Stop bottling up your emotions in marriage

Speaking up demonstrates care and emotional investment.
Speaking up demonstrates care and emotional investment.
Image: 123RF

There are many reasons why partners choose to bottle up their emotions in silence, opting for fake peace. Many feel dominated as the other spouse is always right and therefore isn’t open to other views.

Being in a relationship with someone who believes they are always right and therefore can't take correction or receive guidance from you is being in a controlling and manipulative relationship. It’s frustrating and disempowering. It's likely that they see themselves as being in a parent-child or teacher-student relationship. Meaning they see you as inexperienced and them as more experienced, and therefore they can't be wrong about anything.

Here are some pointers on how to handle a controlling partner:

• Most controlling people experience anxiety when they feel their power is being challenged. They may or may not be conscious of this, but rather than simply resisting their control, consider acknowledging their anxiety and offer to negotiate.

• If you feel you are in the right, provide them with corresponding data to support your position. If the context is financial, for example, offer the appropriate numbers to prove your point.

• Control your emotions. The more upset or emotional you get with a controller the more irrational they may see you. Offer your point of view calmly and rationally.

• Pick your battles. Don't challenge everything, even when unnecessary. Do not get hung up in a parent/child process. Pick your battles rather than resist for the sake of resisting.

• Part of controlling your emotions also means to be objective. Admit that there are some areas the other person may have proven to be more competent than you. In these areas, they should be allowed more control.

• In acknowledging their anxiety, you may want to provide them with an explanation for their behaviour. For example, controllers may have suffered severe losses in childhood or were forced to cope with incompetent parents, for instance. Gently and respectfully discussing these historical experiences and linking them to a current need for control may lessen this need.

Others choose silence because they’re scared of confrontation, some don’t want to be seen as nagging, while others fear the outcome those exchanges often have.

Many partners stop talking because they fear what might happen after the conversation starts.

What happens if we start talking and can’t work it out? What happens if I ask my partner what’s bothering them and I can’t handle the answer? What happens if I tell my partner what’s bothering me and they don’t care?

Those fears play into why people stay silent. Tell your partner what’s in your heart. State your fears. If you’re worried about what they might say, think, or do, be transparent about that.

You don't keep the peace in marriage by avoiding conflict. Conflict avoidance causes your inner feelings to build and fester, which only makes things worse. In fact, avoiding conflict creates even more conflict. It’s impossible to bottle up emotions without displaying one of the biggest wedge-drivers in a relationship, passive-aggressive behaviour.

Keeping quiet with something eating you up inside puts your relationship at a greater risk of drifting apart with zero interdependence over time. You'll thus be left with a marriage that consists of two parallel lives that don't overlap.

Fear of how your partner might handle confrontation leads to emotional withdrawal. When you withdraw your emotions you divorce yourself from the relationship, and you both become lonely in your marriage, thereby developing separate interests.

Speak the truth in love. Whatever is bothering you in your marriage, it is worth bringing up. How your partner processes it, is not your business as long as you're handling yourself with respect, dignity and express your feelings in love. There may be good reason to disagree, but there is never a reason to be unkind. Stay clear of personal attacks and keep the focus on the issue.

Pull your walls down. If you tell your spouse ways they have wronged you, their natural instinct will be to turn it back to you. They may even present a whole list of past grievances. Stop the cycle right away by accepting it. Don’t defend. Hopefully, they will be mature enough to follow your lead. You don’t have to plead guilty for things outside of your responsibility. Express remorse that they were hurt or offended and leave it there.

Seek to forgive. Nurturing or even letting feelings of anger and negativity towards someone remain is like not treating a venomous snake bite. It will poison your health and relationships. Instead, release them in forgiveness. Don’t let your heart continue to prosecute. It was made for a better purpose.

Speaking up and not bottling stuff up demonstrates care for, and emotional investment in, your marriage. It's a big deal.

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