Marriage Healers

Imago Relationship Therapy

Pre-Marital - Marriage Enrichment - Divorce Prevention

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ACA Marriage
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Sharing feelings

 Q: My wife, rightfully, gets frustrated when I cannot share my feelings with her. Frankly, if I knew my feelings I would be glad to share them. This probably sounds ridiculous, but is there any way for me to know my feelings so I can talk about them? My wife does this so easily, but it is as if someone is asking me to speak Greek. Any suggestions?

A: Many people lack the vocabulary to distinguish and describe the subtle shades of emotions; you are not alone in this struggle. Men particularly, were often not encouraged as children to pay attention to feelings but rather were encouraged to “keep a stiff upper lip” or “don’t be a sissy” or “be a brave little soldier.” I have two suggestions for gaining an emotional vocabulary and for identifying your feelings.

First, sit down with a pencil and paper and list as many feelings and words as you can. After you have completed your list, ask your wife to do the same. Combine the lists so you have a reference sheet. This can often be useful to look at from time to time and see what “feeling word” best fits for you at a particular time.

Second, read the following feeling vignettes and fill in the “feeling word” that feels right for you. There is no right or wrong answer. Refer to your list of “feeling words” if it is helpful.

        You wake up in the night and hear a strange noise and feel…

        You discover your child has just shoplifted, you feel…

        You are talking with an employee, knowing you have to fire him and you feel…

        You get a letter from your father and feel…

        You watch your child in a talent show and feel…

        The car in front of you is going 35 in a 55 mile zone and there is no place to pass. You feel…

        Someone you love touches you and you feel…