One of the practices that we do every day to connect at the heart level is to check in with each other. Checking in with each other is a way to talk about all the things that are going on “out there” so that we can create “We-ness” together. It is also a way for us to be clear about our own emotions and not cloud them with issues with our spouse.
When a spouse returns from work and has a scowl on their face, what you do think their spouse thinks about what is going on? Usually they think that the scowling spouse is upset with them in some way. And they might be, but most of the time that assumption is wrong. One of the good things that happens when we check in with each other is that we learn what that emotion is about, and usually, that it is not about us.
You may have returned home one day after a very bad day at work and when your spouse asked about your day, you barked at them. That is something that happens with all couples. Anger or hurt about things at work get transferred and communicated, intentionally or intentionally, toward your spouse. You end up hurting the very person whom God put in your life to help you.
The Daily Check In is a way you can become aware of and communicate what is going on in your head and heart in a way that your spouse can support you and understand you.
Check In With Yourself First
Become Aware – One of the most important things you can do is to begin to become more aware of how you are moving away from your spouse, intentionally or unintentionally. Your awareness is strengthened as you learn to check in with yourself and check in with your spouse.
We believe emotions are a gift from God. They are apart of how God made us. When we don’t identify and express emotions clearly and directly, we call it “stuffing” our emotions. The do not go away, rather simply become more intense over time as we choose to not be aware of them. Eventually they come out, sometimes in explosive episodes of emotional outbursts that we feel like we cannot control, sometimes we turn them toward ourselves and “beat” ourselves up internally, while other times they come out sideways and causing collateral damage to innocent bystanders.
Some people self medicate their emotions in an attempt to make them go away. Eating, workaholism, alcohol abuse, sexual acting out, over exercising, prescription or illicit drug use, frequent significant sleeping periods, and other things that keep you from experiencing your feelings are some of the many ways that you might be self medicating your emotions.
Assess Your Emotions – One of the best ways to discover how you are feeling at any given moment is to check in with what your body is telling you. Emotions show up in different places in our bodies. Closing your eyes and taking several deep, slow breaths will help you begin to notice if you feel any tightness, tingling, burning or other sensations anywhere in your body.
- Do you notice it in your abdomen or stomach ? – Perhaps you are feeling some form of fear. Might there be something that you are worried or scared about in this moment?
- Do you notice it in your chest or throat? – Perhaps you are feeling some form of sadness. Is there anywhere in your consciousness where you have experienced the loss of a job, dream, friend, hobby, etc. that you might be carrying sadness for?
- Do you notice anything in your shoulders, jaw, back of neck, or extremities? Perhaps you are feeling some form of anger. Is there something that is blocking you from achieving a goal and you are frustrated or angry about it?
- Notice All Emotions – You can be simultaneously feeling sad, angry, scared and happy at the same time. Most of the time these emotions are about different things but sometimes they are about the same thing. For instance, you might say, “I just found out we are pregnant. I’m so happy to bring a new baby into the world. I’m scared to death because I don’t know if I’m ready to be a parent. I’m angry because I thought we would have more time as a couple before we actually got pregnant. I notice some sadness because I’m not sure how it will impact our financial and career plans and what we will do about the future we had planned out so well.”
Name Your Emotions – Knowing and owning your emotions has been shown to improve physical and mental health. Healthy people know what they are feeling. There is actually a term for people who can’t name their emotions. Alexithymia is an unhealthy condition which literally means an inability to identify and name your emotions. Here is a way to become more emotionally intelligent. Name your emotions with these core emotions definitions:
- Sad – A feeling of loss of connection to some one, career, dream, hobby, etc.
- Angry – A feeling of being blocked in some way from something that you want.
- Scared – A response to some kind of real or perceived threat or danger.
- Happy – A feeling of joy and gladness. A sense of wellbeing.
- Excited – A feeling of eagerness, anticipation, expectancy, and hopefulness about the future.
- Tender – Feeling one of the other emotions with someone else. Caring and connectedness with others. Compassion for another.
The more aware you are of your emotions the more you will be aware of the ways you are interacting with your spouse.
Take Turns Sharing Your Emotions With Your Spouse
The Daily Check In creates “We-ness” and develops to deeper emotional connection, which is a necessary element to increased passion in your marriage.
- Offer to go first. Share your emotions and why you think you are feeling the emotions you are feeling.
- Ask your spouse to check in. Accept their right to their feelings. Offer support for how they are feeling.
- Do not try to fix your spouse’s issue. Just listen and let your spouse know you are getting what they are expressing about how they feel.
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This article was written by Roy and Devra Wooten, authors of “The Secret to a Lifetime Love”. Learn more at www.LifeTogetherForever.com © Roy and Devra Wooten 2017. All Rights Reserved. You may replicate this article as long as it is provided free to recipients and includes appropriate attribution. Written permission for other use may be obtained at Secret@LifeTogetherForever.com.