When it comes to emotion vs logic, communication in marriage is very important.
Do you ever feel like you are speaking two different languages when you try to communicate with your spouse? Well, you probably are! One of you may be speaking logical language and the other, emotional language. It is a common cause of misfires in expressing yourself and addressing your issues, especially those that are “hot” topics for the two of you. If your searching for real marriage help, you came to teh right place.
Fighting emotion with logic is like bringing a calculator to a knife fight.
– Josh Sundquist
Logic has been called the language of the conscious mind, whereas emotion has been called the language of the unconscious mind. Emotions are our reactions to what we perceive or imagine and are not based upon logic or fact, but on our own personal experiences. Emotions can often override logic. Logic will never change emotion or perception, no matter how hard we may try to reason our way through an issue or conflict. In the words of Sting, “My logic’s been drowned in a sea of emotion.”
Imagine that one of you says, “I think I’ve put on weight. I feel fat.” The other replies, “Well, get on the scales and weigh yourself and then you’ll know. ” That is a perfectly logical reply, but it is a logical reply to an emotional statement and therefore wrong in the context of relationship. What the person making the statement is likely looking for is affirmation, not information. Therefore, an emotional reply is what is needed. A better answer, in that case, would be: “I don’t know what the scales say, but you look beautiful/handsome to me.” Remember, the person is looking for affirmation. That answer was not a lie. It was using emotional language.
Much of our communication is logical as well. Questions like, “Have you seen my keys?”, “Where did you take the car for service?”, or “Which shirt do you think looks best on me?” all require a logical response. Your mate is looking for information, not affirmation. It would not be helpful at all, for instance in the case of the last question, if you were to reply, “Oh, you look so handsome/beautiful in either one”, especially if your mate is trying to make a decision on which one to purchase. They are clearly asking for information on which shirt looks best. In this case, give them the facts!
But how do you know if your mate is needing affirmation or information? Sometimes it will be obvious. At other times, it will definitely not be as clear.
Here’s the rule: Always give affirmation! Your mate may not receive your answer at first and may continue to press you. If you mate persists in trying to get a different response from you, hang in there and don’t go for the logical answer. Simply ask the question, “Do you need information or affirmation?” You’re not a mind reader!
Emotion and logic are not gender specific. In other words, all men are not by default more logical and all women are not by default more emotional.
We all have emotional needs, whether our default “language” is logic or emotion. Here are some examples of the affirmations that we need to hear from each other;
- You can do it
- I’m proud of you
- You’re beautiful/handsome
- I appreciate you
- I support you
- I appreciate how hard you work
- I’m sorry
- Let me take you on a date
- I want you
- I’m here for you
- I value your opinion
- You’re a good man/woman
- I understand. (Or I want to understand)
- I respect your need for (hobby or healthy habit)
- I want you
Look again at the list. Which ones of these do you most want to hear from your mate? Choose your top 3. Now, think about them one at a time and ask yourself the question, “What do I do and/or say when I need this affirmation from my mate?”
For example: “You can do it” is the affirmation that you choose. You might say, “When I need to hear, ‘you can do it’ from my mate, I complain about how hard it is and say things like, “If I make the deadline, it will be a miracle!” Another example might be, when I need to hear “I’m proud of you” from my mate, I bring up the subject of how I was honored for my achievements at work.
Ideally, invite your mate to read this blog and identify their top three emotional affirmations from the list and the words and/or behaviors that they exhibit when they are needing each of their chosen affirmations.
After each affirmation that you identify and share about, have your mate look you in the eyes and say the affirmation. “I’m so proud of you!”, “I want you,” or whatever your desired affirmation is. Tell them how it made you feel to hear that coming from you. Don’t be afraid to use a quick text message as a tool also.
If you and your mate are having difficulty because you “drown in a sea of emotions” when you try to communicate, consider getting marriage help, attending a marriage retreat or enlisting a marriage coach. You can learn to speak each other’s language and communicate better than you ever have before!