Our emotions can be the root cause of marital conflicts, but when managed properly, they can bring healing and transformation to any marriage relationship. According to Dr. David and Jan Stoop, understanding our emotions, and the emotions of our spouse, is key to having a deeper and more loving marriage. David explains how our emotions can produce either a positive or negative effect.
“It’s not that that anger is a bad emotion; it’s a neutral emotion that can be used to protest, to energize changes in a positive direction. But it could also go in a very negative direction because we hold on to it and it builds and it becomes rage, fury, and those kind of things.”
David highlights four emotions that can cause ongoing conflicts in marriage if they are not dealt with properly: anger, fear, shame and sadness.
“Fear is always movement away from; we want to get away from or we freeze because of a pending danger, so it serves us well in that situation. But we can have a fear-based life where everything we do is operating out of a fear. Shame becomes toxic shame. Sadness becomes melancholy or depression if we hang onto it too long, but there is a sadness in grieving that is important.”
When things go wrong in your marriage, what is your automatic emotional response? Is it anger, fear, sadness, or possibly shame? Jan shares from her personal experience to help us gain insight into our emotional intelligence.
“I have discovered that my basic posture is fear that comes up; it may have come from my childhood, but there’s a lot of investigating that we can do to find out what is it that really comes when things don’t go right? and what do I do with that?”
David elaborates on the importance of identifying our basic emotional posture to gain self-awareness and be able to manage our emotions wisely.
“The first step is to become aware of what we are feeling, self-awareness. The second step is to manage what we’re feeling.”
“If I can identify my basic emotional posture as being one of those four negatives, then that’s where I begin to learn how to manage my emotions, because if I can manage that one, then I can manage the others as well.”
Dr. David Stoop is the founder and director of the Center for Family Therapy. He is the author of more than twenty-five books, including Forgiving the Unforgivable. David and his wife, Jan, have coauthored books and lead worldwide seminars and retreats on topics such as marital relationships, parenting, men’s issues, fathering, and forgiveness.
Dr. Jan Stoop is a counselor, author, and seminar speaker. Together with her husband David, Jan Stoop has written several books including SMART Love. Married for more than fifty years, they have three sons and six grandchildren and live in Newport Beach, California, where David has his counseling practice.Emotional intelligence in marriage