Defusing Arguments with One Simple Question #Relationships

wedding-cake-toppers

I am just about done with my divorce proceedings, so maybe I am not the one to be posting about having a healthy relationship. My former wife and I had a lot of arguments and disagreements and other problems that I do not need to drag out on this blog.

The reality is we are *almost* officially split.

So why share relationship advice? Because divorce sucks.

And… if I can get some relationship advice to others who are leaning towards splitting but a simple “fix” might help to buy you time until you can get some good in-depth counseling, separate and then together, I would love to help.

I found this very interesting article published recently by Jessica Stillman on Inc.com that has some major implications when the “foxes” rear their ugly heads, or when disagreements start to sour things and the resentment builds.

I can’t remember the exact number, but I heard once that over sixty percent of arguments in relationships have NO answer or solution. Sure there are two positions, but guess what… in most cases, you are both right! There is no right or wrong choice.

That’s sometimes the problem. You might have completely opposite views on an issue and you and your significant other might have an equal number of people you know that side with you or them.

Crazy!

A recent study concluded that a simple, straightforward question can instantly defuse arguments with your partner:

“How will I feel in one year about this current conflict?”

Here’s a quote from the article:

When the researchers had people reflect on a recent fight in light of how they would feel about the argument a year in the future, they found participants both felt more positive about their relationships in general and expressed more reasonable and forgiving opinions about the conflict.

“Our study demonstrates that adopting a future-oriented perspective in the context of a relationship conflict–reflecting on how one might feel a year from now–may be a valuable coping tool for one’s psychological happiness and relationship well-being,” commented study co-author Alex Huynh.

This argument you find yourself in, is this the hill you want your relationship to “die” on? Is winning this argument more important than staying together? What kind of future do want to have with your partner? Reflecting on these questions, could significantly alter your outlook towards a dispute.

Now, I am not telling you to stuff your feelings. You can communicate those to your partner, why something is important to you, or to a counselor or close friend. What I am saying though is to get to a point of understanding of why you feel the way you feel, and then asking yourself, “Is it worth it to keep fighting this argument?”

The article continues:

Now all you have to do is muster the presence of mind to remember to ask yourself this question in the midst of a heated argument. Doing so is probably worth it though, and not just because one study suggests it helps stop arguments with your partner from flaming out of control. A whole body of research shows that your imagined future self is generally a whole lot wiser than your biased, emotional current self.

For example, one Wharton study asked study subjects to imagine themselves in 20 years and then write their current self a letter from that perspective. After reading these letters participants were far less likely to engage in ethically dicey behavior, such as buying a computer they knew might be stolen.

“If you have important goals, habits, and ideals you want to live by, the science is in,” noted one write-up of this research. “You can help yourself stick to them by writing yourself a letter. And, just like the research has shown, thinking about the distant future works better than thinking about the near term.”

I love this part of the article.

Why? Because I love to write.

Something I try to do nowadays is to write/journal to myself, and now I can write to my future self.

Hey! I am working on a book of poetry to myself from the past, to myself in the present, and to my future self. Imagine that!

Writing is so important. It is important to put pen to paper to write about your goals, to process the past, and to talk to yourself in the future. Getting in this habit will pay dividends for your goals and your relationships.

Hope this helps you in your relationships 😉

– Jason

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12 comments

  1. Hi Jason, Your first sentence had the word “divorce” in it and I debated reading further. I am glad that I did. I am in a long term marriage, and yet, I never take my marriage for granted. We go through different stages in life and different challenges and I appreciate tools I can immediately use. I don’t have the answer as to why one marriage continues and for others, it is best to move on. I appreciate your genuine, candid post. I appreciate you sharing. I am sure you have made a difference for many people, in their individual lives, and ultimately as a couple. Thank you:) Erica

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks again for sharing your honest insight. Having walked in the same shoes, I have to confess that divorce changes one’s life forever. It is my single greatest regret. For those couples contemplating divorce, I hope the husband and wife will patiently work through all options.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Jason,
    Please visit my blog and read my poem “Winter Wedding Remembering.” It is a candid and nostalgic look back at my first wedding when I was just 22. I had all those dreams of youth-endless love and the such. While it ended, I realize now that it was just a season in my life. One thing I learned is that I was not honest with myself; I wanted to conform to society’s expectations. Marriage was what was (and is) expected. It is my opinion that self-honesty is the only true way to find happiness and peace. I would do anything to avoid an argument way back then; I would agree just to keep the peace. In Martha Beck’s book “Finding Your Way in a Wild New World,” she writes that it is important to develop the courage to find our own truth-to speak our own truth in a transparent, authentic and open way. Organizational Behaviorist Chris Argyris discusses how never expressing negative feelings in a relationship disengages us from our inner truth. While considering how important a problem might be in twenty years might put some perspective to an argument, I still strongly advocate expressing your feelings as honestly as possible. What truly matters is the here and now and working through the here and now. I know this is a lengthy response, but when I think about divorce and marriage it really strikes a chord because there are so many different self-help perspectives out there. I just wanted to share with you what I have discovered to be extremely helpful for me in my own journey to wholeness. Blessings to you on your journey.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Jenny! I appreciate your perspective and honesty. I will look up your poem. I too had issues of avoiding, appeasing and not sharing my needs, enabling a co-dependet relationship. I am not advocating any of those bad habits.

      Like

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