Four skills required to build an Emotional Connection
In my last post Recover From Childhood Neglect I highlighted that those that have a history of childhood emotional neglect might seek out a partner based on that void. I also explained what type of parenting could lead to children growing up with childhood neglect and what effect this could have on the way you choose a partner.
In this post I will focus on the 4 skills that are needed in order to be able to create and develop an emotional connection with someone else. These 4 qualities are often lacking in those with childhood emotional neglect and healing will ultimately include focusing on developing those 4 skills:
- Emotional awareness
- Emotion skills
- Communication skills
Let me explain each of these points, why they are so crucial and how you can improve on them
A lot has been written about emotional intelligence and one of the main factors of emotional intelligence, is emotional awareness. This entails knowing what you are feeling and what your spouse might be feeling. It is having an inner ‘eye’ that can inform you why you might be doing certain things and which emotions are driving you to do these things.
If you see the emotions/feelings as the driving force of life – then understanding what you are feeling and why you are feeling it, is key in managing your own psyche and ultimately your behavior.
If you can understand the why, then you can make more sense of the what. The aim of this, is preventing misunderstandings which is so often part of the challenge within relationships.
If you are emotionally aware, then you can tune in to your partner’s feelings and act accordingly. If he/she seems upset, you can guess why, and approach with curiosity and inquire about it in a compassionate way.
For those that posses these emotion skills, they seem to be very simple but not so for those that suffered from emotional neglect in childhood as described by Jonice Webb in ‘Running on Empty No More‘.
Emotion skill involves being able to identify what you are feeling, manage those feelings and put the feelings into words and adequately express them (See my post on emotional regulation).
Many people feel their emotions first in their bodies; a clench in the stomach, a butterfly, a tightened chest, etc. If you are emotionally skilled, you can identify that and trace it back to what just happened that gave rise to this feeling, name it and tolerate it. In addition, you can check with yourself what this feeling is asking you to do.
This part is really important. You might have figured out what you are feeling and why. Or you have figured out what your partner might be feeling and what led to that.
But how you will communicate that information is crucial. How will you express what you feel and what you need from the other?
Effective communication skills entail:
- Expressing your feelings in a non-blaming way
- Expressing your needs in a non demanding way but rather in a soft request
- Leaving the option open for the partner to explain their side of the story
Marshall Rosenberg developed a method which he called Non-Violent Communication. His best-selling book became very famous due to its simplicity. In a very clear and concise way, Marshall explains how you can identify your own feelings and needs and how to express them.
He puts equal emphasis on how to be a good listener even when your partner is not communicating effectively. I particularly like the tests at the end of each chapter to reinforce his points.
The more you know yourself deeply and the more knowledge you have about your partner, the more chances you have of developing an emotional connection.
I always find it interesting when I get to see couples in distress. They almost always assume that they have great knowledge about their partner (read: judgments). But when it comes to really hearing from them why they think that their partner felt or did something, they are often wrong. See Coping Tools below on how to improve on that.
The coping tool of this post revolves around the last of the 4 qualities which is the Self-Knowledge.
Try to answer the following questions for yourself as well as for your partner. Then check with your partner whether you were right.
- What are you currently most passionate about?
- What are your current unrealized dreams?
- What do you enjoy and what don’t you enjoy?
- What are two of your biggest concerns right now?
- Whom do you like and dislike and why?
- Use 5 adjectives to describe yourself
Now turn these questions round and wherever it says ‘you’, change it for ‘your partner’ and then check how close you were with your answers. Be open to hear adjustments from your partner if you didn’t have it completely correct.
Games like this can really improve your relationship as it helps you to get to know each other better. This way you learn how to avoid triggers for both of you. You also learn how you might play a significant role in helping to honor each others dreams. How can you honor them if you don’t know them or if your information is outdated?
According to Dr Julia Gottman, honoring each other’s dream, is one of the most fundamental factors for a great marriage. See her explain it in this short video:
Improving your emotional connection
If you would like to improve your emotional connection with your spouse then I’d highly recommend Mort Fortell’s Marriage Fitness’ Program. In his program he takes you through 7 steps to fixing your marriage. In his 5 audio downloads, he highlights the problem but very quickly focuses on very practical and simple exercises to do in order to fix your relationship fast.
So have a look at his program. He completely disagrees with the standard marriage counseling style of digging too much into the past and focuses on fixing the behaviors and the mindset that has become stuck over time. After you listened to his powerful suggestions, you also get the choice of working with him one to one if you wish.
I hope you find these resources helpful. Feel free to leave a comment below or email me at email@example.com
To your health,