Being in a relationship is an emotional, mental, and physical investment in yourself and in your partner. I also strongly believe it is the best way to test, re-test, and grow your emotional intelligence and here is why.
A relationship is a two-way street and a balancing act of give-and-take. In the beginning of the relationship, the need for human connection and a cocktail of neurotransmitters make us much more willing and open to listening and giving. But as the relationship progresses, we start keeping track of how much we give and how much we take. …and that could apply to everything: money, listening, cleaning the home, sex, parenting, time with friends, time with the in-laws…it’s all a balancing act.
This give & take meter is often dependent on how it generally feels to be in that relationship at that particular moment in time. That’s why we have great days, ok days, and crappy days.
It depends on the inexplicable and powerful feeling of connection when we are on the same page and function as one. Conversely, it depends on the amount of tears, frustration, and overwhelming anger that we experience when we are in a fight and our ego plays defense.
Think of mundane things such as:
I multitask and do 30 things in a day for this family, he/she does 3.
I make the money and he/she just spends it without any regard for how hard it is to make it.
I do all the homework, the school activities, the doctors’ appointments with the kids, he/she just comes home and barely does anything with them.
I practice self-care and try to look good, he/she ballooned 40 pounds and couldn’t care less how that affects my attraction level.
I am honest and tell him/her what’s on my mind, but he/she never opens up or feels like talking about important stuff in the relationship.
I want to be intimate, but he/she has no interest and does not care about how it affects my needs.
I’ve been listening to the same boring stories for the last 10 years, but he/she has no interest in giving me time to share my thoughts, feelings, or even daily stories.
Does any of this ring a bell?
They happen to all relationships, but they happen a lot more to some than others.
Nowadays, we process a lot of content in a relationship, thus a relationship has become a catch-all for all of our emotions, thoughts, wishes, and needs.
The dynamic of a modern relationship has evolved a lot in the last 50 year. Today, we put a lot more pressure on our one and only to be our best partner, financial contributor, parent, best friend, sexual partner, and the “man or woman of our dreams” for the next 40 years.
It truly is a lot of pressure on ourselves, on our partners, and on the relationship.
Mental compatibility and physical chemistry do contribute a lot to the success of the relationship, but truly the longevity and the level of satisfaction depend a lot on the following: attachment style, level of emotional intelligence, problem-solving skills, communication skills, and level of commitment.
If you’ve been following my blog posts and my books, you know I am a big fan of attachment styles. Secure styles are ideal in relationships. Insecure styles such as avoidant-dismissive and anxious-preoccupied are usually problematic. If you want to learn more about each one of them, definitely check out the posts below:
Both of these styles often come with difficulties managing our own emotions as well as tolerating and managing other people’s feelings.
How about EI? Emotional Intelligence
As I was diving into these attachment styles and identified myself as a recovering avoidant-dismissive, the concept of emotional intelligence kept popping up on my research radar, to the point where I believe that it’s becoming my answer to many, many things in life, not just those relationship related.
This concept has been slowly developing for a few decades now, and it’s finally claiming a prime spot in modern psychology. Defined as “the capability to recognize our own emotions and those of others, to differentiate between dissimilar feelings and label them appropriately, to use this information to guide thinking and behavior, and to manage emotions to adapt to home or workplace or achieve one's goal,” emotional intelligence is something that everyone can benefit from and consistently improve on.
I got to appreciate the power of emotional intelligence only after I became a mother and I realized that good parenting also involves emotional coaching. My childhood was highly deficient in emotional teachings and as an adult, I started to realize the consequences as I was a dismissive and detached partner, incapable of managing my own emotions during stressful and anxious times, a severely impatient friend and employee, and ultimately an impatient mother. This last one was eye-opening for me as it made it obvious that I was going to repeat generational mistakes. I wasn’t willing to let that happen.
My kids provided me with the motivation to change; my degree in psychology provided me with the knowledge, and my husband provided a stable environment to practice my new skills (by a lot of trial and error). After 12 years of practice and travel on this journey, I am proud to say that I’ve embraced this type of work, although difficult and challenging and never-ending.
But I am proud of the progress I’ve made as a mother and of course, as a therapist. I am passionate about this topic and about helping others see the benefits. That’s why I created a Beginner Course to help get others started on this journey. For more information and to sign up for the Emotional Intelligence for the Whole Family Course, go here.
In addition, if you are more of a visual person, I am having fun and experimenting with a new format for this course. I picked the best nuggets of insight from my course and I am spreading it over 30 days of pins (like this sample pin in this post). Follow me on Pinterest for a great collection of Emotional Intelligence Tips!
And if you are not ready for either, I hope you can take a few minutes and comment below on what your experience has been with emotional intelligence. How would you rate your emotional coaching growing up and how do you think it has affected you as an adult today, in a relationship or at work?
If you are eager and ready to learn how to work with your own emotions and your child’s emotions in order to complete your day-to-day family routine and still like each other at the end of the day---we’re ready for you! Check out my Emotional Intelligence for the Whole Family Course which is a beginner-level program that the whole family can benefit from.
ABOUT: Dr. Ruxandra LeMay is a private practice psychologist in Litchfield Park, Arizona with experience in family therapy, ADHD, stress and anxiety management, and executive coaching. She is the author of My Spouse Wants More Sex Than Me: The 2-Minute Solution For a Happier Marriage. Check out her free resources on effective communication, emotional unavailability, intimacy, and anxiety management, or join her at www.ruxandralemay.com for monthly blog posts.