How to Communicate your Feelings to your Spouse

One of the things that have immensely helped me to improve my communication with my spouse is the ability to communicate my feelings, especially when I am disappointed, angry or upset.

  • Remove blame

What I have learned, by reading various books on communication, is that, even if my wife says or does something that hurts me, I have to remove any form of blame from my language.

Blame, even when justified, causes people to defend or even counterattack.

So, what I have learned is that it is way more effective to say something along the lines of “when you did this I felt…..”, “When you did this I interpreted as….”. This way I communicate how I felt and how I interpreted the situation and therefore I put the blame upon myself instead of blaming her and causing her to become defensive and retaliate.

  • Avoid saying always/never

What I have also learned is that I need to avoid saying things (or conveying that idea) like “you always ….” or “you never…” because, by doing that, I am questioning her as a person and I am implying that she is someone who always….or never…. and, therefore, I try to be specific.

For example, instead of saying “you never hug me when I come home” or “when I come home and you don’t hug me…“, I say “when I came home yesterday and you didn’t hug me I felt….”. This way I avoid accusing her that she always….or that she never….

  • Never question your partner as a person or the relationship itself

I also remind myself who she is as a person and that she is more than her behavior.

Somewhere along the line I decided to be in this relationship because, evidently, I fell in love with who she is as a person.

The problem is that many of us, when we are upset, tend to forget who our spouse is and the reason why we entered the relationship in the first place and question who our spouse is, her motives and the essence of the relationship, and I used to fall into this trap too.

So, what I have learned is to say something along the lines of “I know you love me” and then I go on communicating my needs or feelings in the following way “…I just want to tell you that when I came home yesterday (not you always/never) I felt (not you made me feel)…..” or something along the lines of “…I felt as if you….and I know this is not true because I know who you are“.

  • Use “and” instead of “but”

Another important thing I have learned by reading books on relationships is to replace “but” with “and”.

Why is this important?

If I say for example “I know you love me but when you….I felt…” I am kind of contradicting what I just said, namely “I know you love me”.

It is way more effective to say something like “I know you love me and ….” which kind of conveys the idea that “I know you love me and I would feel even more loved if….”.

Learning how to communicate my feelings and upsets and speak my truth in a way that creates bridges rather than walls has been a huge game changer for my relationship and I believe that if more people studied this kind of information and read books on relationships, and made an earnest effort to apply the suggestions contained in those books, there would be way less broken marriages.

Language Barriers in a Western-Filipino Couple

When I first met the Filipino woman who later became my wife she could barely speak my language. This was not a problem because I am fluent in English and, like many Filipino women, she is fluent in English too, and all the more so because she’s got a college degree.

I have been in this relationship for 20 years now and she is now fluent in Italian and I am fluent in Tagalog. But it took her around 10 years to really become fluent in Italian and it took me, more or less, the same amount of time to master Tagalog to the point of being able to communicate with her in a meaningful way.

I know plenty of Western-Filipino couples where the husband is Italian or from another non-English speaking country (I know French-Filipino couples, German-Filipino couples etc.).

In most cases the Western husband is a well-travelled individual who is fluent in English and few of them are also trying to learn Tagalog.

However I know few couples where the Western mate speaks neither English nor is he trying to learn Tagalog.

Now, what I have noticed is that most Filipinas, when they settle in a non-English speaking country, it really takes them a long while to master the local language.

Here in Italy most Filipinos never really learn the language properly and the kind of job they do (many are live-in domestic helpers) doesn’t offer them the chance to mingle with local people and practice the language. On top of all that I’ve also noticed that Filipinos don’t have a way with languages and grammar. Although my wife is Filipino and I am always surrounded by Filipinos, I have had to study Tagalog by myself because they don’t even know the structure of their own language, let alone being able to explain it to others (Italians are not any better under this aspect though).

So, apart from English, which they learned in the Philippines when they were kids, when they move to a foreign non-English speaking country, they struggle to learn the local language.

So, I guess that if a non-English speaking guy struggles with the English language, he’d probably better improve it before marrying a Filipina because being already in a relationship where he speaks nothing but Italian, French, German or any language that is different from English and she struggles with the language of her husband can lead to huge communication issues.

I know a couple that lives in my neighborhood and they have this communication gap and, sure enough, the relationship is barely coasting along. There might be other problems that I have no knowledge of but certainly the language barrier is a huge obstacle.

I know other couples in which the parents of the Filipino wife live with them and the Western husband is unable to understand what they talk about.

So, in those situations a lot of problems can arise and do actually arise.

Although my wife and I can communicate in English, Italian and Tagalog we still have misunderstandings from time to time and culture shock still requires a lot of effort on both parts.

So, in order not to end up like those couples that only have superficial communication and avoid all the problems that are a consequence of that, non-English speakers who wish to marry a Filipina had better carefully weigh how language barriers might impact their interracial relationship before committing.

How to Deal With an Emotional Filipina

The Philippines have a hot and humid tropical weather and quite a few people there seem to be a little hot tempered or, as they say in Tagalog, mainit ang ulo.

Emotionalism is one of the hallmark characteristics of Filipinos and….of women in general.

Many relationship experts have come to the consensus that the best way to deal with emotionally charged people and situations is by keeping one’s cool and by keeping on showing kindness so that strong emotions will slowly but surely melt away.

Like many concepts that relationship experts across the planet talk about, even this concept of treating with kindness a person who is treating you lousy is nothing new, in fact it is very old.

A passage from the New Testament reads “do not render evil for evil…but keep on conquering evil with the good”.

A similar concept can also be found in the words of Socrates “then we ought not to retaliate or render evil for evil to anyone“, providing further evidence that human psychology was designed in such a way that loving relationships (not just romantic relationships but all kind of human interactions) are only possible when one of the two partners breaks the pattern of anger by raising above it to the point of showering it with kindness in circumstances in which showing kindness is a very counterintuitive move.

It has been said that success comes from counterintuitive moves, we succeed in every aspect of life including intimate relationships by going against the grain, by going against what our psyche naturally wants to do.

What our psyche naturally wants to do when someone lashes out is to vent back but that kind of behavior only calls forth further anger.

The Philippines is one of those cultures where, generally speaking, people quickly overreact when provoked and there are drivers who carry a tubo or a knife in case someone cuts them off.

So a Filipina comes from that kind of environment where the degree of emotionality is a little higher than in other countries. Yet there are cross-cultural gems of wisdom, that can also be found in modern psychology and relationship coaching, that can make a world of difference.

Indeed success in anything in life comes from counterintuitive moves and one of the most effective counterintuitive moves is conquering evil (well, an angry spouse is not “evil” but the pattern of lashing out creates pretty lousy situations) by raising above it and becoming masters at showing kindness in an emotionally charged situation.

Indeed the One who created human psychology knew better and I can say from personal experience that this principle does indeed produce amazing things.