We all have feelings. In fact, for a lifetime we have had people telling us how we should feel or not feel. It started when I was little: “Larry, you can stop crying now- big boys don’t cry.” Or, if I got caught with my hand in the cookie jar, I could count on hearing, “Larry, you should be ashamed of yourself!” And, later on, if I allowed my feelings to get hurt by someone, invariably I would hear, “Don’t feel bad Larry, I was just kidding.”
Feelings are neither right or wrong
In fifty years of ministry, I have observed many marriages where one partner will be upset or even angry because the other partner feels a certain way, not counting the fact that feelings are neither right or wrong. There is no morality to feelings. Obviously, how we react to our own feelings or another person’s feelings might be right or wrong, but feelings are just feelings, and they may abruptly change within a very short amount of time!
Feelings are so much a part of us, that our feelings are at the heart of good communication. Couples who never talk about each other’s feelings on important issues are headed for trouble. Likewise, couples who do not empathize with each other’s feelings, even though they may not agree with the other’s feelings, are headed for hurt and disappointment in their relationship.
Good communication in our marriage is being able to ask ourselves, “Can I be mature enough and responsible for allowing my spouse to express their feelings simply because that’s the way they feel?” In other words, I must choose to let my spouse express their feelings honestly without a “put-down,” or criticism, or telling them, “you shouldn’t feel that way.” This, of course, requires creating a place of safety. If I am standing by with a bulldozer ready to tell her why she shouldn’t feel the way she does, then the conversation is over! Feelings are neither right or wrong, so even though my wife may feel different than I do, by allowing her to express her feeling without road blocks will not only enhance our relationship but will bring a love bond between us that is absolutely amazing.
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