d-We all come to relationships with walls—barriers we possess, in need of being broken or taken down. Things we’ve used to protect ourselves, defend ourselves and keep us from getting hurt. Ways we keep people at a distance or even keep them out. We all have walls, we just don’t always recognize them.

You might be reading this and wondering, What are my walls? Do I even have them? The answer is yes.

Walls come in different forms and sizes, but they always impact our closest relationships and the way we interact with the world around us.

Maybe we’ve erected a wall of isolation, where we choose to keep to ourselves instead of engaging with those we love.

Maybe it’s the wall of denial, where we refuse to acknowledge our role and responsibility in a conflict.

Maybe it’s the wall of withdrawal, where we pull away and avoid rather than confront.

Maybe it’s the wall of fantasy, when we escape from reality instead of learning to deal with it in a healthy way.

Maybe it’s the wall of invalidation, when it’s easier to criticize and dismiss than it is to encourage and build up.

Maybe it’s the wall of rage, where we use our anger and negative behaviors to keep people at bay.

There are so many walls that we can build in life, in relationships and in marriage. Walls that keep our relationships stagnant and our hearts distant.

In fact, in of a recent survey I took asking married couples how much time they spend in quality communication with their spouse, I almost couldn’t believe what they said regarding communication in marriage.

The time spent in quality communication was so much lower than I expected. And probably so much lower than you expect.

But that’s the thing with the walls we build around us. There are so many walls that keep us from one another. And the only way to break down these walls is to recognize them and begin to take them down one brick at a time using the tool of vulnerability: the invitation to let people in.

There is so much power in using our words, actions and interactions as opportunities to tear down the walls we’ve erected and to begin connecting with the people around us.

But in order to start taking down our walls, we have to recognize them. And in order to recognize them, we have to be looking for them. Because with the power and strength of our loving God at work within us, we can truly scale any wall.

This article is an adapted excerpt from Debra Fileta’s newest book, Choosing Marriage: Why It Has To Start With We > Me, and is used with permission.

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