It’s one thing to share your thoughts when trying to communicate with your spouse. But how would you rate your ability to actually express feelings? You know, letting loose on all that makes you vulnerable, scared, happy, loved, desired, safe, etc.
Regardless of whether or not you gave yourself a passing score, I think we can all agree that expressing feelings is hard — even for women, who, let’s be honest, are great at it in comparison to many men. That’s because it still takes a lot of courage to share what’s going on beneath the surface.
How will my spouse respond?
Will I be validated or simply brushed off?
Is sharing my feelings even worth it?
Clearly, the mere act of “opening up” is enough to make anyone feel vulnerable. So how do we get past that? With practice and intentionality! This is Part 3 in a series of blog posts on improving communication between spouses. In the first post, we identified and worked through what elements of communication trip you up the most. In the second post, we learned that active listening helps open our hearts and minds to what the other person is trying to express. Now, we are going to dive into a few simple exercises to help you express feelings when the opportunity arises.
“Sometimes you can hurt yourself more than anyone can hurt you
just by keeping all your feelings hidden.” — Unknown Author
Ask yourself what “feeling” words are comfortable for you to use with your spouse? Also, which “feeling” words are more difficult? When you have that in your head or written down, try putting it into the following format:
When you ______________ it makes me feel _____________.
Here are a few examples to get you started. Please add more that make the most sense for you.
- Compliment me
- Show appreciation for something I did
- Smile at me for me
- Touch me
- Tell me that you love me
- Tell me you are proud of me
Or, you can try these … I feel..
secure when you __________.
loved when you ___________.
valued or important when you ___________.
Sharing Relationship Vision
Write a series of short sentences that relate your personal vision of what a fulfilling, satisfying marriage looks like:
For example … WE…
Make time weekly to talk about issues.
*Make the statements positive. Don’t focus on negativity. Once you have done that, take the following steps:
- Write your individual statements.
- Share your list and checkmark any similarities.
- Individually, mark each statement as to its importance to you (1=Very, 5=Not Very)
- Mark which statements may be difficult for the two of you to achieve.
|Similarities||In my ideal love relationship:||Importance 1-5||Difficulty|
Areas that may help to make your list: What you feel about the other. What you do together. How you relate to each other. Where you live. Sex and affection. Leisure time. Spending free time. Relating to each other’s work. How you both relate to your children and as parents. Decision-making process. Do you resolve conflict? Spiritual issues. Physical health. Friendships and social. Financial issues. Household roles. Family and in-laws.
All we’re trying to say is that couples who can see, express, and feel that they are communicating well will have the marriage they’ve always dreamed of. If you find yourself struggling to share your feelings, turn to the exercises above to get you going in a better direction. If you do, you’ll find it easier to get back to communicating better.
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Did we leave anything out? What are a few ways you are sharing feelings with your spouse? Did you enjoy the exercises above? Please send us a quick email and help us keep this conversation going at Mike@MikeandSusanDawson.com.