But what do you ‘feel’ about it? and Linkup!

Be a Sweet PEA

As a life-coach and especially as a woman who’s always loved to explore the intricacies of feelings, I ask that question {in my title} a lot. That’s because most people tend to answer with what they think about a subject or proceed to tell me what they’ve done with that situation and slip right past the emotions!

3 common ways people tend to deal with their emotions:

  1. Stufferschoose to stuff their feelings whenever they feel a vulnerable or socially unacceptable emotion.
  2. Venterschoose to release their emotions all over whomever’s near in the name of “authenticity”—often using their emotions as weapons.
  3. Retaliatorschoose a more “guerilla warfare” tactic when dealing with their emotions. They hide them from others but then subtly slip them in with “razor edges” in an attempt to manipulate or control.

All of the above are natural tendencies but not healthy. Ironically, we’re often drawn to a mate who practices the opposite characteristics, creating an ongoing power struggle.

4 Healthy Ways to Deal with Our Emotions:

  1. Realize that our emotions matter and that God gave them to us for a purpose. They cannot be buried, because when we try, we bury them “alive!” Then “emotional zombies” begin to haunt us!
  2. Learn to be more aware of them when they occur or soon after they occur.
  3. Learn to express them respectfully to the safe people in our lives—including and especially God! {Remember, confession brings healing! James 5:16}
  4. Evaluate our feelings and seek to understand them more. The best way to start this is to ask God to help you recognize your emotions and help you to understand them.

How can you encourage your spouse to open up and talk about his/her emotions with you?

First of all, don’t try to “fix” your spouse. Don’t make your spouse your “project” but rather encourage and influence them by your example. This also means you need to always be respectful and avoid sharing negative emotions about your spouse—at least in the beginning of this process. You’ll only discourage your spouse from sharing more with you, if s/he feels being open with you opens the door to judgment or blame.

Secondly, work on some of the 4 Healthy Ways to Deal with Our Emotions mentioned above. Choose one or two and start finding ways to improve in this area. For example, if you struggle with being aware of how you feel, ask God to nudge you the next time you have a troubling emotion. If you’re still unsure about what you feel, refer to this list and choose one that’s closest to it. Then you might want to pray, journal and/or share it with a trusted friend.

Thirdly, if your spouse is interested {and ONLY if s/he is interested—no arm twisting!} you could begin a daily practice of what my husband and I lovingly refer to as “P.E.A.” Sometimes we even jokingly say that we “PEA” on each other every day! 😛 The can of peas pictured above is a small visual reminder for us to do this daily.

3 Ways to Connect

  1. P – stands for pray a short prayer together {either silently or out loud with your mate or on your own “for” your marriage}.
  2. E – stands for share an emotion that you had that day with your mate {again, don’t share negative emotions you have about your spouse at this time!}.
  3. A – stands for affirm your spouse! You might even want to ask your spouse, what areas of your life would you like me to notice more and affirm in you? Then do it!

If you take these small steps—given time and consistency—you’ll create the right environment for heartfelt conversations to grow and flourish. I know, because that’s exactly what is growing in my own marriage! {Click here for a printable of “P.E.A.”}

What can you add to my ideas here—that increased your emotional openness and intimacy with your spouse?

 

What would you urge us to “avoid” when trying to encourage “heart-to-heart” conversations in marriage?

 

Thanks to Deborah for commenting on my latest video, which you can find here. This post was my attempt to answer her question. So don’t forget that your comments and questions are very helpful to me and to others!

Joining with my friends at  Works for Me Wednesday, Coffee and ConversationWholehearted WednesdayWhimsical Wednesday,  What You Wish Wednesday, and Essential Fridays.

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  • In my experience, stuffing only leads to spewing. That stuff wants to come out one way or another! I love the “PEA” idea, Beth. Thanks as always for your wisdom!

    • Ah, so you’re a Retaliator! ha! I have moments when I can be any and all of these, Becky. And you’re exactly right about “spewing.” I think emotions are not only like “zombies that haunt us” but like a big beach ball that we’re trying to keep under water. That slippery little sucker won’t stay submerged for long and quickly pops up (spews) on anyone nearby! I hope you give the PEA a try with your hubby and if you do, let me know how it goes!

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  • This is very sound advice Beth. I am a very sensitive person, my husband does not understand why “little” things matter, and why I make a too big of a deal about them. I often regret most of my sensitivity because I think too deeply, and I am wrong most of the time… I am toying with the idea of sharing this with him.

    • I truly feel that creating a culture in our marriages where we are honest with our feelings but respectful with our delivery will produce a depth and connection we never knew was possible when we stayed in our own little emotional worlds, Ugochi. And I also feel like we miss out on how God can heal our emotions in the community of our marriages as well as in the community of fellow-believers. I do hope you try it with your hubby and if you do, let me know how it goes as you create this healthy habit, my friend!

  • PEA is a great idea, and the joke reminded me of something that happened when I introduced Bernard, a big black lab to Sylvia the Pit Bull…he got so happy that, yeah, he lifted his leg on her.

    Like Queen Victoria, she was not amused, and I doubt that Bernard will forget his lesson in Personal Space.

    I do have a recommendation, but it’s going to sound kind of austere because of where I’m coming from. The suggestion is this – let it go, because emotions are like ripples on a pond. Only when the pond is still can it reflect God’s face.

    I’m seriously ill, and my wife is, in some ways, moving on, in the assumption that I’ll be dead soon and she’ll still have a life to live.

    Valid point, but it can cause slights that arise from carelessness or thoughtlessness, slights that can feel very, very personal.

    But the secret is…they don’t really matter. They’ll pass, as all things will pass, and it’s my choice to hold onto them and keep them vibrant.

    Kinda like holding a wolverine to one’s face…after applying BBQ sauce. Not smart.

    It’s not that I don’t have emotions, but I’m beginning to see that they often obstruct appreciation of deeper truths about life, and about the Almighty. They get in my way.

    It’s not only the negative ones that are a problem, either. It’s easy to see how anger can make us concentrate on the temporal, and see the person “who made us angry” as being larger than life and distant from God…and thereby a valid target for retaliation.

    But happiness and fun…they can also focus us “down here”,and make us implicitly believe that a form of true joy can be found in the temporal. A joyous day with our spouse can make us put God aside for the moment.

    There’s nothing inherently wrong with anger, and certainly nothing wrong with joy, but we need to look at them as signposts, or perhaps symptoms that describe a far larger reality.

    Kind of like a layer of paint on a statue.

    • I agree and disagree, Andrew. I totally get why this is the way you’ve chosen in this last season of your life. And there are so many emotional moments that we must learn to let go of. I’ve wanted to do a post on “When Silence Truly is Golden” but I’ve also seen the other side of this issue. I’ve seen couple after couple who don’t know what they feel, don’t know how to articulate what they feel and end up either growing apart or constantly taking a ride on the “Crazy Cycle.” I just think there’s so much we miss out on that God can and wants to use in our relationships to draw us together and to humble our hearts in that kind of vulnerable community. Again, it’s great to have your thoughts here in my comments, my friend! Always a pleasure–a feeling I feel is definitely important to share! 😉

  • We got our book! Thank you so much… we love it.
    And thanks for hosting the link up 🙂

    • Yay! I’m so glad you won it, Stasia and I hope it’s a treasure-trove of ideas for future dates with your man!

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  • I love the acronym P.E.A. Recognizing that all relationships need prayer, emotion and affirmation will be an effective way to nurture and build the relationship. I also need to put it out there that I am a stuffer with my emotions. I have always deferred to this reaction when confronted but am trying to become more real as I gain more life experience. So glad to be here to day. Blessings!

    • I hope you do, Mary. It’s not for the faint of heart, but we have a strong God to protect us as we share our hearts and live in deep community. My natural bent is to be a stuffer, but over the years have learned how to handle and express my emotions more productively. Doesn’t mean I do it well every single time, but when I open up, I see it enriching my relationships and life greatly! Hugs to you, my friend.

  • My name is Nannette and I am a venter! 🙂

    • You are too funny, Nannette! I can be all three types at times, but typically stuff, so you and I would probably be “drawn” to each other! ha! Thanks for being so open, my friend!

  • Wow! You just gave the theme of what I write about! My husband was a “live in your head” kind of a guy: logical, rational, and just plain smart. I was a “peace at any price” stuffer. We both went through an emotional health transformation several years ago and it changed our marriage enormously. We are enjoying a delightful and rewarding ministry of leading others to be in touch with their hearts and more alert and aware of their spouse’s emotions.
    Thank you for the post.

    • Now that you say that, I remember reading the things you’ve written about, Sharon and feeling like we had/have a very similar story. I’m not sure I’d call my husband a “live in your head” kind of guy, but he certainly didn’t know how to handle and express his feelings. He still struggles to know how he feels, but compared to most men, he’s a shining example of self-awareness! ha! 🙂 I’m glad you enjoyed this and am grateful to join arms with you in the effort to encourage folks in their marriages and lives. Hugs to you, my friend!

  • LOVE the PEA idea 🙂 You clever girl!!

    • Aren’t you sweet, Sheila! You’re one of my “sweet peas” out there in bloggy land! Thanks for coming by and making me smile! 🙂

  • Thanks for the good advice and tips, Beth. I tend toward being a “stuffer,” from a family of “stuffers!” It really isn’t a helpful way of dealing with feelings (!), and I’ve tried to move away from it over the years. Sometimes with some success, others times not so much. One thing that is interesting to me is that I often don’t realize for a long time that I’m doing it. Like I’ll suddenly have the realization, “Oh, normal people would talk about this and get it out in the open.” My sisters have mentioned having the same kind of realization.

    • That’s so interesting, Gaye. I think it’s so very common among stuffers too. I never learned how to deal with my emotions in a healthy way when I was growing up. My parents modeled the extremes–one a stuffer and the other a venter. So I naturally adopted one of their styles and have had to rewire my brain, heart and relationships in so many ways because of it. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your interesting tidbit, my friend!

  • Excellent, Beth! I have been working on learning to recognize emotions as they happen. And then voicing them, if I need to. Recently, this led to a good exchange between my husband and I (even though it wasn’t comfortable). Your exercise is essential for those of us who are stifled emotionally. This will help many, Beth. Thanks for being His vessel!!!

    • I’m learning to stretch and strengthen those verbal muscles too, Bonnie. I think I’ll probably be a work in progress till the day I die. But at least I’m making progress and moving forward. An awful lot of people I know are stuck or moving backwards in this area. I’m glad to hear that you’re “finding your voice” and learning to be assertive. It’s a skill that isn’t for the faint of heart or those who give up easily!

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  • I’m a stuffer. Love the idea of being a sweat pea. Makes it easy to remember to pray-emotion sharing-affirm. Thank you, Beth, for making a printable, too. ~Pamela

  • I love this! Great simple reminder! Thanks! 🙂

  • Sigh.

    Beth, your website doesn’t like my Linda@Creekside name. I keep forgetting. And then it eats my post.

    ;-{

    ANYWAY, there’s a certain peace and grace that comes when we stop trying to fix, change, or manipulate our spouses and simply accept who they are. What goes around seems to come around, and they began to embrace who we are and start giving us that deeper sense of connection that we’ve been longing for along the way.

    And that’s when it gets good. Real good.

    ;-}

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