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Understanding Your Spouse’s Emotions (Part 2 of 2)

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
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June 18, 2024 7:05 am

Understanding Your Spouse’s Emotions (Part 2 of 2)

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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June 18, 2024 7:05 am

Drs. David and Jan Stoop discuss the concept of emotional intelligence; the ability to understand your emotions, as well as your spouse's. The Stoops explain how bettering that understanding can help you improve and strengthen your marriage. (Part 2 of 2)


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She might come to bed and say, are you going to pray?

And I say, nope, because I'm still mad. She said, well, I am. And she would pray by the time she was done praying, my heart had softened and I prayed. Today we're hearing more from a classic conversation with late Dr. David Stup and his wife, Dr. Jan Stup. Welcome to Focus on the Family with Jim Daly.

I'm John Fuller. I find it fascinating, John, that the Bible is full of emotion and emotional people. Just read a couple pages from the book of Psalms. You'll see displays of frustration, grief, anger, and joy. God gave us feelings for a reason, but although it's not good to suppress our emotions, we also can't let our feelings harden our hearts or control us. Last time we shared a great conversation about how God wired us emotionally and how we need to understand what our guests call the BEP, Basic Emotional Posture.

From there we can trace our feelings back to their original source and use that to figure out why we say the things that we say and regret those things that we say, especially to our spouse. Because, let's be honest, we've all done that at one time or another. I probably do it too often, that's for sure. Maybe except you. I'm guilty too.

Boy, all the time. I really am going to be listening in closely as we revisit this content from Dave and Jan Stup. I think it's going to help me improve my emotional intelligence some. By the way, we took the smart assessment last time and we talked a little bit about that. If you missed the last part of the conversation, find it on our website or download our free mobile app.

It's a great way to access the archives and listen anytime you want. Also, as we mentioned last time, Jan Stup is a counselor and a leader of marriage retreats. She used to do those at one time together with her husband, the late Dr. David Stup. Together they wrote the book, The Emotionally Healthy Marriage, Growing Closer by Understanding Each Other. Along the way in this conversation you might hear us refer to the former title, Smart Love. We do have the newest copy of that book available here at the ministry.

Get in touch for your copy. We've got all the details in the show notes. All right, here's the second part of our conversation with the Stoops, which first aired a number of years ago on Focus on the Family. Last time we talked about the SMART acronym. You mentioned these emotions, the BEP, that we briefly talked about.

Let's recap for folks very quickly the SMART acronym and your BEP. The S stands for self-aware of my own emotions. I've got to be aware of what I'm feeling, at least after the fact, as a beginning point, and then in the midst of it so that I can grab hold of it and begin to manage it.

I was going to say, okay, ladies, so you're all saying, or many of you are saying, that's my husband. He doesn't understand. He's got no self-awareness. Self-awareness is the key.

They're sticking with us the rest of the way, I guarantee it. Don't be so quick to point your finger at him because there's three others pointing back at you. So that's the S of SMART than M. M is to manage my emotions, and I don't want to be controlled by them.

I want to be able to control my emotions in a healthy way. A is accountability. I'm being accountable to myself. I'm being accountable to my spouse, and I'm being accountable to other couples. I think that's extremely important that we have other couples in our lives that know us and pray for us and share with us and care for us.

It's a good thing to do. Okay, so we've got SMA. SMA and R is reading the other person, reading your spouse's emotions, which is empathy. I'm resonating with this one. I think this might be my weak link. I think sometimes I'm driving so hard I'm not.

Was it a low point on your chart? I'll have to go back to my test. Oh, no, we have Gene on the line right now. No, we don't. Hang up, hang up, hang up. So that's reading your spouse, understanding your spouse. Their emotions. Okay, guys, come on.

You've got to be there with me. I mean, this is not something that's natural. Well, the other word there is to build empathy so I can understand what they're feeling is a good thing. Neither the R or the T are easy to do, but they become easier as you develop the skills of the S and the M. Okay, so it kind of flows together like a river, gains a little more momentum. So what's the T? The T is together in the land of emotions. We're comfortable with each other emotionally.

Enough to be in that world together. So let's get to the manage, the M of SMART, managing your emotions. Why is this war going on in our brains between the emotional part of us and the rational part of us? Because if you think about it, who doesn't want that better marriage?

Maybe not perfect marriage, but all the attributes you just talked about. It would be rational for us to aim for that, so we wouldn't use anger toward our spouse or shame or whatever it might be. Our rational brain is often subject to the emotional brain.

Yeah, that's scary, isn't it? And that's scary because we haven't, and managing my emotions means I've got to develop my rational side of my brain. When we've been wounded as kids, when we've adopted a basic emotional posture of anger or fear or shame or sadness, that's giving precedence to the emotional brain.

You give power to that. You give power to it, and you depower the rational brain, so you've got to activate the rational brain. So there's a language for each of those four negative emotions. The language of anger is I should, you should, or you shouldn't, or you should, or I shouldn't. The demand that I make on a situation, it's like somebody cuts you off on the freeway, and we get angry because they shouldn't have done that.

Well, they already did it, so it's irrational. Gosh, you're just going right at my weak spot. What are you doing? Are we in a session here?

Do I have to pay you money? No. That's good. I mean, that's exactly right. What else can be done? Pray for the guy. Yeah, and then there's sometimes somebody cuts you off, and you don't even notice it because your mind is somewhere else, and you're thinking of something else, and you just automatically tap the grate and go on. It's like whatever.

Yeah. The language of fear is what if, and what if this happened? What if that happens? And I always say if you're going to what if the negative, you have to what if the positive, because only God controls the future. You can't control the future by what if-ing it. So you're talking about the possibility of the deal falling through. Well, you've got to say, well, but what if the deal stays together and succeeds? Yeah. You've got to what if both sides?

Yeah. And then the language of shame and sadness is the same as if only. If only this had happened. The regret. And the living in the regrets. Constantly, though, like a vicious circle, right?

It just keeps going. So if you can identify the language of the emotion, you can begin to manage the language. Like the woman who was so angry that charred my door frame as she walked in the office. You know, I gave her an assignment to make a list of all the things she was angry about.

I said, get an eight and a half by eleven sheet and make three columns. And the first column lists all the things you're angry about. Well, she came up with 27 pages. 27 pages? Of things she's angry about.

I feel sorry for you guys. No wonder she scorched the sign walking in your door. And I said, now, in the middle one, you've got to get all of what are the demands you're making. And that's the language she uses, you know. So she says, well, when you come home from work, and he had a pretty high level job, and you see the table set, the candles are lit, the kids are in bed, you should know I want some time with you. Instead, you get up from the dinner and say thanks and go to the office and continue working. So that's the should. That's the should. Then I said, third column, you've got to restate it as a desire, as a wish, as a want.

I want you to spend some time with me. And he's over here making notes. He says, well, I'll remember that next time. He probably never thought of it.

Never thought of it. Well, Jan, I want to pull you into that, because, again, the language between male and female can be as different as Chinese is from English. That's right. So how do you teach young women, and women of all ages, to better communicate with their husbands that don't speak their language? Yeah, but that thing of changing the language to the wants or desires, it's a mind-blower about how that is heard by your mate. And it changes their ability to hear you. So if I'm in my fearful posture, I could say, you know, why are you throwing that away?

I want that because I have a plan for that. What if you're throwing away something that's important to me? Yeah, what if you're throwing it? But if I can say I'm bothered by that, but that's okay because I have asked you for help in that area, something like that.

But it diffuses it. But, you know, a big part of what the women really, really struggle with is criticism. So we have that thing that we can turn anything into a critical statement. Well, and that's the shame part, correct?

And women do it more than men. Yeah. It's been proven.

Let's ask Jan and me. Okay, no. I mean, that can happen. But that's because they want things to change and get better. Correct.

They're desperate, and they're using that tactic in order to hopefully evoke change, right? So that's the language of shame. Would that be fair? Right, right. To describe it that way?

Well, they would trigger anger, too, in the recipient. What does that language of shame sound like in the marriage? Just role play a little bit for us.

What does that sound like between a couple? A shame? Oh, wow. You should have worn that shirt. You should have worn the other shirt? No, anything I say that can be critical can put a shame.

I can take it as shame. So you say to me sometimes, I come downstairs, are you going to wear that shirt? And I think, well, I wouldn't have put it on if I wasn't going to wear it.

Pretty straightforward. I have a friend who has a situation like that. And then she may even remind me, well, you told me to tell you when things didn't match, you know. But what she – criticism is always an indirect way to ask for something. And if she had said to me, you shouldn't wear that shirt with those pants.

They don't go together. I'd say, oh, okay. Because that was a clear statement. So there's a shaming in and there's a trigger point for anger for the statement, are you going to wear that shirt? Anything critical, yeah. Because I'm thinking, you think I'm stupid.

I don't know how to put a shirt on. Well, and what's sad is these little paper cuts is what derails a marriage. That's right. It's not necessarily the big thing, whatever that might be, but it's this kind of stuff constantly. And many of them are critical remarks that we make to each other.

Right. And it goes both ways. You want to stand up for the ladies too because men can be critical and sharp and cutting and dismissive. Many women in the seminar will say, he's the one that does the criticism because I can't live up to his demands.

Yeah. But it's difficult. But women are fighting it too. They're fighting it every way to try to figure out how can we get the kind of relationship we really want without ever having to demand.

So I take away the demands. You're listening to Focus on the Family with Jim Daly, and that's Dr. Jan Stoup along with her husband, Dr. David Stoup. And their book is The Emotionally Healthy Marriage. It's full of practical help about building your emotional intelligence, especially when it comes to relating with your spouse. And we have that book here at the ministry.

Look for details in the show notes. And now the remainder of our conversation with Dave and Jan Stoup. We've covered the S and the M, and now we've got to get to the A of SMART. A is accountability. Yeah. So what does accountability look like?

Can I say a word there? Over the years, we were part of a group of couples. Mostly they lived in the Bay Area, far from where we are. But we got together twice a year, but they were our prayer group. And they were our youth sponsors when we were youth pastors in a large church up in the San Francisco area.

But anyway, they became our accountability group. So we had a lot of prayer, accountability with each other, and there were ten of us. We named ourselves the ten of us. The ten of us.

That was creative. The ten of us. But to be accountable to other couples is a magnificent way to work out this too. We'd get together for a long weekend, someplace unique.

We were in the Sierras and we were in the beach and different places. But always on the weekend there was a time of sharing. And the guys dreaded it, you know, but we did it. And so it'd be our turn to share with the other four couples. And we would talk about what was going on in our life, what was going on in our kids. They prayed our son into sobriety and prayed us through that time. And it was just a time of accountability with each other.

And then the next day somebody else would share and we'd pray for them. We do that through a book club, Jean and I. We have five couples that are in a little book club. That's great. We really, the books have become less significant than being together. And we do exactly that.

An update about everybody's life. Every couple's got to have that kind of context. As Christian couples we need that kind of support. And that's accountable. But being accountable to each other and being an open book to each other. There's a lot of men in our area that their wives don't know the slightest idea how they stand financially.

And the man wants it that way. And that's counterproductive. That's being unaccountable. So it's a lack of trust. It's a lack of trust. At least it's a lack of trust. But it's a failure at accountability.

And accountability maybe has some negative feelings to it from how you grew up. But the only way you're going to have a solid marriage that lasts into old age is to be accountable to each other and in love. And of course we're talking to a couple who has been married 60 years. So you know what you're talking about. And there's something great about growing old together. Yeah.

Yeah, I totally agree with that. Jan, I do want though in this accountability area for ladies. I think wives struggle here because accountability can be wrapped in fear. You know that fear that I don't know what my husband's thinking. I don't know what my husband's really doing.

You can put that into the context of he works late at night. And you can spin yourself into a whole lot of emotions that may or may not be accurate. You know that intuition that begins to develop.

How does a woman who's feeling that way, I'm not connected with my husband. This accountability area. But not to come across with the assumptions that you're doing something wrong or that you've done something wrong.

And you come at that accountability in a way that's not constructive. Yeah. Well I would think, I don't know if someone worried about that has a girlfriend or whatever. But to begin to trust whether the trust really feels like real. But I am going to trust you.

I am going to ask you things and I expect you to answer. But in the midst of it, the thing that keeps coming to my mind is the praying together. If there's even a smidgen of hope that that husband is willing to even listen to you pray.

And then you hold hands or something like that. But praying together for Dave and I since we began, what, 50 years ago. Forty. Forty. Fifty years ago.

But anyway, we never missed a day. Even when he's traveling for youth with a mission he used to travel into some really strange countries. Not strange. Wonderful countries.

Wonderful countries. And he would get a phone somehow and we always touch base. And so this starts to build the trust that we're talking about here.

No that's good. But you know, they may not be able to get their husband on that level. We did a book years ago on when couples pray together and it's out of print unfortunately. But we did a survey of the couples who had agreed to do it. Because we'd get a commitment from them to do it for six weeks.

You know AA says if you do something for four weeks it becomes a habit. We figured with spiritual warfare we ought to make it six weeks. But one lady wrote back and she said, my husband won't pray with me. He's not a believer. But he said, I'll let you hold me and you pray. Yeah. And so they would hug each other and she would pray for them as a couple. And I always had thought that that was the beginning of something that God was going to use in a powerful way.

No I like that. Accountability. There's something in praying together that is a gentle accountability that keeps you on course with each other. And we've had a fight in the evening and we pray at night when we go to bed. And she might come to bed and say, are you going to pray?

And I say, nope. Because I'm still mad. She says, well I am. And you never pray your partner into shame. She would pray by the time she was done praying my heart had softened and I prayed.

And so there was that gentle accountability that regardless of what was going on, if we couldn't pray together we still tried and we still did usually. Well you shouldn't have worn those pajamas because those are the wrong color. They don't match. They don't match the sheets. They don't match. Mismatched pajamas, how could you do that?

I'm not praying with you. Obviously there's some very serious things too and couples are struggling with that. And that's the goal here is to help you do better in your marriage, in your communication. That's what it comes down to.

Okay we've got the S and the M and the A and now we're going to R. And this, we need a little bit of time here because I think this could be one of the world's greatest deficits. And that's reading your spouse's or the other person's emotions. Well like we've said before, it requires my being aware of my own emotions and being able to manage my emotions because now I'm not threatened by your emotions. And so I can speculate and a lot of it begins by speculating and there's some action plans in there like looking for emotions in media and talking together about general emotions and getting to understand how you can read what the other person is feeling by things that you've talked about that were neutral. What is an example where you struggled with reading one another accurately or with deference?

Do you have an example in your 60 years of marriage? Sure there are many. Let's see. A lot over the kids.

Now you're speaking my language. Okay come on, give it to me. Oh we have different opinions of how much we should interfere or should we not. That's very difficult.

And it's hard to come up with, you know, I know better, I was there, I saw it. But to understand that all this has to do with how we are on it and so we try to get together on at least one point of what we're talking about. When we were dealing with our son's addiction, one of us would be kind and manipulable, the other one would be firm and trying to draw the line. And every kid in that situation can play you against each other.

That's exactly right. Walks away with whatever he wants. And what we had to learn was how to read each other's natural tendency but to have talked it through enough that we knew that we had to stay on the same page. We had to be kind and firm at the same time.

Couldn't divide that. Now let me ask you this in the context of marriage though where you have the husband who doesn't display a lot of emotion and you have the wife trying to discern, trying to read her mate's queuing. And you're lost in that because he's not given you a lot of signals. Well then one of the things I tell the wives is often times I define the man as being afraid. So he's hiding.

He's hiding. He's fearful. And instead of him rejecting you, he's really afraid of what he's experiencing and he's hiding from you. So if you can operate on that principle that he's being motivated by fear, not by rejection, it can change the whole dynamic between you. So sometimes you have to help somebody do some empathy.

So let's not leave people there. Let's say some of the audience just said, yeah, that's the relationship I'm in. Whether you're the husband or the wife, how do they unwind that?

How do they start tonight? How do they say, okay. You sit down after dinner and say, let's let the dishes go for 10 to 15 minutes and talk a minute. I heard this thing on the radio today that kind of suggests that a lot of times you don't talk to me because you're hiding.

You're afraid. And it goes back to what you learned as a kid from your mom and the way she disciplines you. Talk to me about what that was like when you were a kid. And if I can get him to talk about what he experienced as a kid, Jan knows almost everything that happened to me as a kid.

And I know almost everything that happened to her as a kid. We've over the years talked about it because it's affected our here and now. It wasn't locked into the past.

It was still operating in the present. It can be hard to have that appetite as the wife to say, I'm going to really listen and understand this. Can it be hard?

I would think it could be difficult, especially if you're upset. Yeah. OK. Yeah. Blame it on your childhood.

Heard that before. I'm just role playing with you because I want to really help people. Well, it's not just blaming it on my childhood. It's trying to understand the pattern of behavior that I get caught in without even thinking. And you need to I need your help to pull me out of that. And then we've got to talk about some ways that I can experience your helping me pull me out of it so you can keep me talking. We've got to at least touch on tea so we don't end with smart.

Let's end with smart. But we don't have a lot of time. So just one minute together in the land of emotions, the tea together. It's together.

How comfortable are we together in dealing with our emotions? And the goal is to become comfortable with a whole range of emotions. Right. That'll be the result of doing S.M.A.R. So S.M.A.R. If I do S.M.A.R. well, I will do that. I will be smart.

You get the tea. Yeah. So it all builds on a safe place. I like that. That's good. Not only that, but scripturally. And that's a great place to end this discussion scripturally. That's what you want.

I think the scriptural version of this is called becoming one flesh. Yeah. Right. Togetherness. That's what that's saying. Becoming one emotionally. One emotionally. So you really are complementing each other.

And I think putting a smile on the face of God when his design is being made in his image, male and female, is actually functioning because you are one. Yeah. And that is a beautiful picture of where I would want to be if you asked me the five-year goal. Hopefully, maybe that could be done in six months.

I don't know. But create that plan. The book even has an outline on how to create that plan, where you want to be together. Your spouse has to participate. Don't create the plan without your spouse. That's true.

That'll be a disaster. And love is the end result. And love is never in the list of emotions because love is a different emotion. It's designed to come and stay and grow, whereas anger, fear, sadness and shame, designed to come and alert you to something and then go away. It's a symptom. It's a symptom. And love is more than a symptom. Love is a way of life.

And that's our goal is to increase love. Wow. That is a great place to end. I'm sorry we have to.

Dr. David Stoup and Dr. Jan Stoup, go online. Get the book. That's the point. There's so many good resources, the assessment in there. I scored 98.

Can we move on, please? I bet it's out of 120, so I feel like I failed. I'm already shaming myself here. Man, I always want to get an A. But it's just great tools to provide a pathway for you. And I want to thank both of you for being here, making the trip to Colorado. I'm sorry you had to leave sunny California.

It was not a bad move. Okay, good. Good trip. We're delighted to be here.

Very, very special for us. What a great conversation, and we trust you picked up some nuggets to apply to your own relationship today. And as Jim said, if you're finding yourself to be maybe a little frustrated with all this, perhaps it is difficult to tread into this territory, give us a call because we have caring Christian counselors. We can offer a free phone consultation with one of those counselors to help you start to grow in intimacy and improve your relationship.

We're a phone call away. I'd like to encourage you as well to get a copy of the book from Dave and Jan Stoop, The Emotionally Healthy Marriage, Growing Closer by Understanding Each Other. It's a terrific resource, and we're making it available today for a donation of any amount to the Ministry of Focus on the Family. Partner with us, help us reach couples around the world with this kind of great information and perspective. As you do, we'll say thank you by sending a copy of that book to you.

All the details about donating and getting the book are in the show notes. Of course, you can always call us. Our number is 800, the letter A in the word family.

800-232-6459. Well, plan to join us tomorrow as we talk with John Marriott. He'll share about deconstruction.

What does that mean? And how can you help your struggling child? It's not that they have a one-time point where they say, Oh, I don't believe any of this. This is all just absurd. But usually it's over a period of time where they realize that their beliefs have just evaporated or eroded away. They haven't rejected them necessarily.

They've kind of just lost them. On behalf of the entire team, thanks for listening to Focus on the Family with Jim Daly. I'm John Fuller inviting you back as we once again help you and your family thrive in Christ. and how unique people like you can better come together. To get started on your marriage assessment, visit That's
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-06-18 08:09:49 / 2024-06-18 08:21:46 / 12

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