Successful Couples Swear by This One Tip
The formula for a perfect relationship is tough to decipher. From having shared values to bonding over similar interests, finding the key to compatibility has interested couples and scientists alike for years. While it is still a gray area, research suggests that the happiest couples who do one thing: fight. A 14-year study found that couples who know how to fight fair are far more likely to stay together. Surprisingly, researchers believe that learning to argue with your partner could be the key to a harmonious relationship. Read on to discover how successful couples fight fair.
Conflict might seem like something you should avoid, but new research suggests that regular arguments are actually good for your relationship. In a study of 145 couples who were given conflict coaching, those who spoke up about problems regularly reported feeling happier. Hollywood couple Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have also said the key to their strong relationship is embracing arguments. "It strengthens a relationship if you can pass those big fights and those big things where you really come head-to-head," Jolie tells Redbook.
Try this: Learn to raise an issue in a non-confrontational way. Successful couples don't necessarily fight frequently, they have just developed a language for speaking openly about their concerns without allowing it to escalate. Next time you want to confront your partner, don't suppress the feeling.
During an argument, our first tendency is often to rebut our partner and make sure our side is heard. If you tend to interrupt your partner during a fight, researchers have found that your habit might be more damaging than you think. In the study, couples who got divorced said they often felt like their partner wasn't listening and would often cut in during a conversation. Advice columnist Irma Kurtz says fighting fair isn't about voicing your opinion, it's about speaking less. "Given silence in which to speak or rant, they’ll say more than they meant to—even more than they knew they were thinking. It can be surprising and revealing and paves the way for honesty," she tells The Telegraph.
Try this: Before interrupting your partner during a fight, pause and count to three. It will slow the pace of the conversation, encouraging a more measured approach, and will prevent them from feeling interrupted.
Couples who fight fair know that an argument isn't about criticizing or belittling the other person, it's an opportunity to ask why. Adopting a levelheaded approach when conflict arises is key. If your partner has raised an issue, resist the temptation to take it personally and try to unpack the situation and get to the heart of the issue.
Try this: Next time you fight, flip the way you think about the situation and consider it as a discussion. Ask your partner questions that probe deeper to the underlying issue such as, Why do you feel that way? and How do you think we could solve it?
When we fight, it's easy to adopt a me versus you attitude. Destructive arguments push this binary and become a power struggle. Successful couples know that while uncomfortable, arguments can also be an opportunity to create intimacy. Showing vulnerability during an argument breaks down emotional barriers and stops the fight from becoming a situation with a winner and loser.
Try this: If you feel like an argument is driving a barrier between you and your partner, show vulnerability. Sharing our fears, anxieties, and imperfections allows us to form a deeper connection.
Studies have found that conflict behavior in the early stages of a relationship can predict whether a couple will split or stay together. The most important predictor? Language. Researchers found that couples who "engaged positively" mid-argument were more likely to work through problems and feel satisfied after voicing a concern. Couples counselor David Waters points out that if your partner uses negative language and verbal cues, it should raise a red flag. "According to research, people who sneer, ridicule, or talk down to their partner are on a fast track to relationship destruction," he says. Those in successful relationships hardly ever speak to each other that way, even when angry."
Try this: If you find yourself belittling your partner or using cruel language during a fight, question the underlying reason. Make an effort to change your language, and try open phrases that build intimacy, such as Help me understand, I never thought of it that way, and I'd like to think that over to find an answer.
Aaron Beck, author of Love Is Never Enough, has developed a three-phase rule that offers advice about the best way to act in each stage of a fight. During the first phase when an argument ignites, Beck says it's crucial to show you're listening. "As the couple are beginning to disagree, one partner [should] at least partly acknowledges the other's point of view, even by such subtle cues as carefully listening to a charge and nodding to show it might have some validity," he says. In phase two, when the argument is at its most heated, try to "mind read [by] saying how the other is feeling about the issue." In the final stage, the key is to voice your learnings and agree to compromise.
Try this: Nod and show you're listening when the argument begins, try to anticipate your partner's perspective and tell them you recognize their feelings, and then offer a compromise. Breaking an argument down into these three easy steps is a simple way to start changing your behavior and learn to fight fair.
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