An emotionally intelligent husband knows when to accept influence from his wife. By accepting her influence, he increases the chances that he and his wife will share a long, happy marriage.
Emotional intelligence is measured by two components. It begins with a person’s ability to recognize, understand and manage his or her own emotions. With this foundation, an emotionally intelligent individual is also able to recognize, understand, and positively influence another person’s emotions.
Psychologist and marriage researcher John Gottman has observed thousands of couples in over 30 years of research. In his work, only 35 percent of husbands demonstrated emotional intelligence. An emotionally intelligent husband is able to understand, honor and respect his wife better than the average male. Gottman indicates that this is achieved by knowing when to accept her influence.
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Most women appear to be adept at accepting influence from their husbands. Women tend to be better in touch with their emotions than men. It appears they were designed this way. As wives, they tend to take their husband’s opinions and emotions into consideration in their decision-making — they do this more often than the men to whom they’re married.
A husband who accepts his wife’s influence takes her opinions and emotions into consideration in his decision-making. He is not afraid to share power in their relationship by partnering with her. This is in contrast to a husband who refuses to share power by brushing aside or overruling his wife’s interests. Husbands who do not share power have an 81 percent chance that their marriage will not last, according to Gottman’s research.
Men who want to increase their emotional intelligence can do the following, adapted from Travis Bradberry’s best-seller, “Emotional Intelligence 2.0”:
1.) Increase self-awareness. Notice your typical emotional response to specific situations that occur in your marriage. Label these emotions.
Figure out where they come from, and why they are there. Consider whether these emotions are well-matched to these situations, or are fueled by past events that may have no connection to the current situation. Find the courage to discover and acknowledge situations where you tend to over- or underreact. Journaling, or talking with your spouse, a trusted friend or counselor about your emotional reactions can help increase your self-awareness.
2.) Improve self-management. Building on increased self-awareness, self-management refers to your ability to manage your response to your different emotions. Self-management means stepping back to see how you’re responding to a situation and then making a choice about how to act going forward. Will you move in the direction your emotions are pushing you or to take a path that leads you toward a greater goal?
For example, you may feel angry that your wife doesn’t agree with your recommendation on where to go on vacation, but rather than insist on doing things your way, you adjust your recommendation to include her input.
3.) Develop social awareness. Use your ability to listen and observe to recognize your wife’s emotions. Her emotional response to specific situations will often be different from yours.
Many conflicts begin on the assumption that your spouse feels, or should feel, the same way you do. Notice and respect your wife’s unique perspective.
Make positive changes in how you speak and act toward your wife.
4.) Manage your relationship. Use your increased self-awareness, improved self-management, and social awareness to forge a stronger connection to your wife. As you discover what makes her tick, use that knowledge to make positive changes in how you speak and act toward her when expressing your love, and in times of conflict.
Jon Beaty, counselor and father of two, lives near Portland, Oregon. He’s the author of the book “If You’re Not Growing, You’re Dying: 7 Habits for Thriving in Your Faith, Relationships and Work.”