When we prepare to be married, some tasks and things tend to rise to the top. There are good reasons for this. After all, when we need to book a venue or any time payment is involved, we know that we need to take care of those tasks on time. But what often gets left out is counseling and learning about our emotional compatibility with our spouse-to-be.
There are in-depth studies and schools of thought on our personality traits and background, even our genetic and hereditary background, and how it affects our mentality and relationships. But when it comes time to apply what we know about our psychology, if we have done that work with that of our spouse and in the context of our marriage, that’s where the disconnect can occur.
What is Emotion, Really?
Part of the issue with understanding our emotional compatibility in a relationship is first understanding what emotion is altogether. Again, there are many theories about emotions and how many there are. Some say there are 8-10 major emotional areas. Others claim that there are up to 30 emotional areas that humans operate within daily. And, of course, some estimate that there are many more emotions than those who subscribe to these schools of thought might present.
But to state the obvious here, we all agree that we all have emotions, from the newest baby to the oldest person. The more we learn about emotion, the better we are able to understand ourselves and our spouses.
What Does the Bible Say About Emotion?
Because there are so many thoughtful explorations of our emotional makeup, I find it helpful to look to my faith foundation for guidance. The Bible, that is, the written expression of the Christian Faith, includes substantive explanations of what emotion is through telling the story of Christ Jesus. For example, Paul teaches in Ephesians 4:26, “In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down on your anger.” This passage mentions one of the emotions that is universal. The passage is also highly relevant because, as it relates to marriage, anger is something that we must deal with in the right way, as the passage suggests.
But more simply, the text fully acknowledges the importance of emotion and that we must do our part to deal with it. The passage provides a plan and specific instructions. First, Paul acknowledges that anger is real and then prescribes for all believers, not just married ones, that we should not let anger go down while we are still angry. He infers that we should do what we can to work out that emotion while we still have time.
Learning Your Emotional Compatibility
When it comes to learning more about your emotional compatibility and that of your spouse, there are some things to be aware of.
Understanding Your Spouse first requires that we understand ourselves. Before we can be honest and forthright about our emotional experience, whether it is past, present, or future, we should do some homework on why we are the way we are. More specifically, we should think about what formed us emotionally and think as deeply and critically as possible about how that will affect our spouse.
This is not easy work, but it is fruitful and important. We should know what takes us to emotional zones and why. What cultural or community influences have formed how we feel sad or anxious, excited or happy? Can we anticipate what will make us feel these emotions, or do we feel like we are mostly unable to know what or when certain emotions will overtake us?
Think about how this affects not only us but our spouses as well. Before we begin learning about our emotional compatibility with our spouses, we should have some of these questions answered for ourselves.
Making Emotional Adjustments
As a minister, wedding officiant, and married person, I have learned through counseling and my marriage that we may anticipate knowing our spouse when we get married. Still, life with our spouse is always different after we become married. It doesn’t matter how good or bad things are or how well we know our future spouse when we get married; it’s a new experience and dynamic after marriage.
There is a spiritual element that is consistent with this. The Bible teaches that when God marries a couple, they are one. It confirms this event by saying that what God has done, let no person put apart or divide. This indicates that God uniquely can solidify a marriage with the two, not just share all things but become one.
This is important for at least a few reasons. When two become one, it is immediate, according to the biblical explanation of marriage. Ideally, there should be preparation for this event, which is often underestimated. When we don’t know all the emotions we will begin sharing in marriage, it puts us at a disadvantage. That’s one of the reasons that pre-marital counseling is so helpful. Even then, we should understand how our emotions are immediately involved from the day we are married in a way that they never have or never could have been before.
Things we are unaware of are now permanently part of our lives. This can truly cause difficulty if a couple is now aware of what’s happening. Still, it also explains why some couples may do very well before marriage in their relationship, and things seem to drastically change suddenly without many other factors changing. It could be the emotional compatibility and how it’s changed by being married.
The good news is that with the right preparation, we will be very aware of our emotional compatibility and move forward from our wedding day equipped with the right heart and state of mind.
One of the keys to emotional compatibility is understanding where you are emotionally. With the right preparation and healthy communication, you can engage in a way that establishes a good foundation for you and your spouse.