Our emotional capacity (represented by a tea kettle in Marriage Skill #32) is designed to experience positive emotions like love, joy, affection, and romance. Unmet needs cause our emotional kettle to fill with negative emotions pushing out the capacity for the positive emotions like this:
Unmet needs --> hurts, disappointment, sadness
--> anger, resentment, bitterness --> guilt (from retaliating) --> condemnation --> fear, anxiety,
resentment --> anxiety --> stress
(Illustrated By The Emotional Kettle)
(Adapted from Intimate Encounters, Dr. David & Teresa Ferguson, p. 19)
The emotional kettle can only hold so much negative emotions and when full it begins to spew into symptoms like:
Physical symptoms: can't sleep, not getting restful sleep, weight gain or loss (from emotional eating or not-eating).
Loss of energy and concentration: sit at your desk and cannot focus, miss your exit on the freeway, go to the store and realize you forgot your checkbook, get back from the grocery store and realize you forget the main thing you went to get, any stupid thing caused by being preoccupied with the painful emotions inside the kettle.
Escapes: When hurting what do you want most? Relief! An escape. Something that will move you away from the pain you feel, like: alcohol, drugs (illegal or illegal), sex, pornography, adultery, food, TV, novels, movies . . .
We can actually escape into things that are not necessarily wrong such as work, ministry or house chores that distract us from our pain and problems.
Depressed mood: feeling fatigue, unmotivated, hopeless, an attitude that "nothing good will ever come out of this."
Impatience, quick temper: Overreacting by treating $10 issues as if they are $100 issues because we don't realize that the one $10 issue pulled up 10 other $100 issues of like kind.
Physical side effects: head aches, heart pains, ulscers, digestive disorders, psychosomatic problems.
Controlling behavior: overly rigid boundaries, not trusting or being vulnerable with our needs, overly self dependent and reliant, obsessive compulsive disorders, inflexibility, unavailability, rigidity, demanding and controlling personality.
Loss of positive emotions: the worst is not really all the negative things listed above, but rather the loss of positive emotions like love, joy, peace, affection romance; all the things God desires for us when He said "it is not good for the man to be alone, I will make a helper suitable for him" (Gen. 2:18).
Experiential Activity: What is filling / overvlowing from your emotional kettle?
Husbands, ask your wives the following questions? Do you connect with anything inside or outside the emotional kettle?
- What stands out to you?
- What emotions are you feeling inside your emotional kettle?
- What symptoms are you experiencing now because of a kettle filled with negative emotions?
Wives ask your husbands questions 1-4 above.