We’re so very thankful to have Dr. Gary Chapman share his wisdom with HomeLife readers! Here are a few more of his tips for developing rich communication in your marriage (“Sweet Talk,” March 2013):
Emotions are a natural part of life. All feelings have their place in our lives, and many of them communicate a lot about us. Most of our feelings are tied to some experience we had in our past or something we are going through now. The next time you feel disappointed, ask yourself, “What stimulated my disappointment?” Then try to share that specifically with your spouse. Revealing your feelings lets your spouse know what is going on inside of you—what you are feeling and why. For example, you might say, “I’m feeling angry with myself because I came home late last night and we missed our dinner reservations.” Such a statement may encourage your mate to say, “I’m disappointed too. Maybe we can do it Thursday.” Revealing your feelings creates an atmosphere of intimacy and trust.
Conversely, when your spouse shares his or her feelings, don’t respond with condemnation. If you say, “Well, that’s nothing to be disappointed about. You shouldn’t let that bother you,” you have become a preacher, not a loving listener. Saying, “I can see how that would be disappointing. Tell me more about it,” encourages openness.
Not only do we need to share our thoughts and feeling, we also need to share our desires. Expressing your desires in terms of “I want …, I wish …, I hope …, or I would like …” gives your spouse valuable information instead of making demands. If you express the desire for a new dress for the party, then perhaps your spouse will desire to make it happen. If he doesn’t know this desire, he is not likely to come up with the idea himself. I’m not suggesting that we do everything our spouse requests. But, sharing our desires makes it possible to have a meaningful response. Incidentally, helping fulfill the desires of your spouse is one way of expressing your love.