This week my guest on By His Grace is Michelle Hammer. Michelle wears many hats wife, mom, grandma, Pastoral Counselor, and Psychotherapist. Michelle is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor, Board Certified Clinical Supervisor, Certified Pastoral Counselor, Author, and Motivational Speaker. On the podcast, we discuss martial challenges and Michelle is here on the blog today to offer some biblical insight into a common martial struggle. Please welcome Michelle Hammer. – Listen to the podcast here –>
by Michelle Hammer
Today’s post is about to get real. I have permission from my lovely hubby to put our core struggle out there. It’s a struggle I see all the time in my practice with couples. I know the struggle is real. It’s also one of the main reasons emotional affairs happen unintentionally or intentionally.
Emotional disconnect can happen for oodles of reasons. Illness, busyness, misunderstandings, life stressors, raising kids, not taking time to share feelings, not knowing how to share feelings in positive ways, childhood wounds and many, many other day to day experiences called life.
I know it happens because it’s recently creeped into my and hubby’s day to day.
Not by our design or will but by the sheer force of the trials of this life. It isn’t an easy battle to face.
For my hubby and I, the battle has been LACK OF TIME. He took on an “unintended” commitment for a wonderful cause last year. He said he kept hearing GOD say, You must become less, I must become more.” Powerful, huh? I actually told him, “Who am I to stand in the way of God!”
Let me give the back story.
We are currently building a retreat center where people can find solace, respite, relaxation, recreation and some good, old-fashioned, clean fun. During our transition to this new space, my hubby would be out of a space to work so to speak. So, he decided to do something with his passion for food, in the meanwhile. He applied for a sous chef position. Not just any sous chef position; but, teaching homeless persons food service skills so they can find employment.
This position is in an actual bistro in the heart of downtown Annapolis where our retreat center is being built. He felt it would be great to both continue teaching, work with persons in need, help others find a better quality of life, and keep an eye on our building project. Of course, he was right!
The only problem is, as usual, life happened. He was only there three days when the GM resigned and the Executive Chef of the entire restaurant was promoted. As my hubby has been an Executive Chef many times in the past, of course, they would offer the position to him. Hubby being hubby, his word from the Lord, and people in need led him to say yes, for one year. Boy, what a year this has been.
Now, back to our blog. 🙂
He has been working so much that when he is off, he is exhausted, wiped out, with little left to give. Me, on the other hand, I’m right where we left off when he took the commitment and anticipating his return to our shared business and ministry.
This isn’t said to blame him: however, as this now year and three months comes to a close that’s exactly what I unintentionally did to him the other day.
I was talking to him from a place of passion about our relationship in what I thought was a sharing of tender feelings sort of moment. For him though, it was a moment of hurt and feeling blamed. As we hashed this out, I realized my approach had been poor. Instead of sharing feelings of frustration and missing him, I was sharing my perspective in a way that was not cool. (Use your imagination) He returned the favor with some defensiveness (Use your imagination again) and ‘wala‘, the intent of the talk went south.
That’s what this post is about. Because GOD is so good, and Hubby and I love each other fervently, we (eventually)worked it out and came up with a solution to our unmet emotional needs. After this conflict I got to thinking, some people aren’t so lucky. They don’t have the resources I have at my fingertips. So, that’s what this post is about.
Finally, you say. We hear what this post is about!
If you want to feel close to your partner and there’s been a disconnect for any reason, here’s a quick formula for successfully sharing feelings:
1. Pray before you say……Anything!
2. Pick a time that’s good for you both.
3. Follow this validation process:
Partner A- State emotion, the reason why and request for change
Say, “I feel ________when you________. I really need_________.”
Partner B- Clarify what you’ve heard
Say, “What I hear you saying is________
Partner A- Restate your position
Say, “That’s exactly how I feel and what I need” OR
repeat Step A until your partner hears clearly what you’ve said.
Partner B- Offer understanding
Say, “I understand how you feel and what you need.” Then state the feeling and need.
Partner A- Affirm partner B for getting it
Say, “It feels so good to be understood.” or some other nice affirmation
Partner A and B- Brainstorm Solutions Together.
Partner B and A- Do it over again in opposite roles.
Okay, okay, okay. This may sound elementary; however, when there’s hurt, anger, misunderstanding etc., words start flying and emotions get heightened or the opposite, people stonewall and shut down or fly off the handle and leave the scene. Instead of feeling closer, each person feels more misunderstood. Where the intent is to share feelings instead, conflict ensues.
By keeping it simple, the focus remains on the shared emotions. By sticking to the formula, it ensures each partner is heard. Otherwise, before the feelings are expressed and understood, conflict erupts and divides the partners. With this formula, conflict creates the beauty it intends. To bring two lovers to a better understanding of one another and draw them closer.
Nothing keeps the fires of love burning like some emotional closeness. Especially since women work sexually from an emotional place, men love to be admired and to feel like they are doing things their woman appreciates and needs.
Keep trying this process until it becomes so natural you and your partner can connect effortlessly and then get to the fun of why your partnered up in the first place… Intimacy.
Which, by the way, means INTO ME SEE. Who doesn’t want that?
Meanwhile, got to go. Only have so much time with the hubby until his work is done next month, thank God. Praise the Lord! Want to go spend it seeing into him and him seeing into me. We have a lot of catching up to do!
Michelle Hammer, MS, LCPC, CPC, currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer at Turning Leaf Counseling & Consultation, LLC.
Wasn’t that good? How often do we get too busy doing our own thing, that we don’t slow down long enough to share our hearts with our spouse and create intimacy?
This week think of some ways that you can create intimacy with your spouse, and create some time for emotional closeness.