Questions this week include how to be honest with each other when one partner is sensitive to hearing the truth and grieving the loss of a parent.
Dear Mary Jo,
I have a gorgeous husband, but whenever I try to communicate my frustration with him he gives me the silent treatment. Now I’m scared he may leave if I start to open my mouth. Any idea what I can do?
It’s difficult to be vulnerable and close in your marriage if you can’t be honest with how you feel. But often times when you’re expressing feelings your partner ends up feeling criticized or blamed. Many who use the silent treatment are unaware they’re using it. You learn how to deal with hurt feelings at a young age watching your parents. Begin your conversation when it’s just the two of you and you’re alone, and mention to him that you want to feel closer to him, and that means you need to be honest with how you feel. Take ownership of your feelings by using “I” statements instead of pointing a finger and saying, “you make me feel this way.” The more he understands your intention is to make the relationship better and not fix him, the more he’ll be receptive to listening and working with you. His inability to hear how you feel without walking away is not being a responsible partner. No marriage is perfect, and listening to each other, even if it means you have to make changes, helps create a united and close relationship.
Dear Mary Jo,
My dad just passed away about five months ago and sometimes I feel lost and all alone. Is this normal?
I’m sorry for your loss, and yes your feelings of loneliness are completely normal. It’s even tougher if you feel as though there were things you still needed to tell him and now will never be heard. Grief comes in waves and sometimes it hits you when you least expect it or feel ready to deal with it. The best thing you can do is reach out to others to share your feelings. Keeping family and friends close will help as well as joining a grief support group. A group will help you feel supported by others going through some of the same feelings you are and it will help you feel less alone. Churches as well as bereavement counselors are available. There are stages of grief, but there is nothing orderly your feelings will follow. Feeling angry, depressed and trying to deny the loss will fluctuate with bargaining and acceptance. A wonderful place to begin is Grief Share, an online resource that helps you find groups and also sends you daily emails of encouragement.