By verbalizing feelings to each other,  you enter into a space of mutual understanding, shared problem thinking, and intimate partnership.

When your spouse shares a feeling with you, accept it and explore it together.

A:  “I feel excited.”

B:  “What are you feeling excited about what?”

A: “I feel excited because I received a bonus with my paycheck!”

The words you use to start a conversation set the tone for the entire conversation. Words that express strong feelings or thoughts tend to derail discussions – quickly.

Under the upset and anger, there are other feelings that would probably invite more positive responses.

I feel annoyed …

I am concerned…

I am perplexed …

I can’t believe that you …

I am distressed  …

How could you …

I’m feeling blue …

I am worried …

I’m going to scream …

I feel terrible about …

I have a dilemma …

I’m having a hard time …

Once you name the feeling, you’ll need to expand on it,

  • to define what it means to you,
  • to explain the intensity of your feelings,
  • the duration,
  • the context and any historical information that will help the other understand exactly how you feel.


Describe what you mean by the feeling. ‘Upset’ can mean different things to people.  Use synonyms or ‘slashwords’.



Use modifying words to express the intensity of your feeling or choose a synonym that more accurately portrays it.

a little, slightly,
very, extremely


Explain how long you have been feeling like this. This can express the seriousness of your feeling.

since yesterday
since last week


Describe the context – without blaming.

Historical precedent:

When you had a similar feeling in the past.

I felt like this when …
This reminds me of …


  • I feel very angry [feeling].
  • I’m upset and disappointed and I really feel let down [definition].
  • This night out was a big deal for me [intensity].
  • The moment I realized [duration] that you didn’t make the reservations,
  • I had a sinking feeling, just like when my sister didn’t show up for my birthday [historical precedent].
  • When I don’t get something I was really looking forward to and counting on [context], it really hits me hard.
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