Talking about Feelings
Talking about Feelings
5 Communication Myths that Are Ruining Your Relationship
You already know that talking about feelings is the key to having a good relationship with someone you love.
But if you’re anything like I was, sometimes expressing your feelings starts a big fight, leaving you feeling like it’s not safe to share your inner self.
It’s crummy. Here you are revealing your truth and the response you get from the person who’s supposed to love and support you is distance or downright disregard.
There’s no lonelier feeling.
Fortunately, I’ve uncovered some common myths about communicating that were hurting my relationship. Now that I know how to talk about my feelings while increasing the connection with my husband, I want everyone else to know too!
Myth #1: Feelings Are Always Okay to Share
This is one I used to swear by.
As long as I started a sentence with “I feel…” I thought I was in the clear because I was just talking about my feelings.
I would say things like “I feel like you don’t do enough of the housework” or “I feel like you never want to spend time with me.”
I believed this was not only okay but completely necessary. After all, it was how I felt, which is always valid to share.
Problem was I wasn’t sharing my feelings in those statements–only criticisms of my husband. On careful examination, those sentences have nothing to do with how I was actually feeling. I didn’t say I felt overwhelmed with all the housework or that I was lonely, which are actual feeling words.
I was just putting the words “I feel” at the beginning and saying any damn thing I wanted after that.
No wonder I wasn’t getting a great response! I was just taking potshots at him then wondering why he was so hostile whenever I tried to talk to him.
Now I know if I use the word “like” after I start talking about my feelings, I’m probably about to roam down a dark alley. At the very least, I’m not being emotionally honest.
Today I strive to express my feelings about myself (not him) by using a feeling word such as “sad,” “frustrated” or “grateful.”
It’s amazing how tenderly my husband responds when I do.
Myth #2: Saying “We” and “Us” Keeps Things Friendly
Another thing I used to do trying talk my way out of the relationship ditch we were in was to include us both.
I’d say things like “We need to talk,” “We don’t know how to communicate,” and “Both of us got upset.”
I let him know “We need to work on things.”
I thought including us both would make the conversation feel safer because I wasn’t pointing fingers.
The problem is I was placing blame, cleverly disguised by the word “we.”
Or so I thought. My chicanery was about as effective as a toddler hiding a piece of broccoli in a glass of milk.
I was broadcasting the subtext “You need to listen to me” or “You upset me” or “You need to work on our relationship.”
These days I try to stick to what’s true for me, which means saying “I” and “me.”
This is how that sounds: “I got upset” or “I’m grumpy today and everything is bugging me.”
Or I might say, “I’m nervous about giving this big talk tomorrow.”
No criticism or finger pointing in sight.
Myth #3: In a Good Relationship, You Share Everything
I can just imagine that if someone had suggested that I keep some things from my husband early in my marriage, I would have snidely said, “We talk about everything!”
I believed this was the mark of a good relationship. There shouldn’t be any secrets. Not if you loved each other.
Now I see things a little differently.
Let’s say my husband makes a mistake that seems easily preventable. I might keep my comments to myself at that moment instead of saying, “Didn’t you notice the hatchback was still open when you closed the garage door?”
I’m not keeping a secret exactly. Just leaving him room to exercise his right to be wrong without giving him grief about it, even if I’m thinking it.
Yes, we talk about a lot, but some things I share with other women instead.
For example, my husband is not that interested in–nor does he have much to say about–the physical aspects of being a woman, whereas I am endlessly fascinated by that topic.
Lucky for me, I have two sisters and several girlfriends who are also interested and can contribute to those conversations.
Myth #4: Happy Couples Have Long Conversations about Their Relationship
I sure fell for this one a long time, wasting a lot of time creating unnecessary drama and anguish by trying to force long talks. My husband resisted these State of the Union addresses mightily.
No wonder–I wanted to focus on what was wrong, which only made those things bigger and more glaring.
Thankfully, I finally wised up.
The only conversations we have about our relationship now are super short. It’s when one of us says, “Gee, we sure have a great relationship.”
I say that not to brag (well, maybe a little) but because keeping things short and sweet has helped make the relationship great.
There’s nothing to say to my husband about our relationship that would take a long time.
There are things I desire, which I express by saying “I would love…” then telling him the final outcome I want.
There are things I can’t do without feeling resentful or costing me self-care, which I communicate by saying simply “I can’t.”
Sometimes I share about my day or ask to borrow his brain or reminisce about great times we had together.
We talk about our dreams and schemes and gossip about the neighbors and make up storylines for the rabbits in the backyard.
But as far as the relationship? There’s just not much to discuss. So we don’t–and it’s bliss.
Myth #5: Never Go to Bed Mad
OMG, I thought this one was gospel!
I remember lots of late-night arguments that only got worse the longer I stayed up and tried to talk it out.
Finally I heard Phyllis Diller’s take: “Never go to bed mad. Stay up and fight!”
I giggled and cringed because that was exactly what we’d been doing. It seems ridiculous now because sometimes when I’m upset at night and go to sleep, in the morning I can’t even remember why I was upset.
I recently saw where someone had written on the wall above their bed, “Maybe making out for a few minutes would help us figure things out.”
I know you may not feel like it when you’re mad. But what if it helps you figure things out? Wouldn’t it be worth it?
So instead of talking about how mad you are, consider kissing him madly and seeing how it goes. Or just going to sleep.
Maybe it’s not the most conventional way to express your feelings, but it definitely contributes to a passionate, playful relationship.
What myths did I forget? Share below in the comments which ones you’ve heard that don’t serve your relationship. I’d love to hear.
What to do next…
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