(Excerpt from the Vissell’s not-yet published book, To Really Love a Woman)

To really love a woman is to give her your complete trust. I love the line in Bryan Adams’ song, “… and when you find yourself lying helpless in her arms, you know you really love a woman.” To lay helpless in her arms, you need to give up control and be vulnerable. You need to trust that she will not intentionally hurt you, that she is looking out for your well-being, fully on your side, and watching your back. Even more importantly, you can trust in a higher power expressing through your beloved, an abundance of love and caring that can come through her.

Becoming vulnerable with a woman teaches you all about trust. I often hear, “I’ll be more vulnerable with her when I trust her more.” This attitude doesn’t work. Your vulnerability opens the door to trust, and trust opens the door to love. “Lying helpless in her arms” proves that you can trust her.

If you don’t ask her for help, how can you learn to really trust her? Let me share an important lesson from my own life, a time when I really needed Joyce’s help, and needed to fully trust her wisdom. My father, although often a loving man, was prone to noisy outbursts of anger. As a child, these “temper tantrums” affected me deeply. To cope, I learned to tune out the abrasive yelling, to not even hear it on a conscious level. It was my way of protecting my sensitive feelings. This coping skill got me through my childhood, but no longer served me as an adult. In my relationship with Joyce, if something I did upset her and she expressed her feelings to me, my lifelong skill of tuning out and thus not hearing her was anything but skillful. So, trusting Joyce as my teacher, I asked her to help me stay present with her in all my feelings. I have been learning to overcome my fear of strong emotions, and to healthily express my own emotions, thanks to my wife.

I didn’t always have this complete trust of Joyce. When we used to have heated arguments in our early years together, it sometimes felt like she was out to get me, that we were on different sides, even that our very relationship was threatened. We still get angry, even heatedly so, but now I trust Joyce. I trust that no matter how angry she is at me, she is still committed to getting back to love. This is no little thing. I trust that she will do whatever it takes to open her heart to me, and this helps me to be more accountable for my own anger. It gives me permission to find ways to open my heart to her as well.

I used to have difficulty trusting Joyce with co-leading groups. When we were both twenty-seven, she joined me in doing group process work. I had more training and experience. I knew more than she did, and she agreed. She often meekly sat beside me, while I did most of the leading. Then she realized it didn’t matter that I knew more. She started listening to her intuition, and loving each person completely. I may have been the therapist, but she was the lover. It didn’t take me long to see the light. When group participants felt loved by Joyce, they felt safer and opened up more. I started to see the wisdom of the goddess coming through her. I learned to trust that wisdom, to depend on it.

However, old habits die slowly. Perhaps our greatest challenge in working together has been my old habit of being the therapist, of interrupting Joyce to make a point. Coming more from the heart, Joyce is quieter and slower to speak, with sometimes long pauses between her words. Additionally, she grew up in a family where people actually listened to one another, where one person stopped talking and then another began. I, on the other hand, grew up in a family where everyone talked at the same time, and whoever talked louder might be the one heard. There was no such thing as a pause between words, let alone sentences. Even the slightest pause was simply an invitation for someone to butt in.

So Joyce would be speaking to the group, and there would be a pause while she felt deeply for the right words. I would feel uncomfortable with this thing called silence between words, a gap that must be filled with sound, and would jump in to save the day. This would, of course, hurt Joyce. To her it was an act of disrespect. She felt not trusted, not needed, even not wanted. At times she has even wanted to give up working together with me doing groups.

I love Joyce by trusting her completely in front of a group. I love her by creating room for her to share her wisdom, by making space for the goddess, by sitting back and drinking in her love-infused words. I love her by trusting that she can say things I can’t, that her perspective balances mine, that the two of us united are much more effective than either one of us as individuals.

Sometimes Joyce perceives things that I don’t. In one of our early groups, there was a single woman who needed my love in a way that crossed over a very subtle line, but a line that Joyce saw and felt. In just one moment, while saying goodbye to her, with just a few words, I allowed myself to be the one to fill her need. Energetically, I crossed that same subtle line from professional to personal. Joyce whispered, “Now you’re in trouble, Barry. Just wait and see.”

I looked at her incredulous. “What are you talking about?”

“You gave something to her that wasn’t yours to give. Just watch. Now she’ll want a whole lot more.”

Joyce was right. This woman started stalking me, and it required much time and energy to stop her.

I trust Joyce has much to teach me in so many areas. I trust her instincts. I listen when she gets an inner yes or no. I trust her sensitivity. I trust she feels things that I haven’t learned to feel yet. I trust her wisdom. She has a way of seeing things in a way I don’t. She has a perspective I don’t have.

Most of all, I trust her love for me. It’s unfailing. Even when she’s mad at me, she still loves me.

And she often tells me how good it feels that I trust her so deeply.

Trust Practice

Write down all the ways you trust your woman. It may surprise you how many ways you do trust her.

Show her the list but, even better, tell her in your own words.
For more information, you can contact Barry & Joyce Vissell at www.sharedheart.org

Copyright (c) 2011 The Shared Heart Foundation
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Author's Bio: 

Barry & Joyce Vissell are founders of The Shared Heart Foundation, and are the leaders of workshops and retreats for singles, couples and families. They are also the authors of the books, "The Shared Heart", "Models of Love", "Risk to Be Healed", "Meant to Be", and "A Mother's Final Gift."
You can learn more about them and this year's workshops at