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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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