How do you spend your emotional energy?
The world is heavy. We feel it. It’s hard to escape. And the weight of it all might be seeping into your relationship. It’s not a question of how to build a fortress to prevent the events of your community or society from penetrating your relationship; it’s a question of what amount of energy you devote to feeling those feelings, and at what cost.
We all have a certain amount of emotional energy to give each day. We know what it feels like to be depleted of that. Unfortunately, it’s probably an all too familiar feeling these days. And it doesn’t feel good. We get angsty, cranky, and likely withdraw from those closest to us. This ends up effecting our relationship with our partner, quite unintentionally. When we need that love and care so much, we push it away and instead hold tight to our anxiety and fear.
For those of us who are aware of our emotional energy and where it goes, it is still a challenge to direct it where we want it to go. We are inundated with information and opinions about everything. You see it when you open up any social media app, catch 5 minutes on any TV news network, or even that virtual water cooler talk at work.
There’s no denying that 2020 has been off to a rough start for a number of reasons, but we all probably got caught up in overspending our emotional energy on things we didn’t care to before this as well. Sometimes it was on small things, like a friend who didn’t take your advice, or potentially bigger like a conflict at work.
Here’s the point – we only have a certain amount of emotional energy. It can vary by person and by day; it’s quite hard to quantify. If you are not spending an appropriate amount of that energy on your partner, it’s likely going somewhere else less important. And while there may be days where this is the right choice, it’s about intention. Are you letting that energy decide where it goes, or are you in control of where you’re spending it?
There is a theory in the world of family science that tells us about how various systems we interact with impact and relate to us. You can visualize this by thinking of a bullseye with individuals and couples in the center, surrounded by family and close friends. Then another ring with work relationships, neighbors, school and church friends – largely what people would identify as their community. And then the final ring representing society, the all-encompassing circle that is farthest away from you at the center, but where all the other systems reside within.
Using this imagery, it’s easy to see how issues from that outer circle can drill down through the inner circles to reach you in the center. And some of those issues should do that; they’re important and worth your energy – but remember, it’s about intention and awareness of that energy spend.
If you are not emotionally connected to your partner, your energy will diminish much more quickly than if you are standing strong together. This unity allows you to sort of borrow energy from one another when you are running low, it allows you to protect each other from that negative feeling when it gets to be too much, and it helps provide grace for one another when you inevitably run out of energy to spend that day.
Couples who sit strong in the center, united and tuned into each other’s emotional energy needs can actually turn the direction of that energy around. Instead of waiting for the weight of the world to hit you, you can be proactive and intentional about your energy spend working your way out of that inner circle and positively impacting your close relationships, community and society.
Here are 3 questions to ask yourself:
- Where is my emotional energy going?
- What ideas, questions, memories take up space in your head? Where do you find your mind drifting off to? What feels heavy on your heart?
- How do I redirect my emotional energy?
- How do I be intentional about spending emotional energy on my partner? Who falls into my next ring of impact – which friends and family?
- How can I support my partner with understanding their emotional energy needs?
- What questions should I ask? And when do I ask them? Am I prepared to answer for myself?
This is not easy stuff. It may be an entirely new concept for you. But it is important. Your partner is your greatest support in life. If you don’t check where your energy is going, it will end up deteriorating your relationship.