The Latest Ask Bull City Question: My husband and I married in August, and are hitting a very rough communication spot. It seems he perceives my voicing feelings of our problems as criticism and becomes defensive and angry so that any attempt to discuss what I am feeling becomes a tug of war of I'm right and you're wrong, His defense is an offense and I become the "wrong". I am conscious of saying the "I feel this, and I am feeling that" to not put him on the defensive, but to no avail. His family is highly critical and his first marriage was very draining in many ways for him. We are digging ourselves into a hole and I am afraid for our future as I feel myself feeling unappreciated and unadorned which is making me close down emotionally.
One of the first things that I would suggest is to notice what you are saying after "I feel . . ." It may not be true for you, but often people who are trying to make 'I' statements still turn them into 'you' statements. Examples are "I feel you care only about yourself." "I feel that you don't help me out enough with household chores." "I feel that you make work a priority over me." This statement, first of all, is not about feelings, but about thoughts. Anytime you can replace "I feel" with "I think" in a sentence and have it make sense, you are most likely dealing with a thought. Feelings are more like "I feel hurt" "I feel frustrated."