What’s the difference between couples whose marriages remain faithful, upbeat and nourishing (FUN) and those who get stuck in the routine, unhappy and tedious (RUT)?
Current psychological research verifies repeatedly that emotional intelligence (EI) and emotional health (EH) have a direct effect on maintaining quality FUN relationships. The following three potent secrets discovered in EI and EH research studies have a strong tendency to super-charge a relationship.
Take self-talk to the next level
Before we say anything to others, we have said something to ourselves. Self-talk is an essential part of inter-personal communication, particularly with our mates.
To take positive self-talk to the next level, advance emotional health, and significantly improve your relationship, consider the following insights.
Self-talk becomes far more valuable when engaged as ‘self-explanation’. Quality self-talk happens when we insist on explaining things to ourselves before we make the inner decision (judgment). This increases the value and benefit of our decision, and greatly affects our emotions.
Read this statement several times: Inner decisions dominate our emotions. Quick judgments without good understanding are emotional thought-bombs causing negative inner feelings and relationship battles. If intense enough, they become weapons of marriage destruction (WMD’s).
How can we avoid making those nasty quick inner judgments? Develop curiosity by asking ‘How?’ Inwardly we ask ourselves, ‘How did she/he come to that conclusion?’ More often than not there’s a reasonable explanation we are not aware of. Keep in mind that their answers may seem perfectly reasonable to them, but not clear to you. That’s a special opportunity to learn more about one another and spend time making up.
Taking self-talk to the next level by asking “how?” before making judgments can greatly increase emotional stability in marriage. Let’s discover another important gem from research.
Regularly practice two step re-minding
Without exception, every person has weaknesses. In real life, we go through relationship seasons where things are so wonderful we can hardly see the other’s shortcomings. And then there are times when we wonder how we could have ever liked ‘that person.’
This is where we need to regularly practice the two step process of re-minding. First, we re-mind our self why we originally fell in love with our mate, reconstructing a good memory. Then we take the next step; re-mind him or her also! The most powerful part of two-step re-minding is when both individuals regularly take this step together in advance of a problem. It’s like multiple shots of adrenalin pumped into the relationship.
This habit of two step re-minding improves emotional health by catching the encouraging and avoiding the discouraging. Every soaring eagle knows that flying high in the sky vs. plummeting to the ground depends completely on continually choosing up-currents and avoiding down-drafts.
Now, let’s catch one more key for maintaining emotional health in our relationships.
Determine to help your mate’s emotional health
You say, “But I’m the one hurting here! What about my emotional healthiness in this relationship?”
That’s the point.
Personal emotional health relies heavily on inner focus. If we have a focus on self, it depresses and suppresses our emotions. If we have an outward focus on someone else, it encourages and helps improve our own inner feelings.
Isn’t there a wonderful shot of positive emotional energy when we help someone? Yes! We reap what we sow. So, sow! When a farmer focuses on sowing and sowing and sowing, eventually he reaps and reaps and reaps.
By purposely attempting to help our mate’s positive emotional health, we are steering clear of feeding our self with bad thoughts. If we can motivate our mate to do the same, both are trying to help the other. Imagine the constantly improving and amazingly transformed relationship you always wished for. What a day that will be!
Use these three insights to keep your relationship FUN (faithful, upbeat and nourishing). First, take your self-talk to the next level with self-explanation. Second, regularly practice two step re-minding before problems happen. Third, find ways to help your mate develop stronger emotional health. You’ve got it!
Deborah Wiles, director of academics at Trinity International University, also contributed to this article. Steve Davis and Deborah Wiles are adjunct professors at Trinity International University where Steve teaches adult development and writing.