The Problem:

If I were what I should be in our relationship, I would never be tired, forgetful, afraid, weak… but I am. Therefore, I feel inadequate. I must hide my feelings so you won’t find out how inadequate I really am … I live a lie, and I resent it.

The Solution:

All of us have times when we feel bad. Hiding our feelings from each other keeps us strangers and actually creates distance between us. The distance then makes us feel unloved and unlovable, which builds feelings of being inadequate.

Sharing feelings brings us closer. Sharing your feelings with your partner helps your partner to be able to confide their own feelings, too. Discover and learn ways of sharing those feelings in a non-blaming way – neither blaming your partner or yourself. Sitting quietly together and using “I” sentences, speak from your heart. For instance, you might say, “I notice recently that I don’t feel as productive at work as I’d like. It’s frustrating, and I don’t think things will change until the new person comes on board next month in my division. But I think you’re probably sensing I’m a bit stressed, and I just wanted to let you know what’s going on.”

Sharing doubts, frustrations, even if you are feeling a little unsure or weak, can be very connecting – IF the listening partner just listens with empathy and doesn’t jump in with lots of “fixes” and suggestions and comments. When we open up and share a vulnerability, hearing a “fix it” from our partner only heightens our feelings of inadequacy, even though that isn’t their intent. An empathetic hug or asking – “Anything I can do?” is much more connecting and will make you both feel better.  

[This month’s PAIRS Quick Tips concept is drawn from the book, Love Knots, written by PAIRS creator, Dr. Lori Gordon.]

“Before I just wanted out…PAIRS definitely helped save our marriage.” Jo K., NC