How Journaling Can Strengthen Your Relationships

a couple sitting on a dining table holding hands while drinking coffee and spending quality time together

Relationships can be a source of joy and fulfillment in your life, but they can also be the cause of insecurity and conflict. If you feel insecure in your relationship, it can be from a wide range of root causes, from your needs not being met, to communication issues, to a lack of self-esteem. When you leave these problems unresolved, it can start damaging your relationship as well as your emotional well-being. 

It’s a difficult place to be in, but recognizing the problems in your relationship will help you start finding solutions to help you feel more secure. Journaling can help you gain a healthier perspective and transform the way you see your relationship.

Below are 3 common relationship problems that journaling exercises can help you manage:

1. Addressing Insecurity and Trust Issues

Trust is foundational in a relationship so a lack of trust can take a toll on your relationship as well as your personal well-being. While a lack of self-esteem can lead to distrust and suspicion, trauma or broken trust from past relationships can also carry on to your current relationship. 

Feeling secure in a relationship depends as much on trust in your partner as it does trust and belief in yourself. An exercise called “self-affirmation” can help you make healthier choices when your self-esteem suffers by reminding you of your inner strength and values. By gaining your sense of self-identity and security in yourself, you can seek validation from within rather than your partner, thus helping you feel more secure in your relationship. Another exercise called “Cherishing Your Partner” can help you develop more affection for your partner. This can help protect your relationship from harsh conflicts and help you interpret events in a more forgiving and loving manner, helping to build trust in the relationship.

2. Working Through Communication Issues

Communication is key in all relationships, but especially when you’re experiencing conflicts within a relationship. It can be challenging to resolve conflicts without effective communication, as problems and negative feelings can build up and eventually explode. 

Psychological researcher John Gottman’s research has shown that people in happy marriages tend to bring up touchy issues in a more softened approach. Instead of being accusatory or waiting until your feelings build up to bring up concerns, using a gentler approach can help stabilize and avoid emotionally damaging conversations. Allowing the Four Horsemen into the conversation, which is defined as criticism (attacking your partner’s character), contempt (treating your partner with disgust and resentment), defensiveness (self-righteousness), and stonewalling (ignoring your partner completely), can cause further tension and negative emotions. One journaling exercise called “softened approach” can help you practice bringing up a relationship conflict in a softened approach before any damaging conflict approaches, thereby avoiding the Four Horsemen. This can not only help solve communication issues but bring you and your partner closer through patience and understanding.

3. Navigating Conflicts Together

Conflicts can easily arise in relationships, but the method of resolving and managing them can be key indicators of a healthy relationship. Whether it’s a trivial argument about who is tasked with washing the dishes or a more serious conflict surrounding children or in-laws, conflict may result in anger or saying hurtful things we don’t mean. When conflicts go unresolved or lead to further feelings of resentment, it can cause great damage to the relationship.

One study where participants were tasked to write about a conflict from the perspective of a third party led to a reduction of conflict-related distress and anger. An exercise used in research called “Gain Perspective on Conflicts” helps you use a third-person perspective to approach the conflict, thereby helping you overcome the conflict using a more benevolent approach. With a plethora of benefits, it can strengthen your relationship by preventing declines in relationship satisfaction, trust, love, and sexual passion. 

Worries and conflicts can be normal in any relationship, but if you’re experiencing insecurity to the extent that it is damaging your relationship, many problems can arise. Self-awareness of the problems in your relationship is the first step towards solving them, and journaling can be a helpful tool for you to start. It can help you with a range of problems, from feelings of insecurity to communication issues to conflicts. 

EmoteWell offers all of the exercises mentioned above to help you strengthen your relationships, with an abundance of other exercises to build out your emotional wellness toolbox. Sign up today with the code ‘relationships’ for a month of free access.