You’ve heard it from experts and the media, probably know it from your own experience, that male and female brains are different. Of course, all couples get angry and argue, no matter how long they’ve been together. And the brain’s ‘hard wiring’ can impact how they fight. According to conventional wisdom, men focus on solving the problem and moving on. And women want to discuss how they feel about the situation and be understood by their partner – most often they think they can handle the actual problem themselves.
During these stressful moments, there are strategies that can help you calm down. Count to 10 and take several deep breaths before responding. Or agree to come back to the problem later and blow off steam in the meantime with a jog or talking to a friend. Even slightly shifting your attitude or behavior can go a long way in minimizing bad feelings and resentments. You don’t always have to be right and get the last word. If you take some responsibility for what’s going on and are willing to compromise, that’s a win/win for both of you.
In the midst of a heated argument, any one of these comments would be welcomed by someone who is feeling misunderstood: I could be wrong, I understand how you feel, I see my part in all of this, let’s find a common ground, I love you and we’ll work this out.
Arguments are less destructive if you’ve built up a reserve of shared positive feelings and interactions. You can draw on this emergency supply in times of conflict. To create emotional dividends, try something as simple as connecting daily. Leave your partner an affectionate text message or express appreciation for a loving gesture.
Dr. Jeffrey B. Rubin recently published The Art of Flourishing, which integrates meditative, psychotherapeutic and yogic practices to show readers how to thrive and live well, even in times of upheaval. You’ll learn how to broaden the scope of your own well-being while deepening your intimate relationships.
You may be interested in reading a couple of his articles: ‘Winning in a Relationship is a Losing Strategy’ in the Huffington Post and ‘How Anthony Weiner Might Save His Marriage’ in Psychology Today. In the fall, Dr. Rubin will be a featured guest on our Virtual Book Tour – we’ll keep you posted. In the meantime, learn more about him and his new book by exploring his website.