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How To Effectively Communicate With A Hypersensitive Spouse

How To Effectively Communicate With A Hypersensitive Spouse

I love my wife. She is a beautiful, caring, and loving person. She has taught me a great deal about myself and how I communicate.

You see, I wasn’t always a sensitive person. I was raised to be tough and numb to feelings. I kept all feelings inside because I was not allowed to express them. My father was strict and to him feelings were nothing more than a sign of weakness. Imagine over 20 years of that type of conditioning!

As an adult, I had a difficult time expressing my true feelings to anyone because of my lack of experience with sharing while I was growing up. I do not at all place all blame on my dad — he came from an upbringing that was identical to mine, so to raise me this way was all he knew.

In my relationships, I struggled a lot with communicating my feelings. Most times, I just held it in, reverting back to my childhood conditioning.

It wasn’t until I met my wife that it all quickly began to change. She is truly a blessing to me because she is teaching me to allow my feelings to surface, to express and communicate those feelings in a way that is understandable, honest, and gentle. I wasn’t always the most careful, keen, and considerate when it came to expressing certain strong feelings like frustration and anger. Now that I have come to slowly accept my feelings as they arise, feel them, and express them considerately — both for myself and others — my life has changed for the better.

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It helps a ton that my wife is a hypersensitive person. She can sense my feelings, gauge my mood, and, with her strong sixth-sense of knowing that something’s off with me, she can somehow disable my inner barriers, allowing me to be open and free to express myself. The best part is that there are never any judgements — the space is always safe to explain my feelings. In fact, I think that’s why it got easier and easier to open up to my wife.

I’m not going to lie, her hypersensitivity sometimes scares me due to just how intuitive she can be. Our communication wasn’t always this good and productive during the early days of our relationship. I’ve definitely learned a lot about how to express myself to her in a more gentle and loving manner, regardless of how frustrated or confused I might feel. I am now experiencing the wonderful snowball effect of my newfound communication skills.

With my communication at its best with my wife, I have discovered that I have also improved my communication with others, bringing me closer to my best self. Here are 10 ways that I have learned to communicate better with my hypersensitive spouse.

1. Empathize

Put yourself in their shoes and truly try to understand where they are coming from. They are sensitive for a reason, and that reason is that they feel and interact with their environment in a way that you may not feel or understand.

Their sensitivity is a gift and a curse because they have the ability to feel not just their own feelings but the feelings and energies of others around them. Those other feelings can be heavy and negative, which can take a lot out of them when trying to communicate. Understand that it may take a while for your sensitive spouse to fully communicate their feelings to you because they have to let go of other energies.

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2. Listen

Listen, and listen very carefully to what your spouse is saying. When they are burdened with negative energy or feelings, they may say things that might not make sense or have a difficult time expressing themselves out of their own frustration. Recognize their struggle and listen intently to what they are saying and how they are saying it. Do not interrupt and interject with your answers. Let them speak freely because that just might be the only thing they need to do to feel better. All you have to do is listen.

3. Provide Physical Affection

Just like listening, physical affection can also be productive in communicating with your spouse. Nonverbal body language can speak volumes when communicating with your sensitive spouse. Just a simple touch or laying your hand on their hand will let them know that you care and are there for them. Sensitive people love affection because it gives them comfort and a sense of protection. When speaking with your spouse, try gentle touches or holding their hands.

4. Paraphrase

When you get the chance to answer or tell them how you feel, make sure you paraphrase what they have just told you. They will feel that you were intently listening and that you empathize with how they feel. One-word answers are not enough. I know this because I was the king of one-word answers. Paraphrase first, then reply to their question or statement. This also lets them know that you understand them and that you aren’t just trying to fix the issue at hand. They need a lot of this because it helps them figure their own thoughts and feelings out.

5. Adjust Your Voice Volume

Sometimes, we get passionate or frustrated and our voice volume elevates without us even realizing. To a sensitive spouse, it can be very loud and condescending. Your spouse is very sensitive to the tone and volume of your voice. Even when you speak under your breath, they can hear it.

Try to keep a very soft and gentle voice. Breathe between statements if you have to — it helps to regulate your volume in those passionate or frustrating times. Remember the type of person you are dealing with, because if you don’t, the conversation can quickly turn for the worse.

6. Acknowledge Their Feelings

Your spouse doesn’t need you to fix the problem or issues that they are facing. Sometimes, they only need you to acknowledge how they feel. This goes along with empathizing. If your spouse seems stressed and they are expressing how they feel, let them finish their thoughts, validate how they feel by agreeing, and apologize to show empathy for what they are going through.

7. Apologize

To some, this step may seem confusing because we have been taught to only apologize for the things we’ve done wrong. Do not take this personally or feel that you are always wrong. Most times, your spouse just wants to feel that you understand how they feel. I’ve learned that apologizing is also used to show empathy for what your spouse may be going through. Apologizing shows that you understand the discomfort that they feel daily. For them to even open up to you about their discomfort means it’s a really hard day, moment, or time for them. You apologizing to them let’s them feel seen, heard, and validated.

Apologies can go something like this, “I’m sorry you feel that way” or “I’m sorry you have to deal with that.” You are not apologizing for anything you did, but rather showing you care.

8. Be Patient

If you are not a patient person, you will need to learn and learn fast. You have to understand that your hypersensitive spouse can take quite a long time to process, feel, and let go of what they are going through. They may not be thinking logically about their situation because they are “feelers” — naturally hypersensitive people will automatically turn to their emotions first, then attach their thoughts logically. It’s your job to have patience through this process. Remember, when you go through your own trials and tribulations in life, they will also be patient with you.

9. Look for Solutions

After your spouse has settled down, expressed how they feel, and after you’ve empathized and apologized while showing physical affection, then come up with a practical solution. Phrase the solution in a question so it doesn’t sound like it is the absolute answer to their issues. Your whole goal is to make them feel better after they’ve fully expressed themselves. Ask them comforting questions like: “Is there anything I can do to make you feel better?” or “how can I help you with your problem?” Most times, your spouse will tell you exactly what they need and that is the answer you are looking for.

10. Remember To Love

Relationships are hard. Period. With a hypersensitive spouse, it can be a little harder because they react to and feel things that you often overlook. Remember to choose your spouse every day. During those difficult times is when it’s the most important to remember all the reasons why you chose them for all of your days.

Remember: loving your spouse when it’s easy is great, but loving your spouse when they aren’t at their most lovable is the love that matters most. That love will move you forward through any difficult conversation or situation that you may both go through. Remember that their hypersensitivity is a gift that you should love and accept. Don’t be surprised if their intuition always seems right. Love them unconditionally with patience and your life will never be the same.

I continue to learn from my wife every day because situations are always changing. I become more and more patient, loving, and tender. What I learn from her, I take with me when dealing with others. With everyday pressures and responsibilities, we often forget to think about and feel what others might feel. We seldomly are wise with our words and tone of voice. People react to things differently, but if we are aware of ourselves and how we speak, we can better understand how to say things in a more loving and effective way.

Featured photo credit: Monica Ricci via snapwiresnaps.tumblr.com

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Last Updated on July 8, 2020

How to Say No When You Say Yes Too Often

How to Say No When You Say Yes Too Often

Do you say yes so often that you realize you aren’t really happy about this, wondering how to say no to people?

For years, I was a serial people pleaser. Known as someone who would step up, I would gladly make time especially when it came to volunteering for certain causes. I proudly carried this role all through grade school, college, even through law school. For years, I thought saying “no” meant I would disappoint a good friend or someone I respected.

But somewhere along the way, I noticed I wasn’t quite living my life. Instead, I seem to have created a schedule that was a strange combination of meeting the expectations of others, what I thought I should be doing, and some of what I actually wanted to do. The result? I had a packed schedule that left me overwhelmed and unfulfilled.

It took a long while but I learned the art of saying no. Saying ‘no’ meant I no longer catered fully to everyone else’s needs and could make more room for what I really wanted to do. Instead of cramming too much in, I chose to pursue what really mattered. I started to manage my time more around my own needs and interests. When that happened, I became a lot happier. And guess what? I hardly disappointed anyone.

The Importance of Saying No

When you learn the art of saying ‘no,’ you begin to look at the world differently. Rather than seeing all of the things you could or should be doing (and aren’t doing), you start to look at how to say yes to what’s important.

In other words, you aren’t just reacting to what life throws at you. You seek the opportunities that move you to where you want to be.

Successful people aren’t afraid to say no. Oprah Winfrey considered one of the most successful women in the world confessed that it was much later in life when she learned how to say no. Even after she had become internationally famous, she felt she had to say yes to virtually everything. It was only when she realized that after years of struggling with saying no, I finally got to this question: “What do I want?”

Being able to say no also helps you manage your time better.

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Warren Buffett views no as essential to his success. He said,

“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”

When I made ‘no’ a part of my toolbox, I drove more of my own success focusing on fewer things and doing them well.

How We Are Pressured to Say Yes

It’s no wonder a lot of us find it hard to say ‘no.’

From an early age, we are conditioned to say ‘yes.’ We said yes probably hundreds of time in order to graduate from high school and then get into college. We said yes to find work. We said yes get a promotion. We said yes to find love and then yes again to stay in a relationship. We said yes to find and keep friends.

We say yes because it feels better to help someone. We say yes because it can seem like the right thing to do. We say yes because we think that is key to success. And we say yes because the request might come from someone who is hard to resist like the boss.

And that’s not all. The pressure to say yes doesn’t just come from others. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves. At work, we say yes because we compare ourselves to others who seem to be doing more than we are. Outside of work, we say yes because we feel guilty we aren’t doing enough to spend time with family or friends.

The message no matter where we turn is nearly always, “You really could be doing more.” The result? When people ask us for our time, we are heavily conditioned to say yes.

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How to Say No Without Feeling Guilty

Deciding to add the word ‘no’ to your toolbox is no small thing. Perhaps you already say ‘no’ but not as much as you would like. Maybe you have an instinct that if you were to learn the art of ‘no’ that you could finally create more time for things you care about. But let’s be honest, using the word ‘no’ doesn’t come easily for many people.

The 3 Rules of Thumbs for Saying No

1. You Need to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

Let’s face it. It is hard to say no. Setting boundaries around your time especially you haven’t done it much in the past will feel awkward.

2. You Are the Air Traffic Controller of Your Time

Remember that you are the only one who understands the demands for your time. Think about it, who else knows about all of the demands on your time? No one. Only you are at the center of all of these requests. are the only one that understands what time you really have.

3. Saying ‘No’ Means Saying ‘Yes’ to Something That Matters

When we decide not to do something, it means we can say yes to something else. You have a unique opportunity to decide how you spend your precious time.

6 Ways to Start Saying No

Incorporating that little word ‘no’ into your life can be transformational. Turning some things down will mean you can open doors to what really matters. Here are some essential tips to learn the art of no:

1. Check in With Your Obligation Meter

One of the biggest challenges to saying ‘no’ is a feeling of obligation. Do you feel you have a responsibility to say yes and worry that saying no reflect poorly on you?

Ask yourself whether you truly have the duty to say yes. Check your assumptions or beliefs about whether you carry the responsibility to say yes. Turn it around and instead ask what duty you owe to yourself.

2. Resist the Fear of Missing out (FOMO)

Do you have a fear of missing out (FOMO)? FOMO can follow us around in so many ways. At work, we volunteer our time because we fear we won’t move ahead. In our personal lives, we agree to join the crowd because FOMO even while we ourselves aren’t enjoying the fun.

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Check in with yourself. Are you saying yes because of FOMO or because you really want to say yes? More often than not, running after fear doesn’t make us feel better.

3. Check Your Assumptions About What It Means to Say ‘No’

Do you dread the reaction you will get if you say no? Often, we say ‘yes’ because we worry about how others will respond or the consequences of saying no or because of the consequences. We may be afraid to disappoint others or think we will lose respect from others. We often forget how much we are disappointing ourselves along the way.

Keep in mind that saying ‘no’ can be exactly what is needed to send the right message that you have limited time. In the tips below, you will see how to communicate your no in a gentle and loving way. You might disappoint someone initially but drawing a boundary can bring you the freedom you need so that you can give freely of yourself when you truly want to.

4. When the Request Comes In, Sit on It

Sometimes, when we are in the moment, we instinctively agree. The request might make sense at first. Or we typically have said yes to this request in the past.

Give yourself a little time to reflect on whether you really have the time, or can do the task properly. You may decide the best option is to say ‘no.’ There is no harm in giving yourself the time to decide.

5. Communicate Your ‘No’ with Transparency and Kindness

When you are ready to tell someone no, communicate your decision clearly. The message can be open and honest to ensure the recipient that your reasons have to do with your limited time.

Resist the temptation not to respond or communicate all. But do not feel obligated to provide a lengthy account about why you are saying no.

A clear communication with a short explanation is all that is needed. I have found it useful to tell people that I have many demands and need to be careful with how I allocate my time. I will sometimes say I really appreciate that they came to me and for them to check in again if the opportunity arises another time.

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6. Consider How to Use a Modified ‘No’

If you are under pressure to say yes but want to say no, you may want to consider downgrading a “yes” to a “yes but…” giving you an opportunity to condition your agreement to what works best for you.

Sometimes, the condition can be to do the task but not in the time frame that was originally requested. Or perhaps you can do part of what has been asked.

Final Thoughts

Beginning right now, you can change how you respond to requests for your time. When the request comes in, take yourself off autopilot where you might normally say yes.

Use the request as a fresh request to draw a healthy boundary around your time. Pay particular attention to when you place certain demands on yourself. If you are the one placing the demand on yourself, try to evaluate the demand as if it were coming from somewhere else.

Try it now. Say no to a friend who continues to take advantage of your goodwill. Or, draw the line with a workaholic colleague and tell them you will complete the project but not by working all weekend. Or, tell someone in your family you can’t loan them money again because they never paid you back the last time. You’ll find yourself much happier.

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Featured photo credit: Chris Ainsworth via unsplash.com

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