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Hold Emotional Space For Your Spouse
Let’s talk about how to hold emotional space for your spouse. If you want to get closer to your spouse and create more emotional intimacy in your relationship (Related Article: Emotional Intimacy: What It Is And How To Get It), you will want to learn this skill. This is also part of creating crucial emotional safety for you and your spouse (Related Article: Create Emotional Safety Through Fixing Marriage Problems).
What Does It Mean To Hold Emotional Space?
Holding emotional space means that you create room for your partner to feel, explore and try to understand their emotions. You don’t let anything else get in the way of this – you hold space for them. So, holding emotional space has to do with how much room you give your partner emotionally. When they are talking about them, do you let it be about them? Holding emotional space will allow you to do this. It allows them to feel heard and will help you connect with each other.
It’s important to hold emotional space for your spouse so that they feel safe. They also need a space to explore their emotions. They might not know what they are feeling or they may need space to try to understand it. As you hold space for them, they can explore more fully embrace and feel their emotions (Related Articles: Emotions 101: How To Be Healthy and 3 Principles of Emotional Health).
How Do I Hold Emotional Space For My Spouse?
Be Genuinely Curious – You can hold emotional space for your spouse by first having a genuine curiosity about them and what they are going through. For example, if your partner says that today was a stressful day, you can say, “Tell me about it, honey. What was stressful?”. This might seem simple, but it goes a long way towards strengthening your relationship. How easy is it in those moments to start talking about your own day and how hard it was? Avoid this temptation. Its not about you right now – you will have your time.
Reflect and Validate – When your spouse talks about their emotion of stress, you can hold emotional space by simply saying, “That would be stressful. I can see how that would be hard for you.” This shows your spouse that you are with them and thinking about what they are saying. It also gives them a chance to talk more about it.
Wonder or Imagine Aloud About Their Emotions – Another way to hold emotional space has to do with wondering or imagining. This takes it a step further than reflecting what they have said. You take what they have said and move it forward. For example, you could say, “I imagine that this stress is just weighing on you and that that makes everything else harder in your life right now.”
Now, this isn’t what your spouse specifically said, aside from being stressed. However, you can probably guess and imagine how else that emotion is impacting them. Your spouse then is free to agree or disagree, but either way, explain further. This feels good to them and helps you connect as a couple.
Schedule a couples counseling session with a competent, caring therapist who can help you in your marriage. South Jordan, Orem, Spanish Fork or American Fork.
We also offer telehealth sessions.
Written by Triston Morgan, PhD, Utah Marriage and Family Therapist