reminders on the bathroom mirror, ‘Clean out the sink, damn it!’
After 41 years, Walter said, “You must be respectful friends. Love each other, accept the differences and don’t get stuck on issues.
Things are just what they are, not always to be changed to suit someone else. The time that you spend convincing someone to think
as you do can be futile and frustrating. Life goes on anyway, and every small issue usually wanes in importance the next day…..I
guess what I’m saying is to just accept each other, the good along with the not so good. It all levels out in the end.”
Having trouble changing your annoyance level? Instead of honing in on what drives you crazy, switch to the energy channel
RHPT or Remember His (or Her) Positive Traits.
Jamie said, “Adam and I respect each other and can talk openly about anything…. Even more than that, we totally accept each
other. For example, when Adam’s working on a project, he’s so laser focused that he doesn’t hear a word I say. I’ve learned to
accept that’s who he is and wait to talk to him after he’s done, and, when I’m moody or not feeling up to par, Adam accepts me. I
don’t’ try to change him and he doesn’t try to change me.”
Granted, there are definite behaviors that go beyond being annoying.* These habits often have to do with smelly bodily functions
or personal cleanliness, like crawling into bed with dirty feet or neglecting oral hygiene. How about morning breath kissing? Really?
Get a breath mint!
Be aware of the fairy tale perception's of marriage! Honeymoons really do come to an end, couples really are two individuals
with separate thoughts, and getting married really isn’t the end all answer to solving your problems. Marriage is about accepting the
warts along with the halos.
By accepting each other’s minor quirks and habits, you remain one solid unit. Change what’s necessary, accept the little
annoyances, and, Please God, grant the wisdom and ability to know the difference.
*Quirks and habits do not refer to lewd behaviors, porn, physical/emotional abuse, deceit, or abuse of alcohol / drugs, which is never acceptable.