6 Tips to Add Emotional Intelligence to Your Marriage
Many marital spats can be eliminated or squashed by flexing your EQ muscles.
The notion of emotional intelligence (EQ) having more or just as much importance as IQ has been circulating in the business world for some time. It’s now expected and sought after in all of the executive ranks. It seems logical that EQ would be even more critical in our relationships and especially in our marriages.
From a marital standpoint, this type of "intelligence" helps you understand your spouse’s point of view. It helps you recognize his or her emotional state and react appropriately. It’s also about fine-tuning your self-awareness and regulating your own emotions. All ingredients in a happy, balanced, respectful and loving marriage.
Here are seven ways to to add or increase your own EQ and manage your emotions. It’s a proactive approach that focuses on flexibility and understanding.
1. See things from your spouse’s life filters. We all bring several biases into our marriages based on our upbringing and our personal life experiences. We perceive things differently. That is why the exact same scenario can result in entirely different reactions. Think about the filters you use—the automatic responses and self-talk you have when something or someone triggers you. Where does that come from? Your spouse may or may not have the same. A simple question such as, "Is that you way you see it, too?" can save many misunderstandings. Emotions, wounds, hurts and feelings, etc., run deep and are often not even recognized. For a more experiential process, picture yourself walking into your spouse’s outline from his or her backside and literally move into his or her body, "seeing" and feeling from his or her perspective. Look through your spouse’s eyes at the world. What do you see and feel? How is this different from your own perspective?
2. Identify your family traditions. They directly effect your thoughts and behaviors towards life and your spouse. Research shows that we develop our social styles by the time we are 5 or 6 years old. We experiment with them through our teens and into adulthood. Think about your family’s social styles and norms and how they affected you as a toddler, adolescent and beyond. We bring those styles into our partnerships as a "given" or mode of operation. No two families are the same and therein lies the possible confusion and conflict. The two of you can create new traditions, however, and that’s part of the beautiful power you have as a couple.
3. Repeat what you think you heard and ask for confirmation. Let me first clarify that I don’t want your discussions to sound like a committee meeting such the… "If I heard your correctly…" kind of stuff that used to drive me crazy. Nooooo. And, girls, let’s be honest… we usually talk a lot and not always succinctly when emotions are involved. Guys need single, concrete concepts and direction. Add, with those tribal and family traditions and it’s easy to see how we misinterpret words and entire conversations.
Here’s a tip: Ask how you see something coming to fruition or "playing out" in real time. Words have many meanings. Create a picture in a way that both of you can truly grasp and visualize all the way to the outcome. Ask for feedback and measure your perceptions with reality.
4. Take a breath (actually, several) before reacting and add levity. Breathing is our life force and sustenance. It is also the most effective stop-gap between staying calm and grounded or not. We literally hold our breath during a crisis and when our emotions swell. Three deep breaths alone are therapeutic and definitely calming. Breathe more before you start talking. Beyond that, if you’re having a heated discussion, adding levity will change the entire vibrational energy—in a positive way. Both of you will stand on one foot while you talk, lay flat on the ground next to each other (while you talk), rub your tummies (while you talk) or anything else that takes you out of your story and filters. (Yes, I know. One of you might not agree to this, but you do it anyway and see how it creates a new landscape for better communication.)
5. Identify your triggers and that of your spouse. Healthy couples are respectful of and work around each other’s triggers. Additionally, you are responsible for identifying your own and actively working to release them. Triggers are based in fear and are often tied to the feeling of being vulnerable or hurt. That is why they can be so explosive. They are also, however, one of the best places to start your growth and evolvement.
6. Work on multi-dimensionality. The more you interact with groups and people, the less one-dimensional you are. The less one-D you are, the more you understand yourself, your spouse and those directly connected to both of you. Work on your versatility, adaptability and flexibility. They tie into responsiveness, and "responding" in a loving, compassionate and respectful way for both of you is the essence of emotional intelligence.
We are lead actors in our individual life movies. We are supporting actors in our spouse’s life movies and we are extras in our extended families. Increasing your EQ will increase your individual joy and happiness and add intimacy through an advanced level of understanding and communication. It gives you the best chance for a "happy ending" and a genuine, authentic partnership.
Tina Arana Anderson, M.A., is a media and wellness specialist and spiritual mentor. She combines her media and wellness experience with spiritual mentoring and intuitive guidance. She’s an angel therapist, clairvoyant and clairaudient as well as a writer, host and producer. Her ultimate gift is helping you with high vibrational, joy-filled living; deep inner-peace and lots of levity. For project collaborations, parties or private sessions, contact her at tinaandersonOC.com.