Tonight’s post is part 2 in our series on healing marriages that focuses on my U.N.I.T.E. marriage therapy methodology. You can go to this link to catch the first post which was about Understanding your spouses hurts in case you missed it. These steps 100% build off of each other, so it is important that you have read step one before moving on to tonight’s step. I’ll wait while you read about Understanding your spouses hurts…………..
Tonight, we are going to focus on needing to hear your spouses feelings. I will not sugar coat this for you, this part is very hard for a couple of reasons. First, whenever we hear we have hurt our spouses we immediately want to get defensive. We want to defend ourselves and tell the other person why we did what they say we did. Second, we know that since our spouses have told us this is how they feel and we have hurt them, we are eventually going to have to apologize and that is the last thing humans feel comfortable doing.
But that is EXACTLY what needs to happen. And we will get there soon enough.
For tonight we are going to focus on Needing to Hear Our Spouses Feelings.
So to start, now is the time to take the list you made in the first post and hand it over to your spouse. Before you let them read it though, you need to tell them that you have put a lot of thought into making this list and it is truly only the most important hurts that you have. As well, you need to tell them as they hand you their list that you are willing to read their list with an open mind and an open heart.
I guarantee that you will read things on your spouses list that will surprise you. You may also learn that something you did know about hurt them much worse that you thought it may have. They will be learning the same from your list.
So after you hand your list to your spouse, you both should go into separate rooms and just read the lists to yourself. DO NOT let your emotions get the best of you when you read their list. Also, do not let the lawyer in you come out and get immediately defensive. You should simply read their list with this understanding:
“This list represents how my spouse feels – therefore this is REALITY to them. They would not have written down things that were not real hurts for them, just as I did not. I need to understand this list and their feelings about these hurts, so in order to do that, I am now going to ask them about their feelings around these hurts.”
After you have both read each others lists, you must agree to let about 2 hours pass before you meet together again. Why is this important? Because it will give you both time to process what you have just read. You will go through a lot of emotions for sure and it is best that you do that alone to begin with as this will help you understand what your spouse has been feeling lately.
After the 2 hours pass, come back together into the same room with your lists. Keep your spouses list with you, and they keep yours with them. The man will begin this exercise by doing the following: (I will use the generic names of John and Judy here)
John: Ok Judy, I’m going to start with the top item on your list. I realize that I hurt you when I yelled at you and said that I wish I had married Kim instead of you. You are telling me that this made you feel unloved, betrayed, and fearful. Judy I realize that these are very strong feelings and I want to learn more from you about why you are feeling these feelings. So please tell me about why this made you feel unloved.
Judy: John I felt unloved because now I believe that you truly wish you had never married me in the first place. You have talked about Kim to me in the past in ways that made me feel jealous, such as when you told me that Kim made you feels things no other women ever has, yet I am your wife. So when you said this to me, my heart told me that you would not have said this to me if you truly loved me. That is why I feel unloved.
John: I understand how you could feel that way Judy. Now can you tell me how this made you feel betrayed?
Judy: Sure, so when you said you wish you had married Kim instead of me, I immediately felt like you have not been truthful with me all these years when you tell me you love me. I feel like you have been lying to me about your love for me and that makes me feel betrayed.
John: Ok I understand why that would make you feel betrayed as well Judy. Can you please tell me why this made your feel fearful?
Judy: Well John I feel like you would not have said this if you were not truly thinking about divorcing me and running back to Kim. Generally people do not say things they are not thinking, and if you are thinking about it, I am fearful you will act on it, especially after you yelled this at me.
Ok so now all of the feelings are on the table. It should now be clear to John that his words really cut and hurt Judy badly. But just how badly and deeply does she feel this event affected her? Well let’s now ask her so we can find out:
John: Judy on a scale from 1 – 50, 1 being it didn’t affect me at all, and 50 being this is the worst thing that has ever happened to me, what number would you give to this event as far as how it affected you?
Judy: Well I guess I had not really thought it in this light before. But now that you ask me, I would say that I would give it an 40.
Ok a 40 is pretty high so now John understands that his telling her that he wished he had married Kim instead of her badly affected Judy.
So now let’s ask Judy what she wished would have happened instead?
John: Judy what do you wish would have happened in this situation instead of what happened?
Judy: Well I knew the more we were talking that you were getting upset. What I wished would have happened was that you would have just told me that you were getting upset to the point of being out of control and that you would like to walk away for some time and that we would finish our conversation when you had cooled down.
Makes sense doesn’t it? Now let’s ask her how that would have made her feel?
John: So Judy if I would have told you I was getting so upset and I was going to get out of control and that I felt it would be wise for me to walk away for an hour or so to calm down and that we could finish our discussion later, how would that have made you feel?
Judy: I would have felt like you were being truthful with me and telling me how you were feeling, and that would have made me feel better. You would not have said those mean things to me about Kim either and that would have made me feel loved and wanted and respected.
Alright! Now we are exactly where we need to be! It is crystal clear for John exactly how Judy feels. She also now knows without a doubt that John has heard her tell him how she feels, so she is now feeling heard. John never once tried to defend himself at all. There is no need for that when the object here is to learn how your spouse is feeling. I realize that John is dying to tell Judy why he said what he said, and John will get his chance to talk through that if he wrote down this incident as a hurt on his list.
After all, maybe John said what he did because he was merely reacting to Judy who had just told him, “You are lazy and worthless and I wish I had married Brett instead of you.” I hate to say this friends, but this is a real case that I worked on with a real couple, so before you judge John too harshly, you have to get all the facts and feelings on the table! And we will do that as we go through all the steps in U.N.I.T.E.
That’s it for tonight’s post. We will pick up again tomorrow night with the I in U.N.I.T.E.
I pray that this exercise is helping you see that communication is king when it comes to marriage. You must understand what hurt your spouse and then you must understand how that hurt made them feel and the intensity of the hurt.
Come back tomorrow for the next step in my U.N.I.T.E. marriage therapy methodology.
Pastor Brad Komgenick