Claudia Cooley

Conversations that Enrich Relationships

…Dialoguing to create a stronger communication outcome.
What is a feeling?

A feeling is a pleasurable or painful sensation experienced when a person is stirred to sympathy, anger, joy, love, grief, etc.  Feelings can be caused b thoughts or reactions to circumstances, i.e.; I feel confident because I am capable. I feel tired because my energies are used up. I feel angry because you didn’t perform according to my expectations.  I feel nervous and upset when I think about speaking before a crowd.

In the beginning we all tend to write the same feelings. In any reasonably good marriage, the spouses come to think alike about a lot of things, and in early dialogues we often use the word “feel” when we “think.”  The result is a dull…”I know what she’s going to write attitude. Persistence pays off. There is a breakthrough point when we realize that we have been intellectualizing, not feeling. Every couple is different and there is no schedule for when you make the transition from “thinking” to “feeling”. 

Dialoguing is not a magic pill, however, it is a tool when practiced will bridge a gap to become more understanding of the other person, allowing each to thrive as an individual and to build a relationship that can soar.  I like to call them “The daily writing of our love letters.”  

We’ve been trained to think rather than feel, so it may feel difficult at first.  Don’t give up, but make a commitment to practice “dialoguing” for 90 days. We all have the tendency in the beginning to write from judgment rather than feelings.  (Keep in mind when I feel…followed by “That” is a judgment not a feeling. Remember, You will easily be more tuned into your partner when you are waiting to hear how they feel.  It will become like a dance, where you are moving to the same beat. As you practice the dialoguing technique you will grow in your trust of each other in your communications because you won’t feel like you are being judged, but heard.  

How to describe feelings:

  1. Describe from your experience – the children, a baseball game, etc.
  2. Recognize the difference in male and female viewpoints
  3. Realize that men usually write less, women more
  4. “Why” doesn’t describe a feeling.  It explains the circumstances that caused the feeling.  “I feel good because….” Is not a description, it’s an explanation. “I feel as good as the time you brought me flowers” is a description.
  5. Sometimes you can identify a feeling by relating the sensation to a particular part of the body, i.e.;  gut feelings felt in the stomach (nausea, that butterfly feeling), and ache in the throat with longing; heart pounding with fright. 

Dialogue Preparation

  • Have a special notebook dedicated to this very special activity. 
  • Pick the topic for the day.  (You can use the list provided for ideas)
  • Take time during the day to write in your notebook on the topic, using the words “I feel”….

Dialogue Activity – Daily 10/10

Pick a prime time… not just when it’s convenient.  A time when you are both sharpest and no outside pressures are pending.  Usually a good time is before dinner. Set aside 20 minutes for this very special time.  10 minutes for one and 10 minutes for the other. 

Pick a quiet place where there won’t be any interruptions.  Leave all technology on “off.” (yes you can give up the cell phone for 20 minutes.)

Start with a short prayer.

Read your partner’s love letter.  Read it twice slowly without comments. Listen with your heart.  We each have our own unique feelings… and cannot be argued. They just are. 

Next , sit facing each other and touch one another… holding hands is special. x

Then we start by each of us sharing how we feel after reading each other’s love letter.   These feelings are present at this time and are alive or “now feelings.” It’s imperative that I put everything I have into my “love letter” to describe my feeling completely and full in terms of a love letter. 

Zero in on a feeling generate in response to reading the love letter and concentrate on it and focus on our spouse, who has that feeling.  This is when our 10 minutes starts. We must set our own feelings aside. We must concentrate and be totally open. We work at the dialogue to bring out all of the richness of our relationship.  Our focus isn’t on the feeling itself but on the spouse feeling it. Don’t listen with your head, but listen with your heart. After all you are building a closer relationship with the one you love.

In the same regard, start your dialogue share with the fullest awareness of what you feel.  We must be patient and gently and spell the feeling out in the greatest of possible detail. You might ask yourself: 

What goes into the feeling?

How it began?

What exactly are my reactions to it?

October 17, 2019
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