This guest article from YourTango was written by Teresa Maples.
Many women and men dismiss bits of information about their partner that turn out to be warning signs for future trouble. These subtle feelings are actually your gut telling you to pay attention to something.
During the early phase of marriage, most people want to see the good in their spouse. Overall, I think this is a good strategy. However, it is also important and healthy to be able to trust your gut when you feel there is a problem in your relationship and address it with your spouse.
Trusting your gut involves some basic skills, so let’s look at four tips that may help improve the chances of your marriage thriving.
1. Awareness of your body sensations — What is your gut telling you?
This involves paying attention to your heartbeat rate, pain in your heart, tightness in your chest, weight on your shoulders, intestinal distress and other sensations as indicators to pay attention to your feelings.
For example, early in my marriage, I overlooked my gut feelings. I did not have words for them. My husband would talk a lot, tell stories and generally be entertaining. This is a great quality about him; anyone would say he is a great story teller. At the time, I saw his story telling as a positive since I was relieved from my responsibility to communicate, due to my shyness and insecurity. I actually pushed my body sensations aside and did not pay attention to them.
It worked for me at the time. However over time, my body sensations began to emerge as tightness in my throat, pressure in my chest and pain in my heart. I knew then there was something wrong. I then had to find words for the bodily sensations I felt. I developed a deep resentment towards him and didn’t know why.
2. Vocabulary to identify subtle feelings.
Once you have identified your bodily sensation, you can begin to identify the feeling associated with it. Most people will identify with feelings of sad, mad or glad. But there are deeper feelings which fuel these basic catagories of feelings. Some of these deeper feelings can be fear of rejection, fear of loneliness or fear of abandonment.
I had to learn to accept my sad and mad feelings. Then after digging deeper, I found that I felt cast aside, rejected and abandoned by my husband when he told his stories. He would be the center of attention and I would be in a pity party with myself.
3. Courage to communicate your feelings to your partner.
Talking about deep feelings is a courageous act. When we risk exposing ourselves in a deep way we risk being hurt by the other person. Ultimately we have to decide if it is worth the risk of being exposed and connected fully and authentically with another person. Hiding parts of who we are out of fear leaves us disconnected and not really known.
Once I identified my deep feelings, I had to take responsibility for myself and be more assertive. I needed to communicate and share who I was with my husband and with other people. I knew that if I wanted to be known by him I had to be willing to work through any reaction he might display. I had to have courage to risk his disapproval or rejection if he reacted to my deep feelings. Actually, by the time I did share my feelings with him, I was determined to be known regardless the cost.
4. Problem solving skills to address the situation with your partner for a win-win outcome.
Sometimes when you change a behavior in a relationship it is confusing to your partner. Through couples counseling you can learn new ways of relating to each other that work better for both of you. Helping your partner to thrive will improve your satisfaction in the relationship.
My husband and I learned to resolve differences with help. I learned to take care of my social needs and he learned to allow space for others to tell their stories too. My husband’s determination to find a win-win solution helped us grow closer together.
Always remember relationships are messy — there is no way around that fact. Negotiating the intimate details of our lives is risky. Every person has gut feelings. Working through these feelings is what makes for a healthy marriage or couple-ship.
If you would like more information to make your Couple-ship Thrive please sign up for my newsletter. You may also connect with me on my website Teresa Maples LMHC, CSAT and on twitter.
More marriage advice from YourTango Experts:
- 25 Secrets To A Loving, Lasting Marriage
- The 5 Worst Bits Of Marriage Advice We Happily Ignore
- Advice: 9 Things I Wish I’d Known Before Marriage