By Katie & Gay Hendricks
When you are angry at your partner, what is your most likely response? Do you:
Tell him immediately how you feel, no matter where you are and what you are doing… Or do you push aside the feeling and hope that it passes?
Be honest now. Do you fess up to your anger with your partner 100% of the time?
Because if you are like 90% of the individuals and couples we’ve worked with, then you chose the second option. Most people, when they are dealing with an uncomfortable, “ugly” feeling, do not tell their partner.
They may choose instead to ignore it because they are scared of how their partner will respond.
Or they don’t even know they’re feeling it, because they’ve internalized these feelings as being “bad” and “wrong” and subsequently “not really happening.”
Ask yourself honestly, which do you do? And how often?
If you answered the question honestly, we bet that you realized you don’t always share your difficult emotions with your partner. Even if you do it some of the time, you don’t do it all of the time.
Now take a moment to consider this important question:
What happens to these unexpressed emotions? Do they fade away like you hoped? Do they get replaced with feelings of closeness when something good happens? Are you able to reason them out of existence?
Or – do they come out anyway, in ways you didn’t foresee and can’t control – like a weepy comment, a needy hug, a cold shoulder, a slammed door?
And how you express them makes all the difference in building an intimate, supportive, honest connection, or an escalating series of fights, passive aggressive encounters, or distant relations.
They end up being far more powerful – and more damaging – when they go unsaid than they do if you share them intentionally.
The truth is, no one hides anything.
Even when we try to hide our feelings from ourselves (which is just as common as trying to hide them from someone else), they come out through headaches, stomach trouble or tears.
But here’s the most important thing about trying to hide our emotions…
Even when we try to hide our feelings from ourselves, they come out through headaches, stomach trouble or tears.
When we try to fool ourselves or others that we don’t have them, we end up spending more energy, anxiety or pain trying to manage them than we would if we honestly acknowledged and expressed them.
It takes 10 seconds to be honest, but most of the time, we spend days, weeks, months and sometimes even years denying, judging and obscuring our emotions.
Even better – when we are honest, we release all the energy being devoted to emotional control, and can instead direct that energy to creating a great relationship.
In addition to freeing up all of your energy to create the relationship you want, sharing your emotions is also the most powerful way to open the flow of intimacy between you and your partner.
When you share your feelings – even the difficult ones – you let him into your heart, and give him permission to share how he’s feeling. He gets to experience the real you, rather than all the filters you’ve been putting up.
Now you can focus your attention on what’s really happening between you, instead of fighting, presuming or misinterpreting.
And you feel more trust and appreciation because you’ve shared a difficult truth. You feel close because you realize your emotions are safe with him.
This works if you are in a relationship, or single and looking for love. Only by knowing your own heart can you know someone else’s. And only by sharing your heart can you build trust and appreciation between you.
Now that we understand why emotional transparency is so important, how do we do it?
Our emotions are there, constantly humming beneath the surface. How do we know what they are (especially since we’ve learned to ignore them for so long!) and how do we share them so our partner can really hear and welcome them into his life?
Emotional transparency is the bulldozer that breaks through the metaphorical wall between you and your partner.
When you have it, you experience a closeness and ease that you can’t even imagine.
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