The secret to a happy, healthy relationship is more than just a vague desire, but a social balance that has been tested and analyzed by experts for decades. Studies show a strong correlation between couples’ emotional intelligence and marital satisfaction, meaning that the outcome of your relationship might have a scientific explanation. The recipe for lifelong happiness for couples is not definite, but specialists say that there are ways to know whether your partner has the emotional intelligence that might help the long-term health of your relationship. Keep in mind that relationships are a two-way street, so it is equally important for you to look within yourself and ask what else you can do to be sure you are giving your partner your best self. Below are four key signs of high emotional intelligence according to Harvard psychology researcher Daniel Goleman, and how they might appear in a relationship.
Self-awareness is the capacity to tune into your own emotions, allowing you to know what you are feeling and why, as well as how those feelings help or hurt others. This is crucial in relationships because people who are self-aware are able to acknowledge their shortcomings, and therefore think more clearly about how they might affect their partner. According to Goleman, self-awareness also means that you have clarity on your values and sense of purpose, which allows you to be more decisive when taking action and solving problems.
Goleman defines self-management as “the ability to keep disruptive emotions and impulses under control.” This can include emotional self control, which means the ability to stay calm even in the face of adversity. People who are able to self-manage understand the importance of balancing emotions for the good of themselves or others. Remember that there is a difference between masking difficult emotions, and learning how to manage them in a healthy way.
Social awareness “indicates accuracy in reading and interpreting other people’s emotions, often through non-verbal cues,” according to Goleman. People who are socially aware are able to relate to many different types of people, listen to them, and communicate effectively. One of the hallmarks of a healthy relationship is empathy from both sides, which means the ability and willingness to pay full attention to your partner and put yourself in their shoes, metaphorically speaking.
Goleman writes that relationship management is the skill set which allows a relationship between people to be maintained. One key to the management of a relationship is the ability for both parties to address disagreements head-on rather than allowing them to stew below the surface. This allows the couple to talk through their conflict and find a solution that works for them both, rather than waiting until a fight breaks out.
If you identify problems with any of the above emotional-intelligence factors in your partner or yourself, understand that no person or relationship is perfect, and that there are ways to overcome even deep-rooted problems and make a better life for you both. No one likes confrontation, especially with someone they love, but it’s better to acknowledge problems in the relationship as they arise rather than brush them under the rug and hope they go away. It only means that you care about the relationship and making it work. If you are with the right person, they will be willing to listen and put in the effort to work through your problems as a team.
This article references research from the above-mentioned articles on emotional intelligence. Comments on how such research can be evidenced in relationships are the opinion of the author.