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Emotional Intelligence for Couples: Part 4 Decision Making

If you have been following along recently, this is blog 4 of 5 on emotional intelligence for couples. (The model is from https://www.mhs.com/MHS-Talent?prodname=eq2 - Individual assessments and couple work is available if that appeals.) 

If you are getting the feeling that great, healthy, lasting life partnerships don’t just happen then I have done my job! 

Today’s sub-section in the broad topic of emotional intelligence is decision-making. This topic likely represents one of the most impactful areas on the well-being or dysfunction that a couple experiences. However it is not one we talk about usually in this way. 

We say that money is the issue or sex or career. Here’s a great example of the list of things that can lead to relationship breakdown: 

https://www.liveabout.com/marital-problems-that-cause-divorce-1102945 

Underlying many of those areas of conflict and stress is often poor decision making or very different types of decision-making patterns between partners. 

1. Problem Solving.

The first sub-scale in today’s trio is the over-arching category of solving problems and making decisions. In this context of emotional intelligence it is about being able to make good, sound decisions when they are also emotional. This does not mean being able to take the emotion out of decisions and focusing only on thinking. It requires an understanding of the emotions of both parties and weighting them properly along with the “logical” facts. 

For example, my budget might be really tight but it may be still the best decision to fly to be with a dear friend in a time of need. Logic may dictate one thing but the emotions and emotional needs for relationship lead to a different conclusion. 

As a couple, which of you is better at solving problems considering emotions as well as cold hard facts? 

How can you work together to incorporate the acknowledgment of emotions more often? 

2. Testing Reality.

This second skill balances what we just talked about. Especially when a decision is emotional it can be difficult to wade through the emotional messages to get to a wise and more objective choice. 

This happens all the time in life. We often don’t even know that we are making a decision that is influenced by our experiences, emotions, insecurities, etc. The beauty of having a great life partner is that usually where one person may have blind spots the other doesn’t. Certain things are more emotional for me and I’m less likely to be able to be as objective as need be in those areas. The same is true for Bill (my husband) but often in different areas or at different times. 

The other key here for couples is to help each other recognize when a decision is emotionally influenced for both of them. These are times to build in some time or bring in a third party that can help you test the decision making process. (E.g. couples’ coach, trusted friend, etc.) 

3. Controlling Your Reactions. 

It is unfortunate, in my opinion, that we have equated “Decisive” with fast decision making in our society. We tout this as a good thing and sometimes it really is. Some environments or circumstances require fast decisions and immediate action. First responders for example, need this ability to make split-second decisions and move to action. 

The problems occur when we do not put a pause between doing the first thing that comes to mind and a well-thought-through decision. Controlling that impulsive action or reaction and gathering more facts, including relevant emotions, makes for better decisions. It also makes for much better relationships and less stressful circumstances. 

If we apply this skill, or lack of it, to shopping as an example we can see the problem clearly. I may feel emotional about an item I want to buy. It may feel symbolic or may feel like the thing we need to “feel better” about ourselves. 

The other day I was in a clothing store and overheard a young (7 years old or so) boy say this to his mother: “Can you buy something to cheer me up?”. (Say this as if you are Eeyore the donkey!) 

Shocking that at his young age he had this connection firmly in place. Sad too. 

This can also be an area where low skill by one person can mean social decisions are made too that impact the other person. “Honey, I’ve invited people over for dinner tonight!” may not go over well. 

Joint decision making is just respectful when the decision affects you both. 

In your partnership which one of you is more likely to be impulsive? 

Are there safeguards you can operate with together that can limit the negative impact that this could have on your relationship? On your budget? 

Happy Communication!!! 

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. Reach Out to Marilyn and grow your Luv Life skills today!

Subscribe to Marilyn’s “Luv Life Blog” for twice monthly relationship advice and love life guidance blog posts straight to your inbox: http://ow.ly/i0FJ30eNj3x

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