Feelings are hard to get out because we've been trained to think, rather than feel.
It takes patience and gentle questioning on the part of the spouse to help the partner discover feelings. Don't be discouraged. It may take months of daily dialogue before we begin to recognize the difference between thinking and feeling.
Suggestions for describing feelings
- Describe the feeling from experience - the children, a baseball game, etc.
- Recognize the difference in male and female viewpoints.
- Realize that men usually write less, women write more.
- "Why" does not describe a feeling. It explains the circumstance that causes the feeling. "I feel good because..." is not a description, it's an explanation. "I feel as good as the time you brought me flowers" is a description.
- Sometimes you can identify a feeling by relating the sensation to a particular part of the body, i.e., gut feelings felt in the stomach (nausea, that butterfly feeling): an ache in the throat with longing; pounding heart with fright.
I THINK vs. I FEEL RULE
If you can substitute "I am" for "I feel", you have expressed a feeling. If you can substitute "I think" for "I feel", you have expressed a thought or a judgment.
How to rate the feeling
Rate the feeling from 1 to 10
"My feeling is a '10' "
Sour, sweet, bitter, etc.
"I feel bitter, like a sour lemon"
Scratchy, soft, prickly, etc.
"It has a softness like silk"
Red, blue, etc.
"My anger is red hot"
High pitched, screech, wail of a siren, crack of thunder.
"It was like the singing birds on a spring morning"
Sick, chilled, giggling, etc.
"It was like an upset stomach"
Similar past experience
Childbirth, riding a bike, etc.
"It was like the time our child took her first steps."
Beautiful sunset, crashing waves, still forest.
"It has all the colors of a sunset at sea"
Hitting a home run.
"I feel gleeful, like a kid who hit his first home run."