I do sometimes wonder whether to share my emotions with my partner.
On the one hand, he wants to know my thoughts and feelings – there would be no real intimacy in a relationship if we didn’t share on a deeper level. On the other hand, being open does put me in a vulnerable place. As mentioned in an earlier post, I can feel judged when he does not agree with how I feel.
Hearing the words “You’re being emotional” does not help either – I know I am being emotional, but it’s very hard to come out of that space when you are in it. I know that relationships do involve the willingness to be vulnerable, so I have some thoughts on what has helped me:
1. Being willing to wait for one or two days before communicating
Waiting helps to take the edge off my emotions so they are not as strong. This is much easier said than done. Emotions can be so strong that I feel I HAVE to say something at that moment. I have been there so many times, and looking back, I do notice a pattern of sorts. If I feel I must say something immediately, that is usually a sign that I should wait. The times when communication with my partner has been most effective is when the emotions are present but not overpowering. I have to come to that point when I can honestly say, “This is important, but if this is not a good time, let’s make a time to talk later”. That is a sign that I am calm enough about the issue to communicate. I have learnt to wait and I thank God for a partner who has shown commitment to the relationship, so I know that issues will get talked through.
2. Get it off my chest while waiting (i.e. without my partner present)
When I am upset about something in my relationship, I do need to express the emotions, thoughts, precipitating events etc. Doing so helps me to get to the right head/heart space to communicate effectively (see point #1). However, it is important to express without inflicting further damage on the relationship because things are already strained at that point in time. I find it helpful to express it on my own – through writing in my journal/doing a voice recording/talking to a trusted and mature friend who will just listen and not get me more emotional (important to pick carefully!). After this first step, I find it easier to deal with the problem.
3. Examine where emotions come from and where they are leading me
Judging one’s emotions is unhelpful, especially so in a relationship. What my partner and I can do is to consider the basis of my emotions. For example, if I get upset over a comment about my cooking skills, the source of the problem is insecurity about what my partner values in me. We can take steps to address that. I can also examine actions and decisions that are sparked off by my emotions. E.g. I could be worried about how much gaming my partner does, but I do have a choice as to how often I talk about it. If I have expressed my concerns, I do not have to keep repeating it – that would only make things worse. As a grown man, he knows that actions have consequences so I need to respect his autonomy and resist the urge to nag.