How Do You Feel?

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What can you and your spouse do today to better communicate your feelings to one another?

Should you not also have had mercy on your (brother], even as I had mercy on you? Matthew 18:33, NASB

Everyone expresses emotion. Some share their feelings openly, while others hide them. Some seem overly sensitive, while others are unsure of what they feel. Different people often express the same emotion in greatly different ways. Some might express feelings of loneliness by withdrawing in sadness, while others might express those feelings through endless conversation.

A major ingredient in relational closeness is the open and constructive expression of emotion. A first step in learning to express emotion to your spouse is to develop an emotional vocabulary. That means putting names to the different emotions we enjoy or endure. In order to establish emotional sharing within marriages, we encourage couples to take turns naming as many emotions as they can.

Why is it important to identify emotions? One reason is that many emotions define for us major emotional needs. For example, very often a person might identify anger as a felt emotion, when in reality this anger might be the sum of feeling unappreciated, rejected, and misunderstood. Feeling unappreciated means we need appreciation, feeling rejected means we need acceptance, and feeling misunderstood means we need understanding.

We need a divine intervention of mercy to empower us in this vul­nerable heart-to-heart sharing. Mercy makes our hearts tender toward the needs, emotions, and even failures of another. Mercy allows couples to communicate with one another about their emotions and to act appropri­ately toward them.

More importantly, as today's Scripture reminds us, God has given each of us a great portion of mercy, and He is very serious in his expectation that we share that mercy.

What can you and your spouse do today to better communicate your feelings to one another?

Father, through Your mercy let me be aware that my spouse often feels pain.

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