Are you willing to take the risk?
Often when I’m working with a client, issues are brought up about the marriage. We begin to explore a recent argument or a conversation they seem to have over and over again. As we do this, we uncover emotions other than anger and frustration.
The person sitting across from me begins to realize that he or she is feeling hurt or scared or really sad. A lot of times in arguments with a spouse, both are feeling anger and acting in anger. This emotion is felt strongly, it is familiar and feels kind of safe. This emotion of anger also makes it hard to connect. It can interfere with getting in touch with other feelings. Feeling anger can effect sharing those feelings. Being in a space where you can really hear and understand your partner is difficult if you are overwhelmed with anger.
When we discover there is hurt or sadness or fear. I will often ask what it would be like to share those feelings with their spouse. Often what I hear is, “I can’t do that.”
It takes courage to share your vulnerable feelings.
These deeper, more vulnerable emotions are difficult to share. There can be many reasons for this. Some feel weak. Some are worried about their partner’s response. Maybe they won’t believe me. Maybe they won’t care. Maybe they will get mad.
Making your marriage better is hard work. It’s risky!
I can’t promise that if you share your deeper feelings that you will get a response that you are hoping for. I can’t promise that your marriage will get better. I can say that sharing your deep feelings is a part of having a close, secure relationship.
Individuals must be able to understand themselves to be in a place to share it with others. Once you come to an understanding that there is more than anger, try sharing it with your partner. If what you are currently doing is not working…is it worth the risk to be vulnerable?
If you are willing to be courageous and give it a try, here is an example to get you thinking and hopefully sharing!
Think about a frequent disagreement. For example, you often get in a fight when your husband wants to go out with his friends. The wife argues, that he goes out with his friends all the time and she is always left caring for the kids. She’s worried about the women who might hit on him when he’s out with the guys. What if he gets in an accident late at night on his way home? The list could go on about the issues and concerns she brings up. (By the way, this conversation could easily be about a husband not wanting his wife to go out.)
What is the wife really feeling? Needing? Is she sad that she feels his friends are more important than her? Is she scared because she already lost someone close to her in a car accident? Is she lonely because they both have been busy at work and really needs time to connect with him? If something like this is at the heart of it, she’s protesting in a way that is likely to no be heard.
What if she says these things instead?
What if she said something like, “I want you to be able to go out with your friends, but I feel so lonely and sad when you are gone. I miss you.” Or “I feel really scared that a drunk driver will hit you. I would be devastated if I lost you.” These statements are not the magic words to get what you want. If you are going to say something like this, it needs to be true. If you can share statements about deeper feelings and needs, they will begin to build more intimacy between you and your spouse.
He may still decide to go out with the guys, but maybe he will be able the give her a longer hug or some words of understanding, instead of leaving with both of them angry. He may realize that they really haven’t spent much time together and choose to stay home with her this time.
The reaction isn’t as important as being able to share on an emotional level. Often there are automatic reactions to something that is scary or hurtful, that look like anger. Anger is big and safe. Anger is often times easier to feel. The angry reactions you have often push your partner to react as well. Then, you end up further apart.
Can you be vulnerable and share your deeper feelings?
Is it worth the risk to try something different and scary? It may take more than one try to really understand yourself. It will take more than one try to go deeper with your spouse. Keep trying. Share yourself and look for the deeper feeling in what the other is saying. Being aware of the roles you play and pattern you get stuck in can also help decrease the anger and help you share your deeper feelings.
This is hard, but good work. Many couples need help growing in this way. If you are trying it on your own and it’s not working, try getting professional support. Your marriage is worth the investment.
Please contact me through my website or call (559) 238-7464 for more information.