Do you express or, suppress your feelings? How one feels about their feelings and what they do with them can have either a positive or negative effect on their marriage.
I had a conversation over the weekend with a friend and this subject came up. We talked about how our exes were convinced we were “crazy.” Both husbands had been taught, as children, to suppress their feelings, whereas she and I had been taught to express our feelings reasonably. I can clearly see how someone who suppresses feelings would view someone who expresses them as looney tunes. I can see it, but I can’t condone it.
Do You Express or Suppress Your Feelings?
It is far healthier to express feelings that to suppress feelings. When you marry someone who was taught, as a child, those bad feelings are a sign of weakness, that anger is scary, and expressing feelings is harmful and can lead to them losing control of their feelings, it’s easy to understand them labeling someone who deals with feelings differently as “crazy.”
Below are ways people who have learned to suppress their feelings protect themselves.
- They don’t put a lot of thought into their own emotional state. They go through life on autopilot!
- They view people who express feelings as being “out of control.” This could be the reason so many men label an ex as “Borderline Personality Disordered.”
- They ignore negative feelings and “move on.” In other words, they don’t deal with or attempt to solve the issue that is causing negative feelings.
- They view people who express their feelings as “acting out.” People who are trying to get their way and not people who are simply talking about their feelings and trying to solve a problem.
- They ignore or pay little attention to people who are sad or angry. Doing so can cause a spouse to feel rejected, dismissed, or disliked.
- They do whatever they have to do to keep from feeling negative feelings. This can be giving in to a spouse or completely ignoring their emotional needs to keep from having to deal with an upset or angry spouse.
Suppressing Feelings Affect Marriage?
Suppressing feelings can cause a spouse to feel rejected and their feelings dismissed. Suppressing feelings interferes with a couple working through daily life stresses and, even worse, major issues and problems that come up in a marriage.
If you are married to someone who suppresses their feelings and ignores your feelings, it only makes sense that you won’t feel like your spouse is an ally that is as invested in the marriage as you are. This leaves the spouse who is open and honest about their feelings feeling alone and lonely.
I’ll give you an example from my own marriage. There was an aspect of the marriage that caused me tremendous pain. My ex spent years ignoring me when I expressed the pain his actions caused. I eventually told him we needed to seek therapy. We made an appointment, and he showed up and lasted about 10 minutes in the therapy session before walking out.
The moment the therapist said, “Can you try to listen to her and see the problem from her perspective,” my ex walked out of the session. Marital therapy would have only worked in our situation if the experience had been similar to a fun day at the beach or a trip to Disney World. Since it wasn’t, there was eventually a divorce because my emotions suppressing ex didn’t feel that saving the marriage was worth him facing and working through his fear of negative emotions.
How Do Expressing Feelings Affect Marriage?
Expressing negative feelings within reason is good for a marriage. Getting feelings out on the table gives both spouses the opportunity to address the issues and find solutions. It goes without saying that those who feel comfortable expressing their feelings are more likely to succeed in marriage.
But, when is it a bad thing to express negative feelings?
- If nothing makes a person happy, they are a chronic complainer who constantly whines they will soon find their spouse withdrawing out of self-preservation.
- Finding something wrong with EVERYTHING a spouse does, being hyper-vigilant and defensive is an unattractive trait. That isn’t “expressing feelings” in an attempt to be heard; this is being downright mean. Mean destroys marriages!
- Expressing your feelings by using offensive language or in a loud voice is verbal abuse. You may have a negative feeling about an issue in the marriage, you also have a responsibility to voice that feeling in a respectful manner.
Suppressing feelings may cause a spouse to feel detached emotionally, dismissed, and unimportant in the marriage. Expressing feelings can cause a spouse to feel flooded or overwhelmed by negativity if their spouse expresses their feelings inappropriately. Yes, suppression is more detrimental to marriage, but an obsessive expression of negative feelings can be just as damaging.
The trick is to find a healthy balance, one in which both spouses are heard, and all feelings are validated.