All couples fight. But not all couples fight the right way.
A 14-year study conducted by John Gottman, Psychology professor at the University of Washington, on 79 married couples living across the United States claims that there is a correct way to argue with one’s partner.
Of this number, 21 marriages ended up in divorce after more than a decade of being together.
Focusing on the couples who remained together despite challenges, taking into account how they argued and fought, the study found that productive arguments work best to create a lasting relationship.
The power of productive arguments
The study also found that couples who stayed together did not let any conflict fester; they discussed issues almost immediately following a fight.
Those who ended up divorcing were found to take much longer before talking about it, waiting hours or days before anything is even mentioned.
READ: Emotionally intelligent couples have stronger marriages
Stop a ‘rocking boat’
Gottman asked couples to picture themselves on a boat and to imagine that the sea surrounding their boat is made up of all their emotions. Each argument then begins to create bigger and bigger waves in that ocean.
Healthy couples don’t wait too long to stabilize a ‘rocking boat’. As soon as conflict arises, healthy couples talk things through almost immediately.
Those who ended up divorcing were found to wait hours or even days before they even said anything.
So couples must talk openly and recognize their own faults to calm any turbulent waves that threaten to capsize their boat.
Don’t just communicate, listen
Even if voicing certain things out could possibly risk more conflict, individuals who feel secure enough in their relationship speak up when something’s wrong.
Relationships were found to end in divorce when one or both partners had a habit of cutting the other person off during an argument with insensitive remarks that haven’t been well thought out.
Successful, satisfied partners approach each conflict with an open mind, while making the other feel like their feelings are valued even in the heat of an intense argument.
Allowing your partner to feel heard and valued doesn’t mean it’ll be smooth sailing until you’re old and grey, but it certainly makes the journey worth taking, no matter what awaits your boat around the bend.
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