Download a PDF from the ‘Focus on feelings’ Resource
Writing My Personal Reflection:
- Write for the full time.
- Distinguish my feelings from my thoughts, using the five guidelines on pages 2 and 3. Then focus on my real feelings and sharing them with my spouse in my written reflection.
- Describe my feelings to my spouse, as fully as possible. See the six ways on pages 4 and 5. Keep my spouse in mind, so I’ll describe my feelings in ways that will help him or her experience what I am feeling.
- Write honestly, but be loving, tender, and considerate. Make my reflection my personal gift to my lover.
Dialogue with My Spouse:
- Exchange notebooks. No comments while doing this, or while reading.
- Read the other’s reflection two times, in silence – once for the head, once for the heart. Don’t correct grammar or spelling.
- Talk about what each of us feels after reading the other’s reflection.
- Select one strong feeling to share and explore. My spouse and I can choose this feeling fromany one of four sources: My written reflection; My spouse’s written reflection; My feelings after reading my spouse’s reflection; or My spouse’s feelings after reading my reflection.
- Explore this one feeling fully. Try to feel my spouse’s feeling, and experience the person behind the words. Ask questions to help my spouse describe the feeling.Examples: Is your energetic feeling like how you feel when we take a walk together? On a scale of 1 to 10, how strong is your frightened feeling? I think you’re saying your excited feeling is like a fireworks display. Am I hearing you correctly?
- Focus on sharing only feelings – no thoughts or judgments. Loving discussion of thoughts and ideas is also helpful, if both of us want to have a loving discussion – but it should wait until after we have fully shared our feelings.
Things to avoid in writing my personal reflection and in our dialogue:
1. Blaming anyone or anything for the way I feel. A feeling is an involuntary response to something. But it is my response. Each person may respond differently to the same situation. So I need to take ownership of my feeling rather than blame someone or something for causing it. This is why we avoid the words “make me feel.” When I am describing my feelings, it is better to use “I” messages. Avoid “you” and “they” statements, which can lead to blaming. Example: “I feel disappointed.” Avoid “You disappoint me.” My example: It is especially important to avoid blaming my spouse for the way I feel. This is a common trap called “garbage dumping.” It is a dangerous form of “make me feel.” Avoid this: You make me feel so angry when you are late. Use something like this: I feel angry when I have to wait for you.
- Analyzing my feeling. In our reflections and dialogue we seek to share and describe feelings. We avoid asking “Why do I feel that way?” Asking “Why?” can lead to blaming. Or it can lead into analyzing my feeling rather than describing it. “Why do you feel that way?” can be a subtle rejection of my spouse’s feeling.
- Trying to solve a problem or reach a decision. Save that for after dialogue, when we may choose to have a loving discussion. If we first share our feelings, we will know each other more deeply, and that will help us solve the problem or make a wise decision.
- Trying to change my spouse.
- Trying to please my spouse by writing or saying only what I think he or she wants to hear.
- Confessingaseriouswrong,suchasdishonestyorunfaithfulness should not be done during our reflection or dialogue. If I need confession, I am encouraged to pray for guidance after this Weekend and to consider consulting a pastor or counselor.