A friend confided in us recently that he was finding it increasingly difficult to deal with his wife’s emotions, which lately had more ups and downs than a rollercoaster. She’d get upset, whether it was because of him, the kids, or some outside force she expected him to know about and immediately empathize with, and he’d freeze like a deer in headlights. Sadly, he’d accuse her of being ultra-sensitive because, well, he just didn’t get what the problem was, and she’d leave the room in a huff.
It was interesting that he brought all this up since we talk to couples all the time about how to manage emotions in a relationship. This is easier said than done since men and women both handle feelings and emotions differently. But rather than get hung up on our differences, we should focus on managing our own emotions and embracing our partners. Also, we need to be very careful with our actions and behaviors.
Here are just a few emotional needs that are necessary for what couples want:
- Financial support
- Honesty and openness
- Sexual fulfillment
- Personal space
- Shared activities or recreation
- Physical attractiveness
- Domestic support
- Family commitment
Unfortunately, emotional disengagement and not being able to fulfill the needs mentioned above for our spouse is a consistent pattern that leads unhappy couples to disconnection or worse. Building emotional intimacy and being able to manage emotions in a relationship is essential for long, happy marriages.
So how do we effectively manage emotions in a relationship?
We’ve written several blogs over the years on everything from the need to cultivate emotional intelligence and embracing emotions to a few habits that may be stressing out your spouse. Clearly, we love talking about feelings and emotions! So with this post, we thought we’d zero in on 6 ways to effectively manage emotions in a relationship.
Resist negative energy
— All emotions are appropriate and natural. But emotions and behaviors are two very different things, and it’s those unchecked behaviors that ultimately lead to a breakdown in communication or needs left unfulfilled. This includes getting defensive, yelling, gestures such as an eye roll, or actions such as leaving the room out of frustration. Positive emotional communication and creating safety is the only way to manage emotions and conflict.
Ask your spouse if he/she is okay
— Sometimes, we won’t be able to recognize what we did wrong or what triggered our spouse’s emotional outburst. And that’s okay. But rather than chalk it up to them being ultra-sensitive, ask them if they are okay or what’s wrong. What you’ve done is to create a forum for your spouse to air their grievance positively. And once they get everything off their chest, you can work together to come up with a solution.
- Don’t dismiss their feelings – Have you ever listened to your spouse express their feelings. And then you follow it up by saying, “it’s not a big deal” or basically saying the same thing through your body language? Well, it may not be a big deal to you, but it is to your spouse. And saying something like that is an easy way to increase tension and drive a wedge between you. Acknowledge your spouse’s feelings and emotions, listen more than you speak, and empathize with them.
Share your feelings
— To piggyback off the previous tip, you can effectively manage emotions in a relationship by ensuring that your feelings have been properly shared, too. Doing so should create a healthy back-and-forth dialogue that will hopefully help manage the issues faster.
State your perspective and feelings
— Don’t add to the drama by pointing fingers or accusing your spouse. Calmly stating how you feel and why you feel this way is much more effective.
Don’t try to solve everything in one night
— To manage emotions in a relationship may take several conversations. This is especially true if the first one or two happen while either of you is upset. Both of you need to feel like it is okay to revisit the topic. Don’t wait too long though. Discuss whenever one or both of you are ready to do so.
Our heart is devoted to caring about people and marriages!
Our heart is and always has been devoted to caring about people and ensuring they have the tools to manage emotions in a relationship. The best way we know how to do that is to spread the word to more people. Let them know that we are here. Just forward the email you received or share this blog using the social media buttons below.
What do you think? Did we leave anything out? What works for you in your marriage? Please send us a quick email and help us keep this conversation going. mike@MikeandSusanDawson.com.