Express your feelings with words and take responsibility for them; own and express your feelings, respectfully.
You've heard it before, or probably even said it..."You made me feel..." or "You always/never..." It's pretty common to take out your anger by directing it toward your spouse. But, as you can probably imagine, approaching things that way usually immediately puts your spouse on the defensive. Starting a conversation with either person already being on the defensive has the likelihood of going sideways. It often leads to arguements and hurt feelings.
Instead, starting your statements with "I" is a good technique to help you take responsibility for your feelings. This is an example of you taking ownership of your own feelings, instead of blaming them on your spouse.
It's a simple formula - "I" + how you feel + spouse's action.
For example, "I feel hurt when you ignore my phone calls." Then you can explain HOW it makes you feel, such as "When you ignore my phone calls, I feel like I am not important to you or that you don't want to talk to me." Or, "I feel angry when you leave dirty dishes in the sink, because I feel like all the work is left for me. Or "because I feel that is disrespectful to me." These are good examples of how you can express how you feel, without putting the blame on your spouse.
The most important part of this Rule is sharing with your spouse how their actions make you feel. It shouldn't be about making your spouse feel bad or guilty for their actions, but to give them some insight into how their actions impact you. Usually, that insight is helpful for your spouse, because then they have some understanding as to the WHY, and can find ways to adapt. Once we understanding something, we can usually approach it differently.
In the next blog post we'll talk about Rule #3 -
Take Turns Talking, which goes hand in hand with Reflective Listening.
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