Emotional Intelligence for Couples: Part 2 Self-Expression

Last time, in our mini-series on EQi for couples, we covered how we see ourselves*. Today we look at the next three sub-scales in the Multi-Health Systems Inc. model. Today we cover self-expression. 

Being clearly aware of how I’m feeling does not always translate to my ability to share those feelings in appropriate ways with others. The three sub-scales in this aspect of emotional intelligence look at healthy self-expression from different angles. 

1) Emotional Expression

First, simply is our ability to demonstrate to others what we are feeling. This is both verbal and through non-verbal means, be that a note, a hug, a gift, etc. (The Five Love Languages comes to mind here). So, I’m aware at some level of a feeling - could be a pleasant feeling or it could be a difficult feeling. This sub-scale is about connection. As a couple, much of the intimacy enjoyed is a result of both parties honestly, genuinely sharing emotions. Obviously we think about expressing love, but sharing of all emotions, in ways that don’t attempt to harm the other person or self, offer opportunity for deepening emotional connection, intimacy. 

So, for this aspect of emotional intelligence to be functioning well, it requires emotional self-awareness. I won’t do well expressing my emotions in a relationship if I don’t clearly even know what I’m feeling. 

Since emotional intimacy really forms strongly here from sharing emotions, how would you like to get better in this area? 

2) Assertiveness

The second in today’s trio is assertiveness. I love defining healthy assertiveness as the ability to know what I’m thinking and feeling and the skill to express that appropriately neither minimizing myself nor harming others. If I err on the side of not talking about things that bother me, I am preventing our relationship from being the best it could be. If I err on the side of pushing for my way, my opinion, my preferences at the expense of clearly hearing and incorporating your opinions I am also preventing our relationship from being healthy. Assertiveness is that happy place in the middle where I fully show up and want you to fully show up. 

Excellent assertiveness by both partners makes for a very rich and fulfilling relationship where you feel seen, heard and understood. Few things in life are better than being truly known and deeply loved. 

If assertiveness was on a scale where -5 = very passive, 0  = perfect assertiveness and +5 = aggressive, where would you put yourself on that scale? 

3) Independence

The third area in self-expression is a measure on how independent we are. This may seem counterintuitive as we discuss EQi for couples but it raises a very important concept. Healthy relationships are a mix of inter-dependence and independence. My ability to be a strong, decision-making independent woman benefits Bill, my husband, in many ways. I own responsibility for my own well-being, I don’t need him to rescue me. The same holds true in reverse. We both enjoy and are not threatened by the level of independence that the other wants. 

Independence is not emotional withdrawal. It is about autonomy. Healthy independence means I’m not relying on someone else for my happiness. I can be happy even if people close to me are struggling. I’m not taken down when they are low. I am still impacted by how friends and family are doing but my functioning is separate. This helps couples a lot - when both parties have some healthy levels of independence one can really hold space and encourage the other when they are struggling without being sucked down the hole with them. 

Do you think your relationship would benefit from you being more or less dependent? 

Until next time, 

Marilyn Orr, The Luv Life Coach

Marilyn Orr, MA, CEC, PCC is a relationship coach with Luv Life Coaching, passionate about equipping couples with the tools for real and lasting intimacy. 

Be proactive in your relationships so you can stay ahead of the problem. Learn how to listen better, handle conflict in productive ways and how to bring out the best in your partner. Grow your Luv Life skills today! 

* "Emotional Intelligence for Couples: Part 1 Self-Perception" 

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