Emotional Restraint

Emotional intelligence consists of four components: 

  1. Awareness of self
  2. Awareness of others
  3. Awareness of relationship dynamics
  4. Emotional restraint

Couples counseling focuses a lot on couples becoming more aware of their relationship dynamics. However, for volatile couples, emotional restraint is the key for success.

Volatile couples is a term Dr. John Gottman uses to describe passionate couples. These couples are great when they are good and awful when they’re not. They escalate easily and can be hurtful to each other. They often develop bad habits that are difficult to break.

Emotional restraint is key to success for these couples. They tend to be reactive to each other and easily set each other off. Being able to restrain one’s habitual reactions reflects emotional maturity. 

Volatile couples are no less successful than avoidant couples or validating couples. However, if they allow themselves to interact with criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling, this predicts divorce. Emotional restraint—resisting one’s habitual reactions—creates success.