Expressing feelings in relationships doesn’t come naturally to everyone. Maybe you struggle with expressing your feelings in a relationship. Or perhaps you have a partner who has trouble expressing their feelings.
I bet many of us have suffered when we have tried to get our partners to open up about their feelings. I hear this situation often when I meet a new couple during a counseling session.
It usually starts out with the female saying, “He doesn’t like to share his feelings and I don’t know what is happening to him.” And sometimes it can be the opposite where the male says, “I never know what she is thinking. She doesn’t share with me.” It even happens in same sex couples, so you know this is a problem with all genders.
Expressing Feelings in Relationships is a Skill That Takes Practice
And it is a problem. One person in the relationship is comfortable with telling their partner how they feel about everything. That would be me in the relationship. And then we partner with someone who isn’t used to expressing feelings. As I did. It is so frustrating. I know.
So, what do we do about it? Well the first thing I want to share is that we really can’t change the way someone is wired. If someone has spent their entire life not communicating their feelings it’s doubtful they will begin just because you want them to.
Our Tendency and Ability to Express Feelings Comes From Past Experience
There are lots of reasons why people don’t share their feelings. Maybe in their family home, when they were small, they were told not to have or express feelings. Maybe their parents modeled that they should act as if everything is always okay. There could be many, many reasons why people are the way they are. So, this is the first thing I like to help people understand.
We are all formed from long ago and we come into the relationship with the skills we learned. They may not be the same skills that you learned, but that’s what your partner has. So, if you love him or her you will learn to work with the person you love and the way they came to you.
Be Patient and Understanding When Your Partner Struggles with Expressing Their Feelings
But I know we can’t always be understanding and accepting of someone’s inability to share what’s inside them. Sometimes we just want them to emote some type of feeling. Our souls, the way expressers are wired, needs it. That’s how we, the ones who share, feel alive and connected when someone tells us how they feel.
So, it is a balancing act between you and your partner. You give a little because you understand that your partner is unable to share. Your partner gives more because you need to feel connected to them.
If Your Partner Struggles with Expressing Their Feelings, Be Patient and Ask Them Specific Questions
This is where we meet in the middle. We both give a little of ourselves in the relationship. And that works. It does. I live it. I know my husband feels a lot. He just didn’t grow up expressing what he feels. That’s all.
If I am curious, I ask. I ask how he feels about such and such, but he usually doesn’t know what he feels. So, I have learned that if I ask what he thinks about such and such, then I get his thoughts. And when I am patient enough, those thoughts take me places I cannot even imagine. And that’s pretty wonderful.
Get a Helping Hand with Expressing Feelings in Relationships
Read a Book About Relationships
Get a helping hand with exploring and expressing feelings in your relationship, by reading Linda’s book Safe. Happy. Loved. Simple Skills for Your Relationship. It just might help you communicate and connect in deeper, more satisfying ways, so you can get the most out of your relationship. Give it a read.
Get Couples Counseling
Come in for couples counseling. Couples counseling can help you and your loved one get the most out of your relationship. It'll equip you with coping strategies and tools for communication that can help you argue less and love more.