5 Steps for a Successful Heart-to-Heart with Your Wife And Linkup

Self-DisclosureToday, we’re going one step further in our discussion on “Men and Openness” by talking about … “talking about our feelings.” Based upon the Men and Openness survey I conducted recently, 53.45% of the men chose – “I don’t know how to articulate my feelings” as their second highest response to why opening up with their wives is difficult.

Last week I talked about how to identify your feelings—since it is essential to know what you feel before you attempt to communicate your feelings to your spouse. Click here to read that post. This week I want to share five helpful steps so that you’ll increase the likelihood of having a successful conversation.

Step One – Schedule a time to talk.
Discuss what would be the optimum time to discuss your feelings with your wife—letting her have a “heads up” as well as being able to weigh in on when to have the talk. This communicates your respect of her time and gives her time to mentally prepare.

Step Two – Prepare your heart by “processing” first.
Prayer is always the best way to prepare your heart for processing emotions. So begin to pray daily about what you are feeling, telling God how you feel before you say a word to your wife. I’m going to provide a Processing Emotions guide and Feeling Words list that will help you to write out, think through, and reflect upon what you’ve been feeling. This guide will also provide much-needed perspective, since …

[Tweet “Unprocessed emotions tend to distort our perspective. #gainclarityfirst”]

Step Three – Practice sharing your processed feelings with a trusted confidante first.
Before you have the conversation, it’s best to practice this new way of communicating with someone you trust. However, make sure that your “listener” practices reflective listening as you share. Here’s a link to a Reflective Listening Guide that you can utilize both now and when you talk with your mate.

Step Four – Pray with your spouse before you begin the conversation.
If your spouse is willing to pray with you, this can be a HUGE aid in bringing calmness and respect to your heart-to-heart. If your wife is uncomfortable with this intimate step, make sure you pray on your own (not in front of your her) before sitting down to talk with your mate.

Step Five – Ask your mate to practice Reflective Listening” during the heart-to-heart.
This may seem awkward to you and your mate, but it’s absolutely essential—especially if you and your mate have extreme feelings, deep-seated wounds, or a habit of arguing when you discuss matters.*

If you consistently utilize reflective listening whenever you share difficult feelings with one another, you’ll begin to integrate these healthy patterns into your communication style. In fact, you should try practicing reflective listening during positive conversations as well, just to reinforce the effect in less stressful times.

Once this pattern is fully integrated into your relational style, you won’t need to follow the guide down to a “t.” It’s at that point that reflective listening will actually feel comfortable—becoming second-nature to your relationship.

One word of warning – don’t overwhelm your mate by sharing too many feelings all in one sitting. Consider this an ongoing conversation that will be shared over time. Even though I’ve provided the Processing Emotions guide, you might want to stick with the simplicity of the Reflective Listening guide for your first attempt at sharing your emotions with your wife.

[Tweet “Reflective listening is a cast that holds your new communication pattern in place as it heals.”]

Next week I’d like to discuss the responses that the men gave regarding how their wives can reinforce positive interactions whenever they are brave enough to talk openly with them. That should be a post that all of you wives won’t want to miss!

Also, Happy Thanksgiving to all of you! I hope it’s full of laughter, connecting, praising God and, of course, enjoying good food with your family! I may be a bit distracted on this Wedded Wednesday since I have my son and daughter-in-“love” visiting, as well as lots of family activities with my extended family this week! But I will try to visit the blogs of those who comment! 🙂

[Tweet “Christian bloggers, come join us for the Wedded Wednesday Linkup! #messymarriage”]

What suggestions would you add to my list of steps that would aid in articulating feelings to your mate?

 

What is your biggest challenge with articulating your own feelings to your mate?

 

I hope you’ll check out Lori Schumaker’s post – Stuck in the Replays of Life, where she gives a shout out to our recent guest blogger, Mary Geisen! Those are two inspiring posts you’ll definitely want to check out!

*If your mate is unwilling to practice reflective listening, then I would recommend either waiting until she is willing or have the conversation in the presence of a mediator like a counselor.


Joining with my friends at Giving Up on Perfect, Wifey Wednesday, A Little R & R Wednesdays, Mondays @ Soul Survival, Coffee and Conversation, Coffee for Your Heart DanceWithJesusFriday and Wholehearted Wednesday.

Join our Wedded Wednesday Linkup!
Add any links that are uplifting, helpful and encouraging to our spiritual lives, marriages and families! Be sure to add a link on your blog back to Wedded Wednesday or Messy Marriage as well.

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  • Susan Burfoot Mead

    Reflective listen. Powerful! Happy Thanksgiving. Hugs. Susan

    • Thanks so much for coming by, joining the linkup and encouraging me, Susan. I hope you and your family have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

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  • Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

    Beth, this is a great post, and I hope that many men will print it and have it tattooed to their forearms. Someplace it won’t be lost.

    I’ve been (and am) very ill, so I might have missed this, but it bears repeating…for a man, the thought of’scheduling a time to talk’ might be hard.

    The words “we’ve got to talk”, delivered by the woman while dating, are a code for “the relationship is over”. It seems to be a Western cultural thing, and this may be very difficult for some men to overcome.

    http://blessed-are-the-pure-of-heart.blogspot.com/2015/11/your-dying-spouse-87-worst-version-of.html

    • Thanks, Andrew. Your kind words mean a lot to me.

      And you are right about men hesitating to have this kind of conversation. That’s something that I hope I’ll be able to touch on and address next week or at least in the weeks to come. My husband has learned to initiate conversations like this with me after we’ve seen the way reflective listening (done right) can enhance and deepen our connection. It’s truly helped to increase our ability to empathize with each other, so it’s something we’ve “learned” to appreciate and use. But you are right, it’s associated with bad feelings and experiences for men in particular.

      Happy Thanksgiving, my friend!

  • Happy Thanksgiving Beth. Thank you for this post…’reflective listening’ that is powerful.
    This is like going back to the basics of communication. This has helped me too!

    Instead of hearing what I want to hear, reflective listening helps me listen to what he *Hubby* is saying and not what my head tells me he is saying!

    Thank you for this instructive post.
    Looking forward to the next one…
    Blessings to you Beth

    • I’m so glad to hear that you’ve used this method and found it helpful, Ifeoma. And yes! It truly does train you to fully listen instead of formulating what you are wanting to say back. In fact, I think it also helps my brain to process the emotion of what my husband is saying more because I must repeat the emotions he communicates to me. It’s very powerful to say exactly how I’ve hurt him with my own mouth in front of him. Nothing breaks my heart more than to realize that I’ve hurt him in that way. Saying it really gives it concreteness that only hearing it doesn’t bring. Thanks for your kind words and for joining the conversation, my friend!

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  • This is a very practical approach Beth. Effective communication must be desired, deliberate and pursued for success in marriage and I like what I have read.
    Many thanks for this simple but profound enlightenment.
    Have a Happy Thanksgiving!
    Love

    • I wholeheartedly agree, Ugochi. I often tell my coaching clients that they must “over-communicate” in marriage. However, most couples under-communicate, so it’s no wonder they drift and argue! Thanks for joining the conversation, my friend!

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  • Wonderful post as always ♥ Wishing you and your family a blessed Thanksgiving!

    • Thank you, Nannette! I hope you and your family have a spectacular Thanksgiving too!

  • Mary Flaherty

    We don’t do this. At all. I tend to stew, then blurt. Then he gets hurt. Hey that’s pretty good–Blurt=Hurt. You can use this. Haha. Anyway, using humor to cover the uncomfortable truth-that’s me..yeah, we have a few things to work on it seems. Ouch, hallelujah! Enjoy your Thanksgiving, Beth!

    • I like it–“blurt then hurt!” 😉 Yes, I have a tendency to use humor to cover my uncomfortableness too, Mary. My husband typically hates that and oddly never seems to find the humor of my sarcasm. Go figure! In fact, some of our “heart-to-hearts” are unpacking some of these poorly timed jokes. I do hope you and your hubby give reflective listening a try. It really can be a powerful tool if you stick to the formula. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

  • Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family, Beth! Great thoughts as always.

    • Happy Thanksgiving to you too, Debbie! Thanks also for your friendship and encouragement. It means a lot to me!

  • Mary

    I am passing this series onto my son. I am blessed that I am gaining a daughter on December 27 and not in May as originally planned. Pray as we prepare for this celebration and for the weather to cooperate since we will be heading to Indiana.

    Have a wonderful Thanksgiving! Blessings and hugs!

    • That’s great, Mary! You truly are blessed to have a new daughter … and in December?! Wow! It’s coming fast! I’m truly enjoying time with my new “daughter-in-love” this holiday. It’s so much fun to expand our family and I’m sure you’re feeling that same joy as your family grows. I will definitely pray that the weather cooperates! I know how important that is to the day! Happy Thanksgiving to you too, sweet friend!

  • Susan

    First time here on your blog! Marriage is pretty messy, isn’t it! Do the linkup’s have to relate to marriage? We’re neighbors at Holley’s today (#36)

    • No, Susan. Just anything that builds us up in marriage AND life. I also prefer that they have a Christian sensibility and appropriateness. You’d be amazed at some of the posts that have been linked that included racy pictures or new age topics, etc. Thanks for asking, but I bet your post would fit perfectly, my friend!

  • Thanks for the shout-out, Beth, and for all the amazing ministry you do here! These steps are so wise. Much of it can be applied in ALL conflict! The processing of emotions first is a big one for me. If I talk before I process, I just cry. Ha! Darn old tears just start and it doesn’t matter who it is. Ugh! Thankfully, I’m pretty good at restraint and can process first so I don’t embarrass myself too often anymore! Have a very wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving!
    Lori

    • Thank you, Lori. And I agree about processing emotions. So many people don’t do this or try to do it in a verbal show-down instead of giving themselves time to reflect. Talk about making matters worse! I’m glad, honestly, that you cry when you open up with your hubby. That tells me you have a soft-heart. I have a hard time letting the tears flow. It’s a bad coping mechanism left-over from my childhood and one I’m still trying to change. Thanks for joining the linkup and encouraging me, my friend. Happy Thanksgiving to you too!

  • Happy Thanksgiving, friend. Enjoy the special times with you son and new daughter. I am thankful that I know you, Beth, and that we had that lovely time at Linda’s to meet face to face. May tomorrow be full of laughter and love and pumpkin pie with lots of whipped cream. Love and hugs across the miles from me to you…xxoo

    • Aww, you are so sweet, Sheila! I am so glad we got to meet face-to-face at Linda’s too. You both are such wise and wonderful bloggy friends. You hold a special place in my heart for sure! I hope that your Thanksgiving is extra special and tell Michael hello from me and Gary! Hugs to you!

  • Thank you for your post and helpful tips. I especially love number 4 – that one is so easy to forget, but often the most important. Enjoy your Thanksgiving!

    • You’re welcome, Mary! It’s so nice to have you in the linkup, my new-found friend! And I agree–number 4 is a real game-changer! When we invite God into the trouble, there’s always greater clarity and love to resolve the conflict. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

  • Communication! It’s so vital to a healthy relationship. Some great suggestions here. Just wanted to thank you for hosting each week and wish you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving!

    • It truly is, Donna. Like I said to Ugochi below, I try to encourage couples to over-communicate. Even though most won’t really do that, the effort to communicate more will help to make up the deficit that is often present. Thanks for your kind words and for joining the conversation. Happy Thanksgiving to you too!

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