Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Marriage Therpay: Lesson 5

Today we're talking about feelings. Whether you know it or not, you probably have some misconstrued ideas about feelings. The more I read the more I see that most people's view of feelings are slightly jaded. We think that anger and fear are bad, that joy is the only good feeling. Or, some people think that every feeling needs to be explored and felt to its fullest. I don't really buy into that when it comes to anger and fear. What I think is that somewhere in the middle is best by learning what we're feeling, why we're feeling it, and appropriate ways to express it.
I'll start with a personal example. Last week some stuff happened to my husband and I that affected me negatively. I didn't want to be angry about it, but the feeling was lurking. Since the stuff happened to my husband too, I started to get frustrated that he wasn't sharing the same emotions (or so I thought). I felt bad that I was angry and as I tried unsuccessfully to cover it up, I grew more angry and was finally able to identify (label) what I was feeling. Sometimes putting a name to what you are feeling is hard. Super hard. Once I figured out that I was angry, part of me wanted to give in and just have a full-on anger fest. Rant. Rave. You get the idea. Thankfully, I didn't explore that path too much, but I felt angry and needed some way to get rid of it. 
So I talked to my husband, opened up about how things had gone down. We have a great relationship but I still feel vulnerable whenever I share what I'm truly feeling and it's hard. As we talked, I realized he was feeling very similar emotions. I never would have guessed. After we finished talking, the original incident hadn't changed. The problem wasn't fixed, but I felt better. I was no longer as angry and every day I feel a little better. 

Looking back, I'm glad I had the anger. It helped me to see what my priorities are, what I really want. It was an important part of my learning and growth process. The important thing I learned was that I wasn't bad for feeling angry, but my choices would have been bad if I acted out in anger. There's a huge difference there. And even if someone acts out in anger, that doesn't make them bad, that's just a bad choice. Choices can be fixed. 
Your assignment this week is to identify a feeling or feelings you're having. Four main feelings are anger, fear, sadness, or joy (unless your Disney and there's disgust too).
Once you've identified an emotion, tell your spouse about it. Don't use it to blame, just explain how you feel. Tell them you're not looking for anything other then for them to listen. You don't need anything fixed or changed, you just want to express an emotion. It might help to tell your spouse about this assignment. Tell them you want to be more open and honest. Ask them to share their emotions with you when they're ready. Give them space to share in their own time whether it is minutes, hours, days, or weeks later.

Try it out and see what happens. Sometimes sharing emotions can bring up hard things. Sometimes it's painful and might make things worse for a time, but if you can get to the root of a problem, you can actually make progress instead of heaping on more layers of superficial problems.  

Good luck in your marriage this week. If you're reading this, that means you are trying and good things happen when we keep trying. 

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