Today, we’re going one step further in our discussion on “Men and Openness” by talking about … “talking about our feelings.” Based upon the Men and Openness survey I conducted recently, 53.45% of the men chose – “I don’t know how to articulate my feelings” as their second highest response to why opening up with their wives is difficult.
Last week I talked about how to identify your feelings—since it is essential to know what you feel before you attempt to communicate your feelings to your spouse. Click here to read that post. This week I want to share five helpful steps so that you’ll increase the likelihood of having a successful conversation.
Step One – Schedule a time to talk.
Discuss what would be the optimum time to discuss your feelings with your wife—letting her have a “heads up” as well as being able to weigh in on when to have the talk. This communicates your respect of her time and gives her time to mentally prepare.
Step Two – Prepare your heart by “processing” first.
Prayer is always the best way to prepare your heart for processing emotions. So begin to pray daily about what you are feeling, telling God how you feel before you say a word to your wife. I’m going to provide a Processing Emotions guide and Feeling Words list that will help you to write out, think through, and reflect upon what you’ve been feeling. This guide will also provide much-needed perspective, since …
[Tweet “Unprocessed emotions tend to distort our perspective. #gainclarityfirst”]
Step Three – Practice sharing your processed feelings with a trusted confidante first.
Before you have the conversation, it’s best to practice this new way of communicating with someone you trust. However, make sure that your “listener” practices reflective listening as you share. Here’s a link to a Reflective Listening Guide that you can utilize both now and when you talk with your mate.
Step Four – Pray with your spouse before you begin the conversation.
If your spouse is willing to pray with you, this can be a HUGE aid in bringing calmness and respect to your heart-to-heart. If your wife is uncomfortable with this intimate step, make sure you pray on your own (not in front of your her) before sitting down to talk with your mate.
Step Five – Ask your mate to practice “Reflective Listening” during the heart-to-heart.
This may seem awkward to you and your mate, but it’s absolutely essential—especially if you and your mate have extreme feelings, deep-seated wounds, or a habit of arguing when you discuss matters.*
If you consistently utilize reflective listening whenever you share difficult feelings with one another, you’ll begin to integrate these healthy patterns into your communication style. In fact, you should try practicing reflective listening during positive conversations as well, just to reinforce the effect in less stressful times.
Once this pattern is fully integrated into your relational style, you won’t need to follow the guide down to a “t.” It’s at that point that reflective listening will actually feel comfortable—becoming second-nature to your relationship.
One word of warning – don’t overwhelm your mate by sharing too many feelings all in one sitting. Consider this an ongoing conversation that will be shared over time. Even though I’ve provided the Processing Emotions guide, you might want to stick with the simplicity of the Reflective Listening guide for your first attempt at sharing your emotions with your wife.
[Tweet “Reflective listening is a cast that holds your new communication pattern in place as it heals.”]
Next week I’d like to discuss the responses that the men gave regarding how their wives can reinforce positive interactions whenever they are brave enough to talk openly with them. That should be a post that all of you wives won’t want to miss!
Also, Happy Thanksgiving to all of you! I hope it’s full of laughter, connecting, praising God and, of course, enjoying good food with your family! I may be a bit distracted on this Wedded Wednesday since I have my son and daughter-in-“love” visiting, as well as lots of family activities with my extended family this week! But I will try to visit the blogs of those who comment! 🙂
[Tweet “Christian bloggers, come join us for the Wedded Wednesday Linkup! #messymarriage”]
What suggestions would you add to my list of steps that would aid in articulating feelings to your mate?
What is your biggest challenge with articulating your own feelings to your mate?
I hope you’ll check out Lori Schumaker’s post – Stuck in the Replays of Life, where she gives a shout out to our recent guest blogger, Mary Geisen! Those are two inspiring posts you’ll definitely want to check out!
*If your mate is unwilling to practice reflective listening, then I would recommend either waiting until she is willing or have the conversation in the presence of a mediator like a counselor.
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