Every couple has bad days—the kind where you just can’t be in the same room as your man and where every small argument feels like a world war waiting to happen—but some people tend to have more good days together than not. These happy couples seem almost perfect. Even when they fight, they do so in a way that leads to the growth of their relationship.

There are many reasons why happy couples are the way they are, but according to pyschologist Dr. Shannon Kolakowski, there is one key element that most people tend to miss: emotional intelligence (EI).

“Your level of EI is defined by how effectively you perceive and relate to your emotions,” she writes in The Huffington Post. Of which, there are four main components, namely:

Emotional Awareness
This is when you’re able to effectively identify your own feelings and understand why you’re feeling the way you are. It’s knowing that you’re feeling angry at your boyfriend, not just because he forgot to pick up the package you told him to, but because he chose to hang out with his buddies first, making you feel like second best.

Regulating Emotions
It’s easy to drown in depression or be overwhelmed with anger, but having a high level of emotional intelligence means getting a hold of yourself. Yes, you want nothing more than to throw all the kitchen plates at him, but you try your best to calm down anyway.

Harnessing Emotions
You don’t let your emotions get the best of you. Instead, you use them to solve your problem or improve your situation.

Highly Perceptive
It’s not just your own emotions that you’re aware of—it’s other people’s too. You can pick up how they’re feeling based on their tone of voice, the way they act, or the small nuances in their body language.

Don’t think your level of EI is up to par? Not to worry! EI is something that can be improved with practice. Start with your own emotions. Try to make a habit of identifying what you’re feeling and why you’re feeling it. The more you become sensitive to your own feelings, the easier it’ll be to control them and recognize the same emotions in your man.

PHOTO: Mo Riza/Flickr Creative Commons

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