Step One—take off all of your clothes
Step Two—uh, I guess you’re done. WRONG!
In marriage, physical nakedness is easy to accomplish (see Step One), but for a deeply satisfying marriage you need to move toward emotional, intellectual, spiritual, as well as physical nakedness.
In marriage, nakedness isn’t about being seen, it’s about being known.
Being known by your spouse requires that you address two areas of relating: the hidden area (things that you know about yourself that others don’t know) and the blind area (things that others know about you that you don’t know about yourself).
Shrinking the hidden area requires courage. The hidden area is where you store things you know about yourself that your spouse doesn’t know. Some of these are painful, traumatic experiences that you’ve endured; others are shameful things that you have said and done; still others are hopes and dreams that you embrace but are embarrassed to share. When a hidden area is threatened to be exposed, you can feel anything from low-level anxiety to full-blown panic. It’s tempting to pick up a mask to hide behind, especially if you’ve used anger, humor, or withdrawal to hide. But these responses bring very little hope for connection, love, and intimacy. Somewhere deep within, you really long to be known, but it can be scary. Take a risk, share something hidden with your spouse.
Shrinking the blind area requires feedback. Your spouse knows things about you that you yourself don’t even know! Think about it, hundreds of people know what the back of your head looks like, but you’ve never directly seen it! Your spouse has important information about you that can help you to grow, but it’s not always pleasant to hear. Be approachable and request your spouse’s input. Maybe you should start with the tough questions that you typically avoid. “What have I done this week that has been irritating?” “When do you feel safe with me?” “When do you feel unsafe?” “If you could magically change one thing about me, what would it be?”
When you’re ready to tackle one of these, be wise. If you’re an early bird, don’t start this conversation at midnight. If your spouse has a stressful meeting Wednesday morning, don’t have this conversation Tuesday night. Give yourself a real opportunity for success in being known, and then have fun getting naked!
You can do this!