Raise your hand if you did a double-take when you heard the term emotional intelligence for the first time. I mean, who can be emotional and intelligent at the same time, especially when you consider emotions travel at warp speed? One minute, everything is fine between you and your spouse, and the next, she’s crying, you’re yelling, and neither of you has a clue what just happened, whose fault it is, or the wherewithal to understand where each other is coming from.
While emotional intelligence sounds foreign, the importance of it is more obvious than you think. Emotional intelligence is the ability to make your emotions work for you rather than against you. Furthermore, it’s a mindset shift that all couples must invest in if they want to illuminate every dark corner of their relationship and have a safe and connected marriage.
OOPS! Your feelings are showing
If you’ve followed our blog for any length of time, you’ve probably noticed we talk about emotions A LOT. The reason why is simple. In my practice, the key to connecting couples — regardless of the issue that brought them into my office — is improving their emotional connection. When we don’t feel emotionally safe, our hearts and spirits feel disconnected and closed. We get angry. We yell. Resentment begins to set in. We may fly off the handle more times than we care to admit. On top of that, we build walls, which makes it difficult to effectively deal with stress and conflict.
Conversely, the more aware we are of the emotions that are being experienced — whether it’s our emotions or our spouse’s emotions — the more likely we are to understand what is really taking place deeper inside.
That’s where emotional intelligence comes into play.
In simple terms, emotional intelligence (EQ or EI) is the ability to recognize, understand, and manage our own emotions and those of others. Cultivating this intelligence helps us understand the various emotions and feelings we have.
We use emotional information to guide our thinking and behaviors and manage or adjust our emotions so that:
- Feelings don’t take over our thinking
- Impact of our emotions on our relationships is managed
- We can recognize how we feel, and how others do, too
- Feelings are kept “under control” so we manage how we act and behave
- Understanding how emotions affect the situations we are in
- We are more empathetic and compassionate. We value, honor, and respect others
- Being more engaged and comfortable socially
- We have more appropriate communication when things are difficult
Peter Salavoy and John Mayer offer the first concept of Emotional Intelligence, and the idea gained traction when Daniel Goleman wrote about it in his 1996 book, Emotional Intelligence. Dr. David Walton refers to emotional intelligence as a set of mental skills that enable us to use emotional reasoning. He says it is “being able to use emotions to enhance rather than restrict your thinking.”
Not to be outdone, Susan David, Ph.D., calls emotional intelligence “emotional agility.” She states that “emotional agility allows us to move away from patterns that no longer serve us and toward new spaces of growth.”
12 ways to increase your emotional intelligence
So, how do we increase our ability to be more emotionally intelligent? While it may not happen overnight, Goleman broke emotional intelligence down into four domains and 12 core competencies to help us get there faster.
Domain 1: Self-Awareness — Knowing how you feel, why you feel that way, and how those feelings help or hinder you.
- Emotional self-awareness
Domain 2: Self-Management — Managing how you respond, especially in times of stress, conflict, and adversity.
- Emotional self-control
- Achievement orientation
- Positive outlook
Domain 3: Social Awareness — Listening and paying attention to others and finding common ground.
- Organizational awareness
Domain 4: Relationship Management — Motivating and mentoring each other and dealing effectively with conflict.
- Coach and mentor
- Conflict management
- Inspirational leadership
Goleman’s philosophy works for all aspects of life, not just marriage. Each of the four abilities is interconnected and naturally complements the others; however, you could excel at certain aspects of the four abilities and display weaknesses in others. The key to strengthening your emotional intelligence is first to identify your personal traits and tendencies and then develop strategies to maximize your strengths and minimize your weaknesses.
Check back with us as we continue this conversation, as it deserves more time than just one blog post. The main takeaway for this post is that emotional intelligence is vitally important for a safe and connected marriage. The ones who embrace it and move toward each other’s emotions will find that their relationships become more meaningful and emotionally safe, and their closeness and intimacy increases. More importantly, they find each other’s hearts!
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Our heart is devoted to caring about people. We want to ensure you have the tools to know and understand how important trust in a marriage is for you and your spouse. Plus, we want to help other couples just like you. The best way we know how to do that is by spreading the word to more people and let them know that we are here. Join us on social media. IG – MikeandSusanDawsonCo. FB – MikeandSusanDawson
What do you think? How have you and your spouse worked toward improving each other’s emotional intelligence? What has changed in your relationship as a result? We want to hear your stories. Send us a quick email and let us know. mike@MikeandSusanDawson.com.