"Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret."
Re-creating Your Way of Communicating Anger or Hurt Feelings
When angry or hurt, it's too easy to go crazy-mad-woman or man. Being a girl who when hurt, can send things, including my sanity and any possible happiness for that particular evening straight down the toilet, just by the way I communicate, my hurt often landed me in tough spots. I had to find ways to go about showing I was hurt rather than flipping out. I'm going to share with you the way I manage to share my anger or hurt feelings while keeping the lunatic locked inside, and it can even be fun, so forget time outs and counting to ten, here's how we fight.
A tried and true method that some couples and even families “play” in order to comfortably communicate anger or hard feelings with each other during what may be rocky times.
A simple set of colored cards is all that’s needed. In our case, we’ve used the colored note cards or "flash cards" and even used white ones colored with our own colored pencils. If you have no cards, you can cut small card-sized squares out of any paper you already have on hand.
We have: one red card, a blue card, a yellow, green, pink, purple and black card.
Here is how it works:
Place the cards between yourself and your spouse. Each person chooses a random card. If you chose red, you’d share something that angers you with your partner. Then it would be your spouse's turn. Say they chose blue; they would then share aloud something that brings them comfort. When the black card is chosen, one would share something that saddens/depresses them, and when purple is chosen, something that empowers them. Yellow stands for something that brings happiness/warmth to them, green is for something they need. Lastly, when a person chooses pink, they would share something they love about their spouse.
As an example, once I chose a green card, which resembles a need, and shared with my partner that a need I have is to know that I can share my feelings without him responding negatively such as with eye rolling. When choosing pink, I once shared that something I love about him is his hands, their looks, what they resemble to me, and on another occasion I shared something I love that he does, which was putting a hand on me in the middle of the night when I have nightmares and shed a tear while sleeping. When he drew a yellow card, he once shared that him being able to make me smile when I'm down was something that made him happy. Those are the easier ones to voice. When you draw red or black, it's a bit tougher, but starting out with the happies often makes it much easier. A couple more examples are the last time I chose a purple card I expressed that being active in a support group I'm with and an activist group is what makes me feel most empowered. The last time I chose black, I expressed that my missing cat had me depressed, and turned out he didn't know just how severe it had been, which was beneficial. He's expressed that cold winter months and my being sad depresses him! As for the angry red card, I use it for what has had me angry at the current moment or the most recent anger I've felt. I believe the last red card led me to sharing that I had been angry when he jokingly called me a name. And he expressed that I'd angered him when I "beat around the bush" and don't tell him what I want, which leads to him not knowing if he did what I wanted or not! A very confusing game at times, but I tell you, it can bring comfort, a little bonding and often a hug or a more in-depth conversation about what has made us feel what. Yes, this game can lead to something other than smiling pit bulls and singing hamsters, but it's the least likely way to bring about a nasty fight.
See? This is a wonderful, unique way to share feelings without putting anyone on the defense. Both parties gain and it brings up discussion on why certain things make you feel certain ways and what makes you feel good, happy and better. It also allows each to learn about the other, and know how to better meet your needs.
Rules Of The Game
First off, both parties should agree to play the game when in a somewhat peaceful state rather than when in an angered one because that could only result in hurt feelings. Also, both parties should be willing to try and make an effort and view this as a learning experience.
Thankfully, my partner is happy to communicate and try different things. He'd never shut me out and refuse to try anything I suggested, and vice versa. If you happen to have a spouse who's not up for a new method of learning/communicating together, I advise turning the tables on them. Ask him/her "well, do you have a better idea?" Perhaps that will get them in the mood, or suggest it in a playful manner, maybe even add that you guys could play a sexier card game afterwards. Heck, get creative and incorporate this game into one of your already favorite games like Ping-Pong! Heavens, how my partner loves Ping-Pong! He says he's a champ. Perhaps I'll take my own idea, and we'll even make a Ping-Pongin' game out of this.
For me, I can be shy to get the ball rolling, so in that case my partner will begin. We try to keep things like blame and such out and simply view it as a learning experience. Most times, we'll remember what was said during the "game" and either avoid doing it in the future or go at it a different way.
No blame! Let me say something you’ve heard since kindergarten, but cannot possibly hear enough of -- Stop blaming! Stop it. Get rid of it. Slaughter it. If you must put blame somewhere, put it on a piece of paper and flush it down the toilet. Put it on a piece of paper and set it on fire. Better yet, just do the latter so you don’t have a clogged septic system on top of your blame-less fight. Blame will do nothing. It will get you nowhere. After all, what good does it do to blame your loved one anyway? Whatever it takes, do away with it for good. You’ll feel a lot better, your partner will feel a lot better and you’ll begin to get to the root of problems much quicker when you forget that blame even exists.
Listen & discuss. Don't rush. Nobody wins this game, remember? If you or your partner grab a card that needs discussing, say you grab black and express that you've been depressed over a recent illness, issue at work or marital issue, whatever it may be, it would likely require a little talking instead of saying "next!" right after sharing. Some things will require a response. For instance, the time I drew a black card and told my partner just how severe my depressed feelings were over my kitty being missing, he didn't say "my turn!" and grab a card. He gave me some sympathy, expressed that he didn't realize how sad I'd continued to be, gave me some reassurance and all that good stuff. You don't have to jump through hoops, but you should offer something up when the black card of doom is drawn. A simple "when you start feeling the sadness again, you come find me and I'll give you a hug" would be awesome.
Say your partner draws pink and shares a compliment such as "you looked so sexy last night" it'd be a real nice thing to show appreciation. Don't rush on. A simple thanks first is nice.
Change Pants First. Take your defensive pants off and put your kind pants on. Before you guys begin the game, which I do hope someone tries it! I'm not typing to thin air here, am I? Make a promise to respond kindly, without blame (wait a minute. Blame shouldn't even be here anymore. We were supposed to flush it, or burn it, remember? Better hope you did that or else you'll need to pause right now and go make it happen. I'll still be here when you return.) Reassure each other you'll proceed with your kind pants on and not get angry or huffy and puffy at what is said. You'll share your feelings without hostility, and you'll respond with a nice tone, not a defensive one! It's a learning experience. If your partner's black card results in her presenting to you her cut toe because you forgot to take the garbage out, and therefore she had to do it causes you to be on the defensive, remember, you took those pants off already. No going back. You'll just have to make a mental note to be a better remember-er, and well, kiss her toe to make it better!