One of the biggest problems that many marriages encounter is that one or both parties don't know how to put their feelings into words or don't even know what their feelings are. This can lead to hastily constructed statements that don't get to the core of the problem, cause misunderstandings, and develop more hurt. Here are some ways to pay attention to your emotions and utilize them to communicate more effectively with your spouse.
1. Write Down Your Thoughts
There's a good chance that you and your spouse have patterns of behavior that can be destructive for both of you. For example, you might get upset when your spouse plays video games with his or her friends instead of going out to dinner with you on a Friday night. You might try to push the feelings down because you like it when your spouse hangs out with his or her friends because it makes your spouse happy and that the hurt you feel is silly and childish. Then, the feelings eventually come welling up and you eventually shout at your spouse that he or she "never talks to you."
After each time you go through this pattern, you need to write down the thoughts that you have. Maybe you have thoughts about being bored, about being unappreciated, or about being lonely. All of these thoughts have an underlying emotion with them. By writing down your thoughts after each encounter, you will be able to tease out the emotions behind your thoughts and spot the patterns.
2. Put Emotions into Words
Once you think you have a pattern of emotions that you feel, write these down as well. Then, try to put them into words out loud. Talk about how you first feel hurt when your partner chooses his or her friends over you, then you feel frustrated because you thought you had plans, they didn't happen, and now you're bored, and then you feel worried about your feelings of hurt and frustration. Saying this out loud reduces the emotions to events that occurred, rather than life-altering sways of energy. It helps you put the emotions into perspective.
3. Talk to Your Partner
Finally, say the emotions that you feel to your partner in order to clue him or her as to what's going on. Invite your partner to do the same. By telling each other your emotions, you foster empathy between both of you and allow you to reach a compromise.
For more information, talk to a counselor like Malan Relationship Health that specializes in helping people in marriages resolve their emotions.