By Dr. David B. Hawkins, Crosswalk.com
Take a moment and reflect on the thoughts you have about your marriage. How would you rate it? Are you satisfied, dissatisfied or even discouraged?
Consider your feelings and thoughts about your mate. Reflect on all the positive thoughts you have about him/her and any issues of concern. Do you feel love for your mate? Do you feel hurt, angry, discouraged?
Now, how many of those thoughts and feelings do you talk about? Does your mate know about your positive feelings about him/ her? Do they know about your feelings of concern?
If you’re like most people, you hold back. You stuff your feelings. You second-guess what you should tell your mate and what you should keep to yourself. Sadly, many share thoughts and feelings reactively, in the spur of the moment, and fail to share their thoughts in a timely and healthy manner.
“I never know exactly what he’s thinking,” one woman shared with me recently in reference to her husband. “He keeps his thoughts and feelings to himself. I feel really disconnected from him.”
“Have you encouraged him to share with you?” I asked.
“I have,” she said. “He says he has nothing important to say to me, but I know he’s got to be thinking something.”
“How about you?” I asked. “Do you share your thoughts and feelings with him?”
“Well,” she paused. “When he won’t share, I don’t feel free to share my thoughts. I guess we both hold back from each other.”
We continued to talk about the importance of creating an open and receptive atmosphere in their marriage where they would share what is on their minds, both positive and negative.
Here are a few additional thoughts to help create more sharing in your marriage.
First, be mindful of your thoughts and feelings. We cannot share what we haven’t considered. We must take time to know our thoughts and feelings, and from that place be able to share more openly. We must become comfortable with our thoughts and feelings;
Second, be intentional about thinking out loud. It is as we practice thinking out loud that we not only know what we are thinking, but what our mate thinks as well. Thinking out loud creates a conversation, and supportive, loving conversations can be very revealing and healing.
Scripture tells us, “Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed” (James 5: 16). As we share more openly, we are able to pray more effectively for each other;
Third, take risks in sharing. We often hold back in an effort to be safe. It can be frightening to be vulnerable with our mate. Yet, connection requires vulnerability, which comes from openness. Be intentional about weaving honesty into your marriage;
Fourth, be receptive to what is shared. Openness can be daunting and feelings may be hurt in this growth process. Still, we must create an atmosphere of sharing, realizing that sharing will only occur when we feel safe. Be intentional about creating safety by appreciating all that is shared;
Finally, celebrate your new connection. Thinking out loud can create new levels of connection. Couples can learn about each other, creating an exciting connection. Certainly, there are risks and sharing must be done with discretion, but openness can create new understandings and opportunities for growth.
Do you consider your marriage to be open and honest? Do you want honesty to be the foundation of your marriage? Practice the above steps and notice the change. If you would like further help to restore brokenness in your marriage, we are here to help. Please send responses to me at [email protected] and read more about The Marriage Recovery Center on our website and learn about our Personal and Marriage Intensives as well as our newly formed Subscription Group, Thrive, for women struggling from emotional abuse.
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