Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Shrinking Your Arguments

Posted by Michele Olson

CNN.com picked up on an Oprah.com post about what happens to couples bodies when they are arguing. The article focuses on research associate Lisa Diamond’s study on arguing couples, specifically studying the measurable changes that happen in their bodies while fighting. Ironically, she has no trouble even in a research setting getting a couple to find a topic and “go at it.” The tougher part is getting them to stop the argument when the data has been gathered and they are free to go!

Diamond is trying to quantify the role the body and nervous system play in relationships and conflict. She’s learning how even very small gestures can lessen the damage of big arguments and how a minor reconsideration of what’s happening can affect the furious heat being generated.

She often sees the traditional demand-withdrawal dynamic. The woman makes demands and the man in response shuts down.

Diamond goes on to observe:

*Each of demand/withdrawal emotions reflects what is happening in the body.
*If you are the demanding partner, listen to your heart; literally. If your heart is racing, eyes ablaze, step back and take a deep breath, close your eyes, calm down. Pay attention to your body.
*The most important gesture you can make toward your partner is to empathize. The very behavior driving you crazy is actually calming your partner.
*When calmer, approach the subject with a smile. Humor defuses tension and can lessen the damage of big arguments.

All of this takes a measure of self control and may not “feel as good” at the moment as unleashing your feelings, but the big picture outcome is much more rewarding.
What about your relationship? Have you ever paid attention to what is happening to you physically during an argument? What do you think about the suggestions in the article?
Tell us your story!

Complete article here.

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