In a nutshell, Emotional Intelligence (EI) is the ability to identify and label your own emotions, as well as the emotions of others.
But why is this relevant to the success of a marriage? Well, you’d be surprised what role EI can have in strengthening or jeopardising a relationship.
Overwhelmed by work, the husband of this scenario is struggling to motivate himself to do anything but vegetate in front of the television. His wife walks in and doesn’t have enough awareness to understand that her husband is stressed and assumes that he’s simply being lazy and selfish. This makes her angry. She thinks his indolence is the cause; but in reality, her frustration is rooted in the fact that she feels insecure whenever he spends too much time alone.
Now a huge fight begins.
The husband feels unfairly attacked. He isn’t able to grasp the connection between his distant behaviour and his wife’s emotional response and accuses her of being dramatic and demanding. Both misunderstood the other and escalated the problem in their own way.
What this scenario teaches us is that EI is essential in three ways:
Any relationship involves a level of conflict resolution, and in marriage, it’s A LOT of conflict resolution. While everyone understands the importance of compromise, what many don’t realise is that compromise becomes almost impossible when you don’t even know why you’re upset in the first place. This is why accurately identifying your own emotions and that of your spouse is so important. In addition to this, misinterpreting or missing your partner’s emotional cues can even create conflict out of absolutely nothing.
Recognising your own emotional needs allows you to accurately communicate them, as opposed to lashing out at your spouse whenever they fail to satiate needs you don’t even understand yourself. This is a frustrating situation to be in for both parties.
The inability to manage negative emotions in a healthy way can easily lead to conflict, unnecessary escalation and frustration.
Now let’s take another look at the lazy husband scenario but in the case of a wife and husband with higher EI:
Wife walks into the living room and finds her husband in front of the television again. She feels angry, but takes a breath, looks inwards and recognizes feelings of insecurity. She watches her husband’s sullen mannerisms and concludes that he seems stressed and probably needs time to decompress. It’s not personal, she tells herself, and begins to relax.
This still doesn’t solve the wife’s need for closeness and affection. So, later on in the day, when her husband has had time to relax, she brings up the topic of spending more time together. The husband immediately connects the dots and apologises for seeming distant and offers reassurance and affection.
In this scenario, conflict was avoided because the wife was able to accurately read her husband’s stress, identify her own feelings, then take proactive measures to manage them. Moreover, the husband was able to understand his wife’s perspective, empathise with her emotions and give her the reassurance and attention she needs.
This is great news for couples with higher EI. But what do you do if this doesn’t apply to you? Can you develop higher emotional intelligence? The short answer is yes, and here are some internet-approved tips to get you started:
Author: Alwia Al-Hassan
Unlike many authors, my writing journey didn't begin with a fiery love for books at six. I couldn’t read English at six…or seven or eight. When I moved back to the UK after 3 years in Saudi Arabia, I was in year 4 and at the very bottom of the academic food chain.
Back then it would've been impossible for me to imagine that I would ever be fluent in English enough to get my BA in English Literature with Philosophy and MA in Arabic Literature.
I currently live in the Gulf with my husband and two kids where I spend most of my time blogging, writing fiction and working on breaking into the traditional publishing and self-publishing industries.
Be sure to read more of my work here: https://www.alwiaalhassan.com/