According to researchers from the University of Michigan, arguing may have health benefits for both of you… but only if you do it right. Shouting and venting aggressively increases stress whereas talking calmly and rationally leads to resolve and thus ultimate contentment for both parties.
The study, which examined 192 couples for 17 years, found that earlier death was twice as likely in the 26 couples where both partners suppressed their anger compared to all the other couples.
Tips for healthy arguments
1. Take a time-out
Sometimes having discussions about niggling issues when your emotions are heightened is not productive. It is easy to lash out with criticism when tensions are high. If you don’t think you can maintain a rational discussion without exploding, take a 15, 20 or 60 minute time out. Take a time out to compose yourself and gather your thoughts. Calm down and try to see the situation for what it is rather than going straight for the attack, acting purely off your emotional state. A time out can often help you avoid saying something you later regret.
2. Stop criticism
Be light in your approach in handling the problem. It is all too easy to get frustrated and point the finger at the other person. Instead, use a softer approach clearly explaining your stance without resorting to negative personal attacks.
3. Avoid defensiveness
Take responsibility for your part in the situation. Acknowledge your negative actions as well as positive and remain accountable. Becoming defensive is not going to help resolve the disagreement.
4. Show respect
Avoid disregarding the other person or even the severity of the situation. This is only going to damage relationships. Instead, explain your own thoughts and needs. Recognise the differences in how the other person is feeling without disrespect.
5. Remain present
If things become heated, try not to disengage from the conversation or walk away, prematurely ending the discussion. Find a way to remain calm and present in the interaction. Try steady breathing or even ask for a moment to gather your thoughts. Disengaging from people or disputes can cause long-lasting irreparable damage.
Dr. Noel Duncan & Perri Simon