The Galimberti psychology dictionary defines feelings as an “emotion with a less intense affective resonance than passion, which lasts longer in time and with which the person experiences their subjective states and aspects of the outside world. In psychology, feelings have been the object of phenomenological analysis and specific considerations in depth psychology”.
We will not go into detail and deep scientific analyses here. What we are going to do instead is offer a simple and useful contribution to the understanding of self and of the other in a couple’s relationship. Hence, we will alternate the terms feelings and emotions without making much distinction.
When we talk about feelings, we mean those personal, spontaneous, and immediate reactions that arise on the inner level when we are before a person or a place, or else, in a situation we experience or think about, and they influence the way we act or behave.
They are as personal as fingerprints, eye color, or the sound of your voice; discovering and manifesting allows to share the mystery of your person.
Sometimes, people may feel shame or fear, and to protect themselves, they might try to suppress or deny these feelings. Doing thus, they are also likely to inhibit the ability to perceive the experiences that create a sense of wellbeing. Moreover, inability to listen to yourself and worries about yourself might prevent you from listening to other people; on the contrary, willingness to acknowledge one’s own inner world makes it easier to open.
Feelings have no moral value, we cannot judge them neither ourselves nor can they be judged by the others. They are signs that reveal something about themselves and about their own needs. A person is no better or more praiseworthy if she or he feels joy, affection, or liking; nor is a person evil if (s)he feels anger, resentment, or bitterness.
We have to distinguish clearly between feelings and behaviors. A feeling is instinctive and arises inside you and travels ahead of your reason. The latter takes place right afterwards… What makes your sentiment become good or bad is your choice. Hence, behaviors, actions, and inner states have a moral value and a person is responsible for them…
Sometimes, superficial feelings hide other feelings, which are deeper. We must try to go beyond immediate emotions, if we want to discover the inner experiences in the heart of a person: fears, inhibitions, aspirations, failures, and loneliness.
Feelings, therefore, play an important role in everyone’s life, they color our existence. Yet, if we do not handle them properly, they can weight on our interpersonal relationships. Misunderstandings and relationship problems are often born at that level.
Values and ideas are not what divides us: “feeling” is what creates misunderstandings, gaps, and the most painful tensions. Fear leads us away from the others, anger transform them in our enemies, and melancholy sadly stresses their absence… Often, people do not realize that their problems are often linked to the emotional sphere. We suffer because of feelings that arise when our sense of self-worth is threatened, since the primary requirement of human nature is self-esteem, self-respect, and the joy of being who you are. In the relationship between spouses, problems spring when these basic needs are threatened.