We all argue from time to time, but not always constructively. A new study has shown that couples who argue more increase their risk of death during middle age. While working out differences in relationships is important, it seems that the stress from constant fighting or arguing takes its toll on our physical health.
You know that stress isn’t good for your health, but it seems that the persistent stress caused by frequent arguing impacts your body and heightens your chance of an early death. While dealing with everyday stresses can be reduced by simple relaxation strategies, finding ways to reduce stress from arguments might be a little more tricky.
Emotional entanglement is really hard to ignore, and when your relationship is in strife, it sometimes feels like the only thing on which you can focus. Those days when you have a big argument and it seems as though there is no solution, you can find yourself going through what was said and done over and over in your head. Getting stuck in these moments is common, but perhaps finding ways to ease anxiety and deal with it constructively could have a better impact on both your health and your relationship. So, how can you change the way you deal with relationship stress?
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Write a letter
Writing can be a really therapeutic way of managing overwhelming emotions. It may be in the form of a letter to your partner or a journal entry, but getting it out on paper not only changes the way you see the situation, but releases some of the feelings around which you feel stuck. Writing lets your brain process problematic issues in a way that creates a different perspective and calms your nervous system. If you find yourself ruminating over what was said, try writing about it and see if it shifts the way you feel about the argument.
Take time out
When things get heated and you are in the middle of a big argument, you can’t see the forest for the trees. This is a crucial time because this is when you might say things that you regret or that may cause permanent damage to the relationship. Though it might feel better to tear your partner down at this time, using their vulnerabilities against them in a fight will only cause further breakdown. Instead of lashing out, make an agreement to take time out if either of you feel you may start to hit below the belt. Just 15 minutes might make all the difference between destroying the relationship or having a constructive discussion.
Do you want to be right or happy?
It is easy to get stuck in a win/lose frame of mind when in an argument, but you know that at times you start to lose the point and simply want to be right. Taking this attitude in a fight with a loved one will not be constructive and can result in resentment. Know why you are arguing and what you want the outcome to be before you take a stand. Sometimes it just feels good to be able to say “I told you so”, but that doesn’t always make for harmonious relationships. Let go of your need to be right and take a more honest look at what is really going on.
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Remember the things you love
The hardest part might be to remain in touch with why you love this person, but doing this really changes the perspective of an argument. Even though you feel as though you really dislike your partner in that moment, remember the moments when you have felt love and connection with them. Ask yourself if it is worth bringing up every transgression during the relationship, or if you want to make this quarrel as constructive as the moments when you are close.
All relationships go through conflict, and it is a natural part of relating. Knowing when having an argument is going to improve the relationship or whether it is going to damage it is a good skill to have. Next time, before you embark on a squabblefest with your partner, ask yourself what you want to gain from this and whether it will improve your relationship. The balance between honesty and criticism is a fine one, so check out your motives before picking a fight.