How to Help Love by Responding to Negativity with Emotional Intelligence
Love definitely needs help. Let’s admit that Love has a problem. Conflict ends half of the marriages, sending once-loving couples to divorce court. And these are the people who wowed each other, who exchanged sacred vows, and who often suffered for years as they tried to stay together because of the kids. Sadly, sometimes couples spend tens of thousands of dollars on weddings only to outspend themselves on divorce. And there are also millions of couples who never get to tie the knot because of conflict, but who could have been happy together if they could get along.
But Love’s problem is broader than that. Let’s say John and Mary are married and always disagree about money. If John was married to Nancy, they might agree about money, but they would disagree about something else, i.e. how closely Nancy’s parents should be involved in John and Nancy’s lives. And if Mary was married to Robert, they might agree about money but would disagree about parenting. The goal is not to be a couple who agree on everything and disagree on nothing–this doesn’t happen. The goal is to find a better way to disagree–to try to understand each other, to actively keep negativity out of the relationship, to bar negativity from infecting the relationship.
Some struggling couples hope to get divorced and have better luck in the second marriage. Research shows that Love is even less successful at keeping a couple together in the second and subsequent marriages–only one-third of the times. So, the best strategy is to unlearn the habits that sabotage your relationship today and let your current relationship grow stronger and bloom.
But Love is not hopeless. Love can triumph because the problem is not that these two particular lovers are star-crossed. First, there are no star-crossed lovers. People who are attracted to each other and want to be together can always learn to resolve or live with and laugh together at their differences. Second, no one has a soulmate out there, the love with whom will be beautiful and effortless.
The problem is negativity. People fall in love, but problems come up, and people start blaming each other and fighting with each other instead of blaming the problems and working together against the problems. Negativity floods the relationship. The negativity pushes love aside–out of view, chills the friendship, and spooks intimacy. Resentment and distance grow like a snowball that’s rolling down the ski slope. Unless something is done, partners will keep wounding each other with words and actions or with silence and inaction and, eventually, the marriage will be over. But if you approach the situation with emotional intelligence, you can make that snowball of negativity shrink as it rolls uphill.
Emotional intelligence is the key to having a good relationship and a good marriage. Read about it here: Emotional Intelligence for Lovers.