TEN ABILITIES SHARED BY EMOTIONALLY HEALTHY PEOPLE
How is your emotional health? That’s an important question for married couples, because emotional health determines how you relate to others. Your marriage will grow to your level of emotional health. It will never expand beyond it.
I believe there are ten abilities shared by emotionally healthy people. They should be able to do the following things within marriage:
Openly express physical and verbal affection to a spouse’s satisfaction. My father didn’t show me physical affection until I was 38 years old, and it took a toll on my marriage. Until God healed me of those scars, I couldn’t be affectionate—verbally or physically—to Karen. Our relationship was a wreck.
Empathize with others and focus on their needs and desires, especially those of a spouse. Healthy individuals think about others and can put themselves in someone else’s shoes. When you’re not well emotionally, you think about yourself all the time.
Honestly and openly communicate in a gracious manner. Emotionally healthy people can talk about their feelings. Communication is vital to relationships, and nothing—not even embarrassment or discomfort—prevents them from sharing.
Complain to or confront a spouse in a timely and gracious manner. This does not mean being passive-aggressive, refusing to communicate, or erupting in rage. Nor does it mean bottling up dissatisfaction or becoming withdrawn. It means talking through issues calmly and directly.
Receive complaints, correction, and input in a gracious manner. Some people become defensive or hostile when faced with correction or even questioning. Emotionally healthy people are open to input from others.
Take responsibility for their behavior. The ability to say “I’m sorry” with sincerity and grace is crucial to a healthy marriage. It’s something I refused to do for the first six years of my relationship with Karen. I couldn’t be wrong. That’s a hallmark of bad emotional health, and it led us to the brink of divorce.
Serve others without expecting something in return. Emotionally healthy people can practice generosity without requiring reciprocation. Unhealthy people won’t give unless they know the recipient will give back.
Process anger, offenses, and disappointments in a timely and gracious manner. Bad things happen. We are imperfect people in an imperfect world. We will experience negative emotions, but we have to be able to work through them rather than stewing on them. Unhealthy people can’t let go.
Be vulnerable without fear or shame. I used to refuse to pray with Karen because it meant revealing my weaknesses. I was macho and couldn’t admit when I needed help. Emotionally healthy people are open about their failures.
Be joyful and faith-filled in the midst of difficult circumstances. An emotionally healthy person sees the good in situations and in people. They say, “God is a big God, and we’re going to get through this.” They don’t get cynical, fatalistic or depressed.
How about you? Can you relate to these ten abilities? If not, you may have emotional scars that can negatively impact your relationship with others—especially your husband or wife.
The good news is that the Holy Spirit is powerful and can repair the damage inside us, if only you’ll let Him. Invite Him in, give Him permission to heal your heart, and watch your marriage begin to flourish.