This post by my colleague Troy Spry caused quite a stir here on BMWK last week! He presented several scenario based insights into how we wives can inadvertently hurt our husband’s feelings. He shared some hard truths in his post and I was positively challenged to make some improvements in my behaviors as a wife!
A common theme I noticed throughout the article, however, was that whenever the man’s feelings were hurt, he didn’t say anything to his wife about it. This is something both husbands and wives tend to do. We hold onto things and let the offenses build up over time. This causes resentment, creates distance and reduces intimacy between partners. Research has also found that the suppression of emotions can even impact your health.
In marriage, it is inevitable that somebody’s feelings are going to get hurt eventually. We all know that communication is one of the keys to a successful marriage, but we must also remember that learning how to express our emotions is a necessary skill every spouse should master.
Below are three ways to help you learn how to express your emotions to your husband or wife:
Identify Your Feelings
It is difficult to communicate your feelings to your spouse if you are not sure on what they are. Expecting your mate to guess how you feel is frustrating (for both of you) and unfair. It is important to understand that your feelings go beyond good or bad, happy and sad. Expand your emotional vocabulary to include words that are clear and descriptive, such as delighted, furious, elated, irritable, and uneasy. Take a moment to ask yourself, “How do I truly feel about this?” and be able to describe that feeling. This will reduce confusion when the time comes to talk to about it.
Own Your Feelings
No matter how you think your partner may perceive them, once you have named your feelings, you must own them. For example, instead of saying, “You hurt my feelings;” say “I feel hurt when you do that.” The use of “I” language shows that you are taking responsibility for your feelings, and it gives your mate a chance to understand how they made you feel (not just what they did wrong). This opens the door for a proper response from them without judgment or defensiveness from either party.
Express Your Feelings
Make an effort to choose the right time and place to talk to your spouse about how you feel. During the game or right after you come home from work may not be the best time. Speak to each other when you both are fully present and can give your undivided attention. Now that you’ve named and owned your feelings, you are in a position to have a productive conversation that can improve things and resolve issues quickly — not make them worse.
BMWK Family: Are you good with expressing your emotions? What tips can you share with others who may find it to be a challenge?
 & 2 Adapted from Adler, R., and Proctor, R. Looking Out, Looking In. Boston: Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2011.