"My feelings are not up for evaluation". The first time we heard this, we were at a marriage retreat. Although we had never heard this before, it totally resonated with us and made perfect sense. The fact is that sometimes we feel something that is not logical, or is not the truth. However, in that moment, you don't want to be told you're irrational or unreasonable. That seems to just fuel the flame. Anyone else with us on that? Especially woman, because we are totally illogical at times (especially when we are emotional). We have found that when one of us approaches the other with a heavy heart, feeling hurt or angry or disappointed, etc, if the other one can simply acknowledge the feelings, it seems to be a good start to resolution. In the book For Men Only by Shaunti and Jeff Feldhann, it is worded this way: "When you address my feelings, you solve my problems." Yes! Yes! Yes! That's totally it! (Great book by the way...an oldie but a goodie. We learned so much from For Women Only and For Men Only [Feldhann, 2004] Must reads!)
Please don't misunderstand us. We are not at all saying that you don't have to address the problem as well (and the lack of truth or logic that may be going on). Those things obviously need to be discussed and addressed. However, beginning by acknowledging the feelings first says, "I care more about your heart than I do anything else."
This crazy story about us is a good example of this. About 10 Years ago, we had moved into our new home in our small town. I didn't realize how the transition of living out in the middle of nowhere was affecting me, but I was an exhausted mama of 3, with no friends in town, running on empty...feeling a bit alone and discouraged...okay and maybe a bit unloved. I shared this with Allen before he left for work one day. Good timing, right? Haha. In my mind, the solution was...wait for it...Flowers! Hahaha. Isn't that the solution for any girls' problems? Totally kidding here. I know some women don't like them, but this woman does. In my defense, I really did feel like this would make me feel loved and encouraged and less alone. The thought of it cracks me up even now. But nonetheless, feelings are not up for evaluation, right? (We had not learned that yet but we were about to).
Allen then proceeded to tell me that "Flowers are not in the budget". Whoa! Those were NOT the words my aching heart wanted to hear. Of course at this point, the tears began! Not because I was a spoiled brat but simply because (as I told him), I needed to know that I was more important than the budge. That may sound crazy, but we had been pinching pennies and really working hard to do things right and pay off bills, etc. So there had not been a lot of "splurges" at that time. To his credit, he was totally right! Flowers were definitely not in the budget (the small budget that Allen had done an amazing job with. He always has taken great care of us on 1 income, keeping the bills to a minimum so I can stay home with our 3 amazing kids!).
Anyhow, so as I cried, I proceeded to let him know that I did not give a care about the budget (um...I may have yelled it. Oops). My heart broke into a million pieces as he left for work. Poor guy. He was trying. He is a patient man! So basically, I FELT: unloved, lonely and discouraged. However that was NOT the truth! The TRUTH was that I was (and still am): deeply loved by the most amazing man in the whole world who would give anything for me to know how deep his love his. The fact also was that we were on a very tight budget with zero wiggle room! However, I needed a tangible demonstration of that love he had for me.
It ends well though! So my prince charming had the most magnificent bouquet of flowers sent to me that afternoon with the sweetest note that said, "You're worth blowing the budget for". Awwww. I still smile at the thought of it! I still don't have a clue what he spent on those (and really don't care to know), but my heart felt so ridiculously and abundantly loved in that moment! It was one of the greatest investments in our marriage that he could have made. Plus, in that we learned how important validating each others feelings are. What's wonderful lesson that was for us!
So to wrap up, we just wanted to restate that just because one's feelings may not be logical or truthful doesn't mean they're not valid. Once those feelings are addressed, then the problem can be addressed and you can get to the good stuff faster ..the making up. Heehee
Cheering you on,
ALLEN & CAROL
P.S. Looking for some ways to put the FUN back in your marriage? Check out our post on PLAYING TOGETHER!