In my private practice, Iíve often heard couples state that they never argueóand they make this statement proudly. When I hear this proclamation, I see a "red flag" being waved in front of me. The truth is that couples are going to have conflictsóitís to be expected in your relationship. So, when there are no arguments in your marriage, it may very well be that the two of you donít feel comfortable enough with one another to have a disagreement.
As a relationships expert in the public eye, I see one of my roles as helping to enlighten you as to the accurate information about you and your mate. When you have solid information, youíre better equipped to have the best relationship possible. And so, in this article I want to present you with facts and clarify some myths you may have. If I can help you with greater understanding, you will hopefully share a much more satisfying life with one another.
So, why do I say that conflicts are bound to happen in your relationship? If you think about it, it really does make sense. When youíre involved with someone regularly and that someone is a person with whom you are close, your emotions get entangled. When something problematic arises, emotions are likely to get triggered. Accompanying your emotions will also be a bodily reaction because your body is designed to help you deal with stress. So, at the very least, when you experience negative emotions, hormones will be released.
Some of you donít feel comfortable expressing your feelings (or donít do so properly). And though you donít give an outward manifestation to what you are feeling, do not make the mistake that by ignoring them, theyíll go away. Iím reminded of a past client who entered my office announcing that she thought Iíd be so proud of her because sheíd gotten upset with her spouse several times but didnít say a word. No!
You may think the feelings go away because youíre not consciously responding to them; that they have just gone underground, so to speak. I could make the comparison to sweeping dirt under a carpetóyou may not be able to see the dirt, but itís still there and it will trip you up.
Be very clear that unexpressed emotions will eventually impact negatively on you. Recently, there was a study that found that couples who donít argue with each other actually end up dying sooner.
Arguing, in and of itself, is not the key to a good relationship. Research done by Dr. John Gottman has found that couples who know how to manage conflicts properly fare much better. When feelings arenít expressed appropriately, it can be quite destructive to your mate and your partnership. The good news is that there are skills that can be learned to handle conflict. (For those of you who donít know, I remind you that I offer a free teleseminar, "The 7 Tools to Manage Communication Conflict in Your Relationship." You can listen to a recording of it at: http://choicerelationships.com/teleseminar_resources
Going to Bed Angry
I would guess that most of you have been taught that you should never go to bed angry. If you believe this then either thereís a lot of very tired peopleÖor many of you who think youíre doing something wrong. Well, I have good news!
It turns out that this is a myth. In reality, there are just times that you and your spouse are not able to settle your disagreement before you go to sleep. By attempting to stay up and resolve the issue, itís likely to not only be fruitless but counterproductive. Disagreements are best handled when emotions are not still highly energized; when they are, you canít really speak about them in the best possible way. To try to talk when one or both of you is still really upset is basically going to lead nowhere. So, itís far better to agree that the concern does need to be talked about but at a time when you are both ready. Whatís key is to make sure you follow through on this agreement and get back to your discussion.
So, donít be afraid to have conflicts, approach them with the right skills, and enjoy a long happy life together!
Karen Sherman, Ph.D., (www.drkarensherman.com) is a practicing psychologist in relationships and lifestyle issues for over 20 years. She offers teleseminars and is the author of "Mindfulness and the Art of Choice: Transform Your Life" and co-author of "Marriage Magic! Find It, Keep It, and Make it Last." You can sign up for her free monthly newsletter with relationship tips at www.ChoiceRelationships.com