Feelings unlock understanding.

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.

Definition:

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

           Upset/frustrated.

Intensity:

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

a little, slightly,
very, extremely

Duration:

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

since yesterday
since last week

Context:

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 …


Examples:

  • 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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