Another Yule gift: express your feelings


12/25/1980 At this time of year many husbands and wives agonize over what gift to give each other for Christmas. Last year I suggested husbands and wives give each other the gift of time by simply allowing time to be together. This year I would like to suggest the gift of sharing thoughts and feelings about each other and marriage.

Not long ago a husband told me the most difficult thing in life for him to do is to tell his wife how he feels about her. And the tragic part is that he has genuinely good feelings about her.

While many married couples have difficulty expressing their sentiments, some find they can do so through writing. And after writing their thoughts and feelings on paper, most find the transition to verbal expression much easier.

William Miller, Ph.D., and Larry Hof, M. Div, have begun an interesting program at Saint Andrew’s United Methodist Church in conjunction with the Marriage Council of Philadelphia. In their program titled “My World of Feelings” they observe, “In a marital relationship, the ability of two individuals to be aware of the whole range of feelings, to express them appropriately, and to accept them in themselves and in each other, can pave the way for increased self-awareness, and for stronger bonds of trust and deeper intimacy. It may make each partner more vulnerable, too. But, perhaps the potential for self-awareness and growth, and for increased trust and intimacy, is worth the risk!”
    Hof and Miller suggest a husband and wife individually write their responses to the following statements:

  •        In our marriage, I am happiest when . .
  •        In our marriage, I am saddest when . . .
  •        In our marriage, I am angriest when. . .
  •        The best thing about our marriage is . . .
  •        I feel most afraid when. . .
  •        I feel loved when you . .
  •        I feel appreciated when you  . . .
  •        My greatest concern/fear for our marriage is  . . .
  •        What I like most about myself is . . .
  •        What I dislike most about myself is . . .
  •        What I like most about you is  . . .
  •        My greatest concern/fear for you is . . .
  •        The feelings that I have the most difficulty sharing with you are . . .
  •        The feelings that I can share most easily with you are . . .

After completing the exercise the husband and wife exchange lists. Then, at a time they can be alone, it is suggested the couple discuss, if possible, in further detail what each said.

Hof and Miller conclude, “If my feelings are to serve me and help make sense of life, I must be aware of them and their heights and depths, and be able to express them appropriately in words and actions. In some way, I pay a great price when I refuse to let my feelings have an appropriate and natural place in my life.”

If you try to this exercise and find it worthwhile, I’d like to hear from you. Several other similar exercises could be included in future columns.

As this column concludes its second year in the Deseret News, Susan and I would like to extend our Seasons Greetings. It is our desire that during the coming year you will find, but more importantly make, your marriage even more meaningful. We have committed ourselves to this and hopefully so will you.

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