Many people have difficulty identifying and expressing their feelings. Men, in particular, seem to have difficulty expressing feelings of sadness. Often, their sadness or anxiety seems to come out as anger. People may fear their emotions are a sign of weakness or they might think they are exaggerating a problem. Other people don’t take the time to evaluate their feelings prior to reacting. Not sharing feelings can cause resentment and angry outbursts.
When discussing a problem, it is important to be able to label the feelings you experience when this problem occurs. It is okay to experience feelings, whatever those feelings might be, and there is no need to feel ashamed or embarrassed by them. If you are experiencing negative emotions about a situation, it might be a signal that something needs to change.
Using “I” statements helps people take responsibility for their feelings and does not place any blame on the other person. In contrast, “you” statements tend to cause the other person to become defensive and feel blamed. For example, if a wife states to her husband, “you never help out around the house. You always just sit and watch television and don’t care that I do everything,” it is likely to cause a defensive reaction from her husband. Instead, she could say, “I feel really overwhelmed with the housework lately. I’m having difficulty keeping up with the chores,” and then go on to invite her husband to engage in problem-solving about how they can get things done together.
Using “I” statements invites the other person to collaborate and tackle a problem as part of a team. It shares feelings and can help the other person begin to understand more about what his partner is experiencing. Having an open discussion about feelings can be helpful in creating intimacy within the marriage as well.