Our church recently hosted a marriage retreat at Hotel Floyd. It was a lot of fun. Quick review: Hotel Floyd is a fantastic, unknown venue for conferences and a perfect getaway destination for southwest Virginians.

Now… how do I feel? Normally, I would say “good.” Or “fine.” I’ve got a range of responses. Negative emotions are usually “frustrated” or “tired.” I found myself chuckling as we watched the first session’s video that featured Andy Stanley, pastor of Northpoint Church. He began to elaborate on the range of male emotional awareness and our ability to communicate that with our spouses. He said a dude’s responses range from “frustrated” to “angry” and pointed out that most guys simply aren’t in touch with how they feel. So it’s hard for us to communicate with our spouses – who very often know how they feel and more often than a guy wants to know are actually good discerners of how their husband feels as well.

Vader EmotionsIn the video, Andy helpfully (and humorously) offered suggested negative emotions for a guy to get in touch with. (If you’re in a good mood and experiencing positive emotions, your spouse will rarely ask you how you feel.) Here was the list I wrote down (and even added some of my own): anger, left out, embarrassed, unappreciated, ugly, unloveable, like a failure, jealous, old, stupid, lonely, abandoned, scared, out of control, betrayed, picked on, disrespected, insecure. I found this Darth Vader graphic on the net and changed it up a bit for my own use..

Andy’s points were

  1. Think of what you’re feeling before you speak. Name it. Say it out loud. If you can’t identify what emotion you’re feeling, and it remains a secret (even to you), your emotion may rule you. Emotions are powerful. But if you name it, it begins to lose its power over your mood and perspective. If you say it out loud to your spouse, it loses its power AND you lose your excuse.
  2. Tell your spouse. He said that you are simply expressing your feelings. It’s not a criticism of your spouse. It’s information. In a healthy relationship, the proper response from your spouse should be “I’m so glad you told me.” Then you can both listen to the other as you unpack what led you to feel what you do in a noncombative, healthy way.

Carolyn and I thoroughly enjoyed the retreat with the other couples. I felt good interested and open to change.

Here’s the video. I encourage you to watch it with your spouse. If you’d like to watch the other two sessions, you can find them here.

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