One of my colleagues died during my last year at Children's Hospital, having served on our university medical faculty for more than twenty-five years. During his tenure as a professor, he had earned
We all have our best side. And when that best version of who we are steps out first, we are seen as great people. Yet when our weaknesses or flaws show up, our spouse is often the first one to notice them and we are the last ones to admit to them. Why? Because the fear of being seen in a bad light—and perhaps rejected—keeps us from being vulnerable about our flaws.
You and your spouse have different personalities, each with unique strengths that add so much to your marriage. As well as weaknesses that have the potential to hurt one another. So the question is, how comfortable are you with recognizing your weaknesses?
If you are a 'green' personality type, you are a leader who can see what needs to be done, and then are able to recruit others to help actually make things happen. If you are a 'red' personality type you are a fun seeker; you make any situation better with your laughter and even tedious chores become more enjoyable. If you are a 'blue' you are a thinker; you process what is going on, see the details involved, and can "administrate" a project to completion. A 'yellow' personality type overlooks others' faults to help keep the peace and encourages everyone to get along.
I have used these color-coded personality descriptions to help you gain a broad understanding of yourself and your spouse's strengths, but taking an in-depth personality test is a better way to gauge the dynamics you bring to different situations. It is important to know that strengths always come with weaknesses. And your weaknesses impact how you relate to your spouse.
Strong leadership can make your green personality type seem "bossy," and because you can naturally see the best solutions you may come across as overly opinionated, appearing to steamroll over others' feelings. And in the process of making things fun, as a red you are excited to start but often fail to finish projects, easily forgetting details and sometimes talking over others during conversations. As a blue, because you can see the negatives, this can often thwart enthusiasm in others and you may come to doubt yourself. And as a yellow, although well meaning, you tend to avoid stepping out of the familiar, don't easily support change and try to shy away from conflict.
The difficulty isn't that the flipside of your strengths become your weaknesses, but rather that you don't see or want to admit to flaws.
Why is it so painful for us to look at who we really are—strengths, quirks as well as flaws? It is often difficult to name our weaknesses and then admit them out loud to our spouse. This is a big risk and requires us to be vulnerable. To be vulnerable means we will be transparent to our spouse and our flaws will be known. And this triggers our shame.
What if I really am bossy? Critical? Negative? Procrastinating? Maybe I actually do roll my eyes! Maybe I can be sarcastic! Maybe I do disconnect when conflict arises! Maybe I…
Oh no! The shock of admitting to our flaws. The shame. What does this mean about who we are? Brené Brown, a renowned researcher on the topic defines shame as "an intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging."
When faced with our flaws do we quietly ask ourselves: Will my spouse still value me, love me and stay in relationship with me if I am seen in this way?
Curt Thompson says that vulnerability is one of the antidotes to shame. When we are able to turn toward our spouse and be honest about our flaws it is a powerful and connecting experience. Plus, being honest about your flaws enables you to have the courage to actually change.
To make it safe for you and your spouse to be honest about flaws will require each of you to treat the other with kindness and respect. Instead of growing a crusty defensive shell, try to be honest. And in return, when your spouse risks to be honest with you about his or her faults, be sure to also be kind and compassionate.
Of course you can't use your spouse's confession of a flaw as a weapon later on. You know what I am talking about. Saying things such as, "You even said yourself that you procrastinate; and if you know that it impacts the family, why do you do it?" That will definitely bruise your spouse's heart, confirm how emotionally untrustworthy you are, and close his or her spirit toward you.
Understand how difficult it is to admit to one's flaws. It might require you to stop mid-sentence (even when you have a really good comeback!) and instead say to your spouse, "Thank you for seeing that in yourself. I appreciate you having the courage to admit it." You then become each other's heart keepers. Choose to care for each other's hearts.
When you can both admit to your flaws and weaknesses, you'll be better able to grow and mature. Becoming "real" enables you to grow as a couple, to tame your flaws, and strive to become the best version of yourselves you can be. You are each other's growth partners, so try to encourage each other every day—and in this way, we will become more Christ-like.
"Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It's about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen." – Brené Brown