Emotion Coaching for Couples: Part 2 | How ‘Difficult’ Emotions Can Lead to More Intimacy

Applying Parenting Emotion Coaching to Couples

Part two of a five-part series on shifting your mindset to become a more capable Emotion Coach, and more Emotion Coachable.
Emotionally intelligent couples are more likely to feel connected, supported, and loved in their intimate relationship. And, emotionally intelligent couples are more likely to raise emotionally intelligent children.

Step #2: Recognize emotion as an opportunity for intimacy and connection

For most of us, this step is a major paradigm shift from whatever messages we learned growing up about feelings, and which ones are acceptable or not. It’s easy to see how we connect and are drawn to one another through the easier, more acceptable emotions, such as excitement, joy, zest, curiosity, playful, relaxed and happy. But sad, angry, anxious, embarrassed or scared? Those are often much harder emotions to want to draw closer.

Because the more difficult emotions feel uncomfortable, our natural tendency is to want to make them stop; to shut them down quickly – whether in ourselves or in our partner.

That’s where the dismissive or punitive reactions come into play: “It’s not that big of a deal”. “Don’t worry”. “Knock it off!” “Take it somewhere else!” “Why are you being such a baby about this?” and “Watch me give you something to cry about!”.

Shifting our mindset, we remember that our partner needs us most when she or he is sad, angry or afraid. When we’re able to soothe our loved ones, we feel most connected. We become intimate.

So How Do I Revive the Romance?

Finding Solution Together

Emotion Coaching also recognizes that negative emotions don’t just evaporate. We’ve all had the experience of “difficult” feelings and being unable to shake it off, despite our best efforts of distracting ourselves, talking ourselves out of it, or blasting ourselves with self-criticisms! We must show patience to our loved ones.

Remember, we must learn to convey to our partner that there is a space and time where talking about emotions and labeling them is welcome. When they feel understood, negative feelings will then start to ease up. We make a connection. My partner, he learns that I am his ally and that together we can figure out solutions, and vice versa.

Wise coaches learn to acknowledge low levels of emotion early on, before they escalate to a full-blown crisis – both in themselves and in their partner. Early connections are far more effective than later connections.