Do you feel as though you can go to your spouse and tell them about whatever you’re feeling, even when you’re feeling unsatisfied with your relationship? Though it probably doesn’t sound like a fun conversation, voicing your feelings as soon as possible can actually help prevent more complicated problems from developing. Creating a relationship where you can openly and honestly express yourself takes two people working together; it requires a commitment from both parties to share their feelings honestly and openly, and accept their partner’s feelings.
Why Sharing Your Feelings Is Important
Recent studies have shown that a shocking 31% of adults over 45 feel lonely in their marriages. And, according to 48% of men who cheated, emotional dissatisfaction is the main reason they cheated. Though there’s no one-size-fits all approach to preventing affairs, loneliness, or marital dissatisfaction, having a relationship where both parties can safely share their emotions, needs, and expectations may be a crucial part of preventing marital problems that lead to divorce. If your spouse doesn’t know how you’re feeling, what you’re needing, or what you expect out of them, they may have a hard time meeting those expectations. In short, being open and honest with your partner and encouraging them to be open and honest with you may help prevent long-term dissatisfaction that contributes to divorce.
Creating a Safe Space to Share Feelings
You can create a safe space in your relationship by actually using the “I feel” statements that all the adults were talking about when you were growing up. Don’t wait for your partner to ask you what’s wrong; tell them as soon as you’re in the right frame of mind to discuss your feelings. Instead of accusing your significant other of malice whenever your needs and expectations are not met, you can simply tell them how you feel. For example, if dishes are your partner’s chore, you may say, “I feel overwhelmed when I have to do the dishes after work.” In a healthy relationship, you and your partner will come up with a solution where the dishes get done and you don’t feel overwhelmed. This may look like your partner doing a different chore so you have time to do the dishes. Or, your partner may realize that they are supposed to be doing the dishes, and to prevent you from feeling overwhelmed, they’ll remember to do the dishes in the future. If your partner is resentful, condescending, or otherwise unempathetic after you calmly tell them how you’re feeling, it may be a sign of trouble in the relationship.
Feelings Aren’t Always Accusations
Telling your partner how you feel in a calm, collected manner is only half the work when it comes to creating a relationship that fosters openness and honesty. In order to encourage your partner to talk about their feelings and needs openly, you need to be accepting when they do share their feelings. Remember, feelings are not always accusations. If your partner says they aren’t feeling as connected to you as they used to be, they aren’t necessarily accusing you of doing something wrong, they’re simply telling you how they feel. Instead of telling them why they shouldn’t feel that way, attempting to prove them wrong for feeling that way, or otherwise getting defensive, you can start by asking your partner why they feel that way. You could also ask them if there’s anything that you could do to help them feel more connected.
Feelings Aren’t Right or Wrong
Feelings aren’t right or wrong, they simply are. Believing that you don’t have a right to feel angry, hurt, or guilt, likely doesn’t change the fact that you still feel those things. If your significant other comes to you and tells you that they feel angry when you don’t come home from work on time, your spouse isn’t necessarily wrong for feeling that way—that doesn’t mean that they’re right either. It simply means that your behavior angers your spouse. You can work as a team to solve this by getting to the bottom of why this behavior angers your spouse and what you can do about it. Maybe they worry about you when you’re an hour late and have not answered your phone. You can fix this by sending them a text when you’re leaving the office. Or, maybe you need to change the expectations of when you’ll be home. Whatever the solution is, finding it will require you to listen to your spouse when they’re telling you how they feel, and being part of the solution.
When Your Feelings Influence You
Though feelings aren’t necessarily right or wrong, they can sometimes influence people to be unreasonable. Sometimes people take out their stress and frustration on their significant other. It’s not uncommon for some people to deal with morning crankiness. Try to catch yourself when you’re being unreasonable. If your partner hasn’t responded to your email, and you know they have meetings all day, you may feel angry. It’s okay to feel angry. But immediately blowing up at your partner over that is probably overkill. Instead, if you feel that your feelings are causing you to be unreasonable, you can distance yourself from the situation by giving yourself time to cool down. If you feel your spouse is being unreasonable, you can simply ask them, “What can I do to make this situation better?” If their feelings really are causing them to be unreasonable, their answer might be unreasonable as well. In those cases, it may be a good idea to give them some space to work through their feelings.
No One Dies from Divorce
At CoilLaw, we’re divorce pros, but we’re not necessarily pro divorce. We want whatever will promote the happiness of our clients—even if that means staying married. In a healthy marriage, you should be able to express yourself freely, without fear of your spouse’s anger or judgment. If you have concerns about your marriage, check out No One Dies from Divorce. No One Dies from Divorce is a book about deciding whether or not it’s time to end your marriage and, if it is time to end the marriage, how to thrive and survive through the divorce process. If you’re ready to survive and thrive in the most difficult times, pick up your copy today.