Raising the Emotional Intelligence of Your Marriage

What is emotional intelligence?

Emotional intelligence (EQ) is the ability to identify, use, understand, and manage your emotions in positive and constructive ways. It's about recognizing your own emotional state and the emotional states of others.

Raising your emotional intelligence by engaging your emotions

When you become overwhelmed by stress, the emotional parts of your brain override the rational parts—hijacking your best-laid plans, intentions, and strategies. In order to permanently change behavior in ways that stand up under pressure, you need to learn how to take advantage of the powerful emotional parts of the brain that remain active and accessible even in times of stress. This means that you have to learn the skills on a deeper, emotional level—experiencing and practicing them in your everyday life.

Emotional intelligence consists of four core abilities

  1. Self-awareness – The ability to recognize your own emotions and how they affect your thoughts and behavior, and to know your strengths and weaknesses.
  2. Self-management – The ability to control impulsive feelings and behaviors, manage your emotions in healthy ways, take initiative, follow through on commitments, and adapt to changing circumstances.
  3. Social awareness – The ability to understand the emotions, needs, and concerns of other people, pick up on emotional cues, and recognize interpersonal power dynamics.
  4. Relationship management – The ability to develop and maintain healthy relationships, communicate clearly, inspire and influence others, manage conflict, and work well in a team.

How to raise your emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence is not learned in the standard intellectual way; it must be learned and understood on an emotional level. In order to learn about emotional intelligence in a way that produces change, we need to engage the emotional parts of the brain in ways that connect us to others. This kind of learning is based on what we see, hear, and feel, and depends on sensory, nonverbal learning and real-life practice.

Developing emotional intelligence through five key skills, each building on the last

The ability to:

  • quickly reduce stress
  • recognize and manage your emotions
  • connect with others using nonverbal communication
  • use humor and play to deal with challenges
  • resolve conflicts positively and with confidence

An excellent resource to learn more about raising the emotional intelligence (EQ) of your marriage is the book by Art and Laraine Bennett "The Emotions God Gave You: A Guide for Catholics to Healthy and Holy Living".

David Grobbel, L.M.S.W.
Associate Director, Marriage and Family
Archdiocese of Detroit

Portions of article excerpt reprinted with permission from Helpguide.org © 2001-2010. All rights reserved.