Approachability: The Key to Emotional Safety in Marriage

One of the most loving things you can do in your marriage is to make yourself radically approachable to your spouse. When you’re approachable, you’re open, welcoming, and receptive–and most importantly, your spouse feels safe with you.

Your approachability makes others feel like they belong when they’re near you. It makes them feel wanted and included. Making your spouse feel as though he or she belongs with you is one of the most selfless things you can do for them.

A behavior modeled by Jesus

Approachability was both a behavior and a persona that was modeled by Jesus in Biblical accounts. Jesus was profoundly, shockingly approachable. And, he was this way by intention and design.

Jesus wanted people to know that it was safe to come to Him, talk to Him, and ask Him for help. He didn’t operate on principles of isolation or exclusion. He also didn’t make His followers or friends feel unwelcome–as though they should never have spoken to him.

Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to make ourselves less approachable than we should be, to the people who should feel the safest in our presence.

Approachability in marriage

In marriage, it’s easy to become so comfortable with one another that we can actually come off as unwelcoming to our spouse. This is the last place on earth where we should feel unwelcome.

When we’re dating and newlyweds, we’re on our best behavior–and we crave spending every spare moment together. But as time goes on, it becomes easier to be selfish and to shut our spouses out when they need or want us.

Overwhelm kills approachability

Life takes over–maybe we have children, demanding careers, or run a business. Perhaps there are financial or health struggles. Maybe we’re exhausted when the day is done, and we just want a little time alone.

Being overwhelmed can make us put up walls between ourselves and our families, and our spouses may find us to be less approachable. Soon, we’re no longer on our best behavior for our spouse.

At home, we often see each other at our worst–and we end up reaping the consequences. By stunting our spouse’s communication with us, we make them feel emotionally unsafe. When we feel unsafe, we end up holding one another at arm’s length.

It’s a vicious cycle. And once the cycle begins, expectations are shattered and relationships can devolve very quickly.

Love opens our hearts again

Whatever your challenges in your marriage, it’s imperative to love one another through the hardest days. Love opens our hearts again, even when we’ve been through difficult times with our spouse.

Love also cultivates approachability. And that fact is most apparent in the life of Jesus, who loved people freely and openly, just as they were.

Jesus was able to love past his followers’ and friends’ imperfections. He forgave freely. He was incredibly, radically accessible.

No matter a person’s background, Jesus loved them and didn’t hinder them from coming to Him. If Christ can do this for others, surely we can do it for our spouses, too.

Rules for approachability in marriage

If you’re ready to become more approachable in your marriage, here are a few ground rules:

  • Remind yourself that you and your spouse are on the same team. You share many goals, dreams, and visions for the future.
  • Pray together and individually. Bless your spouse and pray for them.
  • Do good to your spouse.
  • Tell your spouse they can come to you. Help them feel safe when they do.
  • Be a good listener. Don’t listen to respond, and don’t use their concerns against them.
  • Give to your spouse without expecting anything in return.
  • Take a walk in your spouse’s shoes. Leverage empathy to better understand where your spouse is coming from.

Being approachable to your spouse is the secret to open, thriving communication. Approachability cultivates trust between the two of you and helps you both feel emotionally safe. And, it’s an incredibly important attribute of your marriage that will open the door to healthier, more effective communication, problem-solving, and conflict resolution.

If you’d like to know more about Jesus’ example of unconditional love, there’s more in my (Les) book, Love Like That.

How’s the approachability factor in your marriage? Can you and your spouse approach each other freely? Let us know in the comments section!


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