The captivating news feature , Fighting With Your Spouse Is Good For Your Health caught my eye. But hold your horses, war freak spouses. Listen, it has to be a good fight . Not the cat-dog fight. Preliminary results from a University of Michigan study found couples that suppress anger die earlier than couples in which one or both partners express their anger and resolve the conflict..
Researchers looked at 192 couples in Tecumseh, Mich. during a 17-year period placing them into one of four categories. The first category included couples in which both partners communicated their anger.
The second and third groups included one spouse that expresses while the other suppresses anger and the forth group involved couples where both the husband and wife suppress their anger and brood, lead author Ernest Harburg said in a press release.
“Comparison between couples in which both people suppress their anger, and the three other types of couples, are very intriguing,” said Harburg, professor emeritus of the U-M School of Public Health and the psychology department.
When both spouses suppress their anger at the other when unfairly attacked, earlier death was twice as likely than in all other types.
Ernest Harburg clarified that “If you bury your anger, and you brood on it, you resent the other person or the attacker, and you don’t try to resolve the problem, then you’re in trouble.”
The key factor is communication. Filipinos are not too hot on a confrontational talk including my husband but with practice we found ways to argue and resolve amicably. How?
1. Avoid “You should or you should not…”
At the heat of any argument, I don’t butt in and say “You shouldn’t feel that way” or “You should be calm”. When I am disappointed or impatient with his attitude, I just say “I feel sad that you are feeling that way”. By owning my feelings, I am not accusing him or making him responsible for my of sadness. Even if he seeks advice, I still say “I feel this is the right approach…” . I never say “you’re wrong.” I often try hard to look for areas of agreement and work on them.
2. Don’t beat around the bush in our conversations to control the reactions of your spouse. Guilt producing comments only produce guilt.
Hinting at what we need doesn’t work. Our spouse can’t read our mind and they are more likely to resent our indirectedness. The best way to take responsibility for what we want is to ask for it directly. And, we can insist on directness too. If I need to say no to a particular request, I make it known. If my spouse tries to control me through a conversation, I refuse to participate.
3. When I’m wrong, I admit it.
I make mistakes now and then, so I say “You’re absolutely right, dear, I know it’s my fault and here is what I’ll do to make amends.” Even if I am NOT wrong, at least I give him the benefit of the doubt, “I may be wrong, let’s examine at the facts together.” It’s hard to argue with that.
4. Communicate with your husband when he is out of his cave
Some husbands like mine hibernate to their cave for solitude when he is thinking about a problem. Many men withdraw until they find a solution to the problem. I don’t know if women hibernate in a cave. I know I don’t. One thing I learned is Never disturb your man while he is growling in his cave.
It pays to have a good fight when both are willing to resolve like two mature invidividuals.
Any ideas to add on how to resolve your problems?