Sharing Thoughts and Feelings
by Fr. Peter deSousa
Another practical way of sustaining a healthy and intimate
relationship in marriage is by sharing your thoughts and feelings with your
spouse on a regular basis. In Marriage Encounter, we suggest that couples
devote 20 minutes a day to this. For 10 minutes they write to each other, a
loving letter in which they affirm each other and describe what is the
predominant feeling they have. This is an invitation to enter your world
and share whom you are today. You describe your feeling in such a way that
your spouse can taste you and accompany you at this moment. When the couple
come together and read each other's letter twice (once with the head and the
second time with the heart) they try to be one by listening and sharing.
This 10 +10 minutes a day has brought many couples close together. Try it
for yourself and see the difference.
Many of us are so busy, earning a living and keeping house, that
at the end of the day, we are exhausted. We repress our feelings but they do
not disappear. If we could share them with a loving, understanding spouse,
we would be better able to face life's challenges. We also need to share our
dreams and to be available to listen with our heart, to comfort, console and
strengthen each other. Is not that the reason why you got married? Feelings
are neither right nor wrong in themselves. They indicate to us what is
happening in us. When we share ourselves with an intimate, we are no longer
alone. Repressed feelings are today often the cause of so many psychosomatic
illnesses and escapes into alcohol, drugs or depression. All of us can
program the time if we want to make the time for each other. Jesus made the
time to listen and reach out to many people in trouble and was able to heal
them and bring them to the Father. Today, ours are his ears to listen, his
lips to speak and his arms to comfort those in trouble.
A husband and wife may have many ideas on several topics that
concern their relationship and their home. It is good to share them and to
be enriched by each other's insights and experiences. A male or female
perspective may differ. Be humble enough to learn from each other.
No matter how busy you are, make time for each other. Go for a
small walk together at the end of the day or in the early morning. Hold
hands and be attentive to each other. Give each other small signs of
affection as you did in your courtship days.
Remember it is more important to be lovers after marriage than
before. I remember a couple with 10 children who could not afford to dine
out. But they would sometimes go to a small café and have a cup of coffee
and a small snack together. They would dance to radio music in their own
home. They would delegate the older children to do household chores
sometimes, while they spent some quality time with each other.
Never get used to each other or take each other for granted. A
small love note, a tiny gift, a gesture of affection, a compliment, a kind
word and a loving glance or hug can work wonders to keep romance alive in
your relationship. Pray together, listen to God's word together and attend
Mass together. Make a visit to the Blessed Sacrament chapel as a couple,
even for 5 minutes. Let the Lord bless you and be part of your day. Maybe
your love is losing its strength and needs to be changed from water into
I remember a couple with 7 children who went to mass every
evening. He would return from work and she would rush out to join him. If
the evening meal was not ready, she would leave it to the older children to
finish. They would sometimes bring home a person from Church who appeared
lonely or sad. The kids enjoyed guessing who would be coming to dinner to
share their family love. Sharing their love with those in need strengthened
Respect each other, even when you feel irritated and impatient.
Always be courteous and show each other respect in the way you speak and
treat each other. Politeness because you respect others is a true sign of
Jesus' followers. Be polite because you want to show respect and kindness.
It brings out the best in others whose self image is poor and who need to be
affirmed Kindness can create an atmosphere of warmth and caring. We live in
a world where so many are unnoticed or ignored. Jesus wants us to make
others feel special in our domestic Church.
Do you accept your Spouse and children as God made them or do you
want to change them? A lot of times, there is little or no communication of
ideas and feelings or a show of respect and kindness, because we do not
accept one another in our differences. We think we can do a better job than
God. I am not saying that all of us do not have irritating habits or
behaviour that can make us hard to live with. But I can only change myself
with God's grace, because I want to love my family.
During courtship, many couples turn a blind eye to what they do
not like in their partner. Perhaps each one secretly thinks that after
marriage, the partner will change undesirable behaviour. We cannot remake
our spouse or children in our own image.
Why are you angry and frustrated with behaviour in your spouse or
child that you do not like? Is the source of your anger and frustration,
your own demands or the other's behaviour?
The child who exhibits behaviour patterns that you do not like or
approve of in your spouse will especially irritate you. Very often the other
knows what irritates you but continues because he or she does not want to be
controlled or forced to change. There is an in built resistance to your
demands. Give up your demands. Accept the other unconditionally as God
does. Pray and ask God to change you to be a loving, forgiving and accepting
spouse and parent. God can and does work wonders where there is
unconditional love. For where there is love, there is God.
By all means share your ideas and feelings but with a view to
being transparent and not with a view to changing the other. Otherwise, your
sharing becomes manipulative. Be respectful, kind and polite because you
want to love and respect the other and not because you want to shame the
other or show that you are morally superior or a martyr. The home is a
school of discipleship. Jesus was very patient with his disciples and
respected their slow rate of growth and understanding. He did not give up on
them. Ask him to help you also to be patient with yourself and each other.
Remember He has not finished with you as yet!! Love one another as he loves
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For Better or for Worse copyright © 2004-2005 Fr. Peter deSousa. All rights reserved.