3 Expert Tips For Expressing Your Feelings To Your Partner Effectively

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3 Expert Tips For Expressing Your Feelings To Your Partner
Love

If you're not naturally open to expressing your feelings to your romantic partner, strengthening the connection in your relationship may be difficult.

When one or both partners in a marriage bottle up their feelings, it will do significant damage to the relationship over time.

When we hold in and bottle up the things that bother us, resentment builds up until a person explodes and does or says something extremely detrimental to the marriage.

In fact, over 50 percent of the people who come to me for anger management counseling have been bottling everything up for years and then, like a pressure cooker, they find themselves exploding and blowing their top off.

RELATED: 4 Reasons Your Man Has Trouble Expressing Emotions With You

Often, anger is a mask. So, while angry people often believe they are expressing themselves every time they get angry, they aren’t.

What lies beneath the anger is hurt, regret, disappointment, fear, and anxiety. These are not expressed — only anger is.

So, the relationship is full of aggression and conflict when differences do not get resolved because the real issues are not being expressed and dealt with.

Expressing feelings in a safe way can lead to happier and healthier relationships, so you and your partner can feel closer.

You'll be able to express our love, appreciation, joy, admiration, and kindness to your partner.

If you’re someone who is used to holding your emotions in, then you're probably thinking that this is easier said than done.

So, here are 3 expert tips for expressing your feelings to your partner, effectively.

1. Go within, first.

Before you express your feelings, it's important to create some time to pause and go within.

Sit quietly somewhere for a few minutes and ask yourself, "What am I really feeling?" and "Where do I feel this in my body?"

2. Acknowledge your feelings by stating them.

The most reliable way to express your feelings is to say "I feel…" and then filling in the blank with a feeling word — sad, confused, angry, scared, lonely, worried, and fearful are examples. 

Some words are more perceptions and judgments than actual feelings. Words like betrayed, abandoned, rejected, humiliated, and isolated are all beliefs.

These judgments keep us caught in our story and the drama as they are all a subtle forms of blame or passive aggression.

When we're not expressing our true emotions and are instead blaming or being passive aggressive in our feelings, the feelings stay.

We need to stop blaming to fully let go of the anger, hurt, and fear. David Richo talks about this in his book, How To Be An Adult. Once anger is let out and expressed, there is a deep gutted sorrow behind it. So, often, when the anger releases we are deeply hurt or grieving.

Another common mistake that people often make when they're trying to share a feeling is to say "I feel that..." The word that indicates that what will follow is going to be a thought, not a feeling.

For example, "I feel that we should go to bed at the same time," is completely different from, "I feel frustrated when we go to bed at different times at night."

The former is a statement that may not get much empathy or spark a change in the behavior, while the second one is far more powerful as it gives insight into how that person is really feeling.

When we say, "I feel that..." we state a thought, belief, or perception, and not an actual feeling.

Thoughts are useful to share as well, but feelings also need to be expressed to be fully understood. They convey dry information, not the real feelings and truth of what you're experiencing within.

Couples in relationships definitely become closer and more connected when they share their feelings. Sharing thoughts does not unite them in the same way.

Emotional connection is where you look inside and express your inner feelings — hopeful, pleased, wary, discouraged, etc.

One husband I worked with won back his wife’s love after they separated and stopped a divorce. He really studied feeling words and was able to communicate with his wife on a level they never had before.

However, he did want to interrupt and stop his wife when she was saying, "I feel that…"

I advised him that he had to let that go, and unless she too wanted to learn more about how to express feelings in their relationship, it would not help their communication or the relationship.

Bottom line: Avoid stating beliefs, perceptions, judgments, and thoughts, instead of feelings as they don’t really help the conversation and connection as much as expressing true feelings do.

RELATED: If You Have These 9 Thoughts About Your Relationship, It’s Probably A Healthy One

3. Don’t say, "You make me feel..."

When learning how to express your feelings and be a more open person, the most common mistake a lot of men and women make is to say: "You make me feel…"

This is one of those phrases that's never a good idea as it comes across as an accusation and a statement of blame rather than a statement of feelings.

Imagine for a moment someone says to you:

  • "You make me feel upset."
  • "You make me feel unattractive."
  • "You make me feel scared."

It invites antagonism, defensiveness, and retaliation from you.

Whereas if they said:

  • "I feel upset."
  • "I feel unattractive."
  • "I feel scared."

You are more likely going to have empathy, compassion, and concern, and you'll hopefully want to help.

The other problem with saying, "You make me feel," is it takes all your power way — it turns you into a victim without any control.

You are basically saying to yourself that you're stuck with your feelings unless they change and, therefore, are not taking responsibility for your own feelings.

"You make me feel..." statements can also induce guilt or shame in a partner. Saying, "You make me feel this..." is like saying, "I want to punish you for this — it’s your fault I'm feeling this way and I want you to feel bad."

This is not helpful because, generally, one person alone does not make another feel anything.

It's always a combination of what one person says or does and the other person’s interpretation of the words or actions. It’s the meaning you give it.

For example, if you try to make someone laugh by making a sarcastic joke, they might respond with mild amusement or with annoyance, frustration, or affection.

Depending on your own filters of whether you like them at that moment, you may find sarcasm funny that day.

It’s the combination of what someone says or does and what you bring to the situation in terms of your way of viewing it and how you're feeling.

RELATED: 4 Ways To Get In Touch With Your Emotions (That Will Make Your Relationships Way Better)

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Nicola Beer is a Marriage Transformation Specialist and Founder of Save My Marriage Program. To book one of her free ultimate connector consultations, email her at nicola@savemymarriageprogram.com. If you haven’t already, read the 7 Secrets to Saving Your Marriage, get your Free Report, visit her website.

This article was originally published at nicolabeer.com. Reprinted with permission from the author.