Emotional intelligence

(David Roeder) #1

Hello fellow alumni! This is my first topic submission, so we’ll see how this goes.
I was just thinking about the call for husbands to dwell with their wives with understanding. Would secular psychology call this emotional intelligence?
I think a biblical worldview should have a robust answer for this, since God is intimately aware and caring at the emotional level, and we are created in His image.
I personally struggle sometimes with meeting my wife’s emotional needs, even when she gives me huge hints like, “I need a hug.” After 43 years together, you would think I could have improved, and maybe I have, but I still feel too selfish, or maybe too self-protective to allow my emotions to come alongside hers.
That should get the ball rolling. I’m opening wide my heart!
Thanks for listening,

(SeanO) #2

@kardiaccny Great question! Thank you for posting that - I think I will learn a lot from the other responses as well.

My take on this issue is that we should not worry about our feelings - but rather, as King David did, preach love to our hearts - exhort our hearts to feel - while we do what we know is right. Almost like acting except with one key difference - we are doing are best with God’s help to exhort our hearts to feel as we know they ought.

C. S. Lewis said the following about trying to love your neighbor when you do not feel love:

“Do not waste time bothering whether you ‘love’ your neighbor; act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him.” - C. S. Lewis

And here we see King David preaching to his own heart to praise the Lord - praise the Lord - rejoice!

“Praise the LORD, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.” - Psalms 103:1

So my first response would be to do what you know you need to to love your wife - help her with the dishes and give her hugs more often - even if you do not feel it - and exhort your heart by God’s grace to come along for the ride.

My second response would be that feelings are sometimes located within the heart of an individual - so it is very difficult for us to feel the exact same thing.

Proverbs 14:10 - “Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can share its joy.”

That being the case, I believe we can still “Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep” even if we cannot fully feel what they are feeling. Sometimes feelings are a person’s own and we can simply do our best to come alongside them.

On a more practical note - sometimes we express love differently than our spouse. And in order for our spouse to ‘feel’ loved we need to express it in the same language they express it in. You are probably already well aware of Gary Chapman’s Five Love Languages, but I went ahead and included a link below. He lists the five love languages as “words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time and physical touch”. So a good question to ask may be - what are my spouses’ main love languages? And try to speak those more often.


It is encouraging to hear your devotion to your family and your earnest desire to come alongside them. May God grant us all grace and wisdom to love those nearest to us in a way that they can understand.

(Andrew Bulin) #3

As a guy, sometimes I like to pride myself in just how much I can rough it. But then my wife called me to task once with Ephesians 5:25-33, particularly verse 28:

So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself

Now, my wife was not asking me to indulge in personal hedonism or anything. But it did bring to light that I may have been letting her suffer through my objective goals to just “rough it.” It helped me to contemplate more how I could be meeting her specific needs. :grin:

(Jennifer Judson) #4

I think you are spot on that emotional intelligence is how the secular world would phrase it.

Sean and Andrew bring up good points and great advice.

As a woman I will point out that men and women process emotions and awareness of others emotions differently. Even then we are all on a broad spectrum. Emotional maturity goes hand in hand with spiritual maturity in my eyes. We allow ourselves to get hurt and defensive when others do not understand how we feel. This shows an area where probably both parties need to mature emotionally for their individual spiritual wholeness and wellbeing and for the sake of the other, especially in a marriage.

Let’s take circumstances ”X.” The way men tend to approach ”X” is to find a solution to ”X”, fix it, check it off the list and move on to ”Y”. Women tend to want to understand ”X” so they can relate to ”X” better and determine how to process ”X” so that ”X” can be integrated into their life experience. (Overstated intentionally).

So when man comes along and solves ”X”, woman is deprived of her need to process ”X”. Thus the challenge in men and women understanding each other. Gary Smalley has some great relationship information on the keys to understanding this.

There are times when men need to recognize what the woman needs, just come along side her and hold her as encouragement—don’t offer solutions, just be present in the moment. Because honestly many things just can’t be fixed. They need time in prayer for the HS to guide you to the Godly context for it. This is where men can learn from women.

There are also times when women need to see a man’s need for resolution and to be able to move forward rather than dwelling in ”X”. When that doesn’t happen it can be like a wound that’s not allowed to heal.

We are wise when we allow the HS to lead us to what God would have us learn in the midst of ”X” always maintaining an eternal perspective. It was a hard lesson in my life to learn that being right pales in comparison to be loving. I was stuck on that one a long time.

My go to prayer now is “in the midst of this what would you have me learn”. That helps me mature emotionally—I’m processing my feelings so that they become a better tool in being empathetic to others but no longer being ruled by them (feelings).

I think the church is uniquely equipped to help people mature emotionally because it can point to the right context (a Godly life conformed to the image of Christ) and purpose (for the sake of others). I agree this is a tremendous area where we can engage the world.