(Back story) A couple of months ago, Maison and I started on a journey of personal coaching. We did it because we both knew there were things in our lives that were preventing us from being the best possible version of ourselves and, in turn, were impacting our marriage. We knew that if we wanted to grow together, we also had to be growing individually. When we started, I thought that a lot of my fears and anxiety were based around finances and organization. However, as we started going through coaching, I quickly realized that the root of my “issues” was the way I experienced feelings (or lack there of). This began a process of healing that I deeply needed but never knew because of the way I had experienced things up until we started coaching.
For me, feelings were something that I never expressed or, to be honest, just thought that I really didn’t experience. Since getting married, however, I have been faced with the reality that it isn’t very likely that I don’t have feelings. Rather, what is likely more true is that I am choosing to suppress my feelings because suppressing them has been the best option I have seen available to me for so long (for example, due to negative things that happened to me as a child, the easiest option available to me to deal with these circumstances was to suppress/ignore my feelings … and there’s also a bit of a cultural norm as guys don’t really share feelings with each other).
I’m writing this post in hopes that I can share a bit of insight from my journey with those who may be in a similar situation as me or married to someone with a similar situation.
Here are the top three things I have learned so far in my journey:
- As a defense mechanism, my mind initially goes blank when asked to share feelings. I would often find myself trying to express my feelings but looking in, I couldn’t experience anything at all. This was extremely frustrating at first but I found that the best way to push past this was to sit in that reality. First, I accepted that I could choose to get curious about the situation and reflect on what had happened. From there, I could then begin to describe the situation to myself or Maison and that would help me put together how I was feeling. I also initially was trying to feel positive feelings only and it wasn’t until I realized that I was still repressing my negative feelings that I could begin to be honest with myself about my experiences and begin to feel genuine positive feelings.
- I failed at experiencing feelings far more times than I succeeded. Initially I was very frustrated with my progress and I was easy to resort back to thinking that I just wasn’t able to feel things. One of the things that helped me the most was a simple chart of emotions. It allowed me to look at a list of emotions and associated faces and from that I could begin to better understand my own feelings. Because this seemed like such a simple thing in my mind, I expected to see huge results quickly. When this didn’t happen, I got a bit discouraged. I had to begin to reflect on my decisions daily and choose to go at it again the next day.
- It would have been really easy to give up so many times in this journey, but having Maison keep me accountable while being understanding was imperative to the success I’ve experienced. We went into this season hopeful that I could better communicate my feelings so that we could grow in our marriage. When that didn’t happen initially, Maison continued to pursue my growth and now we are getting to experience the benefits of deeper conversations. It was very uncomfortable at first, however, Maison sat with me in that discomfort and chose to not get frustrated with me for my inability to express my feelings. It has been a journey of learning for her as well, but now she is able to ask me better questions that help me to process through some of the possibilities of my emotions. We aren’t perfect and this initially caused us pain in our relationship, but when we got honest with ourselves about the reality of our current situation(s), we were able to be in the discomfort together and uncover that, if we choose to believe the best about each other first and foremost, growth was far more likely.
Anyway, thanks for reading through this novel! Sharing my feelings and experiences around this journey are something that I hope can reach someone. I am always happy to talk further about this process or explain things in more detail/differently if you have any questions! I am still failing as much as (if not more) than I’m succeeding, but knowing that I am making progress has brought me so much joy. It was truly when I was able to admit to myself that I needed help with something that seemed so simple that I was able to begin the process of curiosity and growth.
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