The Miracle of Men, Women, and Couples: Allowing Our Vulnerabilities to Bring Us Together

[ad_1]

It isn’t easy being a man in today’s world. The same is true for being a woman. Finding the right partner and creating a joyful, long-lasting, marriage is truly a miracle. In their book. In their book, A Couple of Miracles: One Couple, More Than a Few Miracles, Joyce and Barry Vissell share their life journey. Joyce, a nurse/psychotherapist and Barry doctor/psychiatrist, offer wisdom for men, women, and couples who are wanting to find the secrets for a long and successful life, career, and marriage.

            I have known Joyce and Barry for many years. My wife, Carlin, and I attended a couple’s retreat with them to celebrate our tenth anniversary. Our forty-four-year marriage has been enriched by our time with Joyce and Barry.

            Joyce and Barry have been a couple since 1964, have raised three children, written ten books, and helped countless people in their workshops and counseling practice. They can be reached at SharedHeart.org. I recently did a podcast interview with Barry and we explored their work, the new book, Barry’s work with men, Joyce’s work with women, and their joint work with couples.

I recently attended a men’s retreat with Barry and seventeen other men from around the country. It was a unique and wonderful experience that I recommend to all men. From the very beginning Barry invited us all to be vulnerable and share the real challenges we were facing in our lives. He started by sharing his own, things that most of us hide, even from ourselves.

“We need to let our partners see us more deeply,”

said Barry.

“We need to feel and express our feelings. Men sometimes feel hurt or afraid, but we’re often taught to keep it well hidden.”

Barry went on to share some of the real problems that he and Joyce have experienced in their own lives. As others shared, hearts opened, tears were shed. We talked about our hopes and dreams and our losses and betrayals.

I shared my experiences, having been married twice before, and the shame I felt being  “a twice-divorced marriage and family counselor.” I talked about my forty-four-year marriage to my wife, Carlin, and my fear and anguish at the thought of losing her.

Barry shared his own fears of what he would do if Joyce died. Other men opened up about broken promises and broken marriages. Several men had recently dealt with relationships that had recently ended and shared their pain and anger.

 “Outwardly, we often present a strong, competent image,”

said Barry.

“Showing our human frailty to our loved ones gives them a very wonderful gift of love. When we feel sad, instead of covering it up with activity, we can share it with a loved one. Instead of jumping into an angry posture every time we feel hurt, the vulnerable and courageous approach is to reveal the hurt feelings directly, without anger or resentment.”

Barry acknowledged that many of us were in relationship with strong, competent, women. He encouraged us to also recognize “the little girl” that lives inside each of the women in our lives.

When I returned home after the end of the retreat, I shared what Barry had said about “the little girl” within. Carlin wept with recognition.

“I’ve spent my whole life taking care of others,”

Carlin said.

“I haven’t done a very good job taking care of the little girl inside me.

I held her and let her little girl be vulnerable, as she has so often held me as I let the little boy in me reveal his worries, fears, and pain.  I used to think that it was manly to suffer in silence, to be forever strong for others. But I now know that our vulnerability is our real superpower.

I have been somewhat obsessed with life and death for a long time now. When I was five years old my father took an overdose of sleeping pills when he became increasingly depressed because he couldn’t support his family doing the work he loved. Though he didn’t die, our lives were never the same. I grew up wondering what happened to my father and when it would happen to me. For most of my life I blocked out the terror of my childhood.

I grew up like many males, denying my own vulnerability, and imagined that if I were smart enough and successful enough I could outrun my fears and furies. At various times I acted like I was the lone wolf, top dog, alpha male, lone ranger, superman. I didn’t trust others, particularly other guys, who I felt I needed to compete against in order to get women, money, power, and glory I craved.

That changed for me when I joined my first men’s group in 1979. Carlin has said on many occasions that the reason she believes we have had a successful forty-four-year marriage is because I’ve been in a men’s group for forty-five years. Our group continues to meet, though three of our members have died. I’m now the eldest member of the group as I recently celebrated my 80th birthday.

Carlin has also been in several women’s groups which give her the love and support that only women can give. We also have been in a mixed group, we call “The Village Circle” where men and women can learn to love and support each other.

Joyce and Barry have had a similar path and offer counseling, retreats, and much more. You can get their latest information at SharedHeart.org. The world needs more miracles. We need each other and the world needs each of us to be the best men and women we can be.

We live in challenging times. Vaclav Havel, Czech statesman, author, poet, playwright and dissident, offers an important truth about the times in which we live.

“I think there are good reasons for suggesting that the modern age has ended. Today, many things indicate that we are going through a transitional period, when it seems that something is on the way out and something else is painfully being born. It is as if something were crumbling, decaying, and exhausting itself, while something else, still indistinct, were arising from the rubble.”

In a recent article, “Men and Relationships,” Barry says,

“Over the years of working with men and their relationships, not to mention my own 59-year relationship with Joyce, I have seen some central issues emerge.”

He goes on to enumerate eight areas that are particularly important. Number eight is “Reach Out More to Other Men.”

Barry says,

“Many men tend to isolate themselves from meaningful relationships with other men. I have observed that many men are nearly starved for father/brother love. Because of our fear of this need, we have pushed away half the population of the earth. Practice vulnerability with other men, and you will find it becomes even easier to be vulnerable with your partner. Deepening your friendship with a man leads to deepening your friendship with yourself. And this allows you to become more accessible to your partner.”

Barry and Joyce practice what they recommend to others. Both Carlin and I have benefitted from their wisdom over the years. You will too. You can visit Barry and Joyce here.

If you appreciate articles like these, come visit me, Jed Diamond, here.  

The post The Miracle of Men, Women, and Couples: Allowing Our Vulnerabilities to Bring Us Together appeared first on MenAlive.

Article link