Marriage creates one of the most intimate human relationships. With your husband, you share mutual pleasure in companionship, common values and goals, and you understand each other. Right? Unfortunately, for most couples this statement is not always true. Intimate partners are individuals, each with a unique view and way of interpreting the world. Frustrations happen. Whether your frustration is with your husband or with some other person or situation, it takes skill to effectively share your frustration with your husband so he will understand.
Think about your feeling of frustration and identify the specific emotions involved. For instance, if you feel frustrated because your husband left dirty clothes and a wet towel on the bathroom floor again, after you have asked him many times to pick up after himself, think about what this situation really means to you. Is it your sense of order and the desire for tidiness that is frustrated, or is it your husband's apparent lack of concern for your wishes? Once you identify the real cause of your frustration, you will be better able to convey that feeling and your unmet need to your husband.
Use defining words to express the intensity and duration of the feelings identified. For instance, "Since the baby was born, I feel overwhelmed when I have to pick up after you, in addition to taking care of the baby. It seems like I'm a maid." This type of statement expresses your feelings without attacking or blaming your husband, while pointing out his role in your feelings. Using "I" statements and sticking to the facts reduces the likelihood that your husband will become defensive, which for many couples often leads to arguments without resolution.
Add historical context if it helps make your point. If you were an oldest child or only daughter and your parents expected you to pick up after younger siblings or a brother, you may have felt resentment. Help your husband understand the depth of your frustration with a statement such as, "When I was growing up, I always had to pick up after other people who were perfectly capable of picking up after themselves. I felt like they were more important than I was." Self-disclosure helps both you and your husband understand the basic needs behind your frustration.
- Write about your frustrations before you talk to your husband. First, write the main word or words you feel on a sheet of paper. Then, write descriptive words, phrases or anything else that comes to mind regarding this main word. As you perform this activity, you will tap into your right brain - where your feelings are located - to gain a deeper understanding of your feelings. Write until you have nothing left to say. Next, script a statement for your husband, using "I" statements. This advance preparation will help you make yourself understood.
- Getting the Love You Want Workbook: The New Couples' Study Guide; Harvill Hendrix and Helen Hunt
- Couple Skills: Making Your Relationship Work; Matthew McKay et al.
- Writing the Natural Way; Gabriele Lusser Rico
- Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images