Build a Strong Emotional Connection with Your Spouse
- Monday, April 12, 2004
• Expand your emotional base. Strive to understand the emotions that lie beneath the emotions you and your spouse express, so you'll know how to more clearly bring the real issues to the forefront of your discussions. Acknowledge each other's different emotional temperaments, respect the way you each feel and the ways you each express emotions, and focus on your feelings during an argument instead of the details of what you're fighting about. Use self-control when expressing your emotions by understanding them before expressing them. Listen gently to your spouse, trying to discern what's in his or her heart. Use a tone of voice and body language that communicates respect for your spouse.
• Argue effectively. Make sure your goal is to work toward a solution. Avoid defending yourself or blaming your spouse. Strive to understand your spouse's perspective on the issue and to clearly communicate yours. Respect your spouse's perspective, even if you don't agree with it. Ask questions to clarify what you heard until your spouse agrees that you heard him or her correctly. Be willing to be influenced and to do things differently. Believe that change is possible, no matter what your situation, because all things are possible with God. Persevere through setbacks. Speak words of kindness to each other, and support each other as you each try to change.
• Pursue healing. Honestly ask your spouse how he or she has hurt you, without criticizing your spouse's character or highlighting his or her faults. Listen as your spouse shares how you have hurt him or her. Strive to understand the significance of the hurt. Express your emotions. Discuss how the hurtful event happened - what you did and why you did it. Understand the perspective of the spouse who hurt the other. Take responsibility for hurting your spouse. Ask for comfort and reassurance. Forgive. Commit to being available to your spouse in the future.
Adapted from Safe Haven Marriage, copyright 2003 by Dr. Archibald D. Hart and Dr. Sharon Hart Morris. Published by W Publishing Group, a division of Thomas Nelson, Inc., Nashville, Tn., www.wpublishinggroup.com.
Dr. Archibald D. Hart specializes in psychotherapy from a Christian orientation and lectures widely to church groups and ministers on topics of stress management and how to handle emotions from a biblical perspective. He is professor of psychology and Dean Emeritus of Fuller Graduate School of Psychology, Fuller Theological Seminary. He also serves as the Executive Editor and Director of International Relations for the American Association of Christian Counselors. Dr. Hart is also an internationally known speaker and author, whose books include Adrenalin and Stress, Children and Divorce, The Sexual Man, and The Anxiety Cure.
Dr. Sharon Hart Morris is the cofounder and director of the Marriage, Family, and Relationship Institute at La Vie Counseling Center in Pasadena, Ca. She received her Ph.D. degree in marriage and family therapy from Fuller Graduate School of Psychology. She is the author of numerous articles and chapters in books on relationships, and an expert in emotionally focused therapy, as well as contributing editor for Marriage and Family: A Christian Journal. Dr. Morris teaches internationally and contributes regularly to both broadcast and print media.
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