My Relationship Journal: March
Lesson: Don’t Fight. Just Talk Instead.
Book Notes and Quotes:
The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages, Shaunte Feldhahn:
- “Don’t follow the traditional advice to never go to bed angry. By all means, crawl in and sleep! Be angry, feel your feelings fully, think it over a while. Then talk about the problem when you’re a bit more level-headed.”
Mindsight: The New Science of Personal Transformation, Daniel J. Siegel:
- Our brains are hard-wired for conflict and danger. Due to our heritage of difficult survival conditions, we’re often on the lookout for anything that threatens our sense of well-being—even in our relationships.
- When people get mad, the anger part of the brain (the amygdala) becomes highly active. This activity then partially overrides or obscures the activity in the places of the brain that are responsible for logic and reason. “I wasn’t acting like myself,” then, isn’t just a lame excuse for bad behavior. There is a lot of truth to it. Therefore, it’s best to wait out the anger before discussing a problem with your spouse.
For Better: How the Surprising Science of Happy Couples Can Help Your Marriage Succeed, Tara Parker-Pope:
- “The study showed that the nuanced first few minutes of an argument can set the tone for the entire fight, determining whether the discussion will be productive or harmful to your relationship. In fact . . . just watching the first three minutes of the conversation helped [researchers] predict which couples would stay married and who was headed for divorce during the next six years.”
- “Marriage studies show that one of the main differences between a good fight and a bad fight is whether it begins with a complaint or a criticism . . . Couples who engage in a harsh or brusque start-up–leveling harsh words and spiteful criticisms–are headed for trouble. Couples who launch conflict discussions carefully and gently are more likely to have a productive argument that strengthens, rather than weakens, their relationship.”
- “Speak in a slow, quiet voice. (No gritted teeth or seething tone.) Look your partner in the eyes. . . . If needed, take a time-out to collect your thoughts.”
- Use key phrases that help de-escalate an argument, such as: “It sounds like you’re saying,” “It seems like,” “What if,” “I know this is hard for you,” “What are your thoughts?” and “What are the next steps for us?”
Everything You Need to Know to Feel Go(o)d, Candace Pert
- Emotions are real. They’re a molecular entity. Once a feeling is established, it won’t die–give up its place in your body–without a fight.
- Cell receptors and the signals that direct them are, together, the “molecules of emotion.” There is also a ligand–a protein precursor–for each. The receptors wiggle and send vibrations to attract the proper ligand, like a lock and key mating. These vibrations and constant responses form a continuous electrical current throughout your body.
- When cell receptors don’t get the right ligands–the proteins that fit them to create the emotion you’re used to creating–the hypothalamus signals thoughts that trigger that emotion.
- To rewire your brain to get angry less often, regularly visualize a different outcome, idea or emotion, and “. . . train yourself to come from the highest possible ‘observer’–the subpersonality that’s most closely associated with the divine, or the higher self.” Do this through meditation or prayer.
My Relationship Resolutions:
- I will perform a pre-fight cost benefit analysis. Is the best possible outcome worth having the argument?
- I will start no unnecessary fights. Simple as that. When I get mad at Matthew about something minor, I’ll just let it go. The resentment won’t kill me; to the contrary, it’ll die out more quickly.
- If I decide the fight is worth it, I will wait a while before bringing it up.
- Rather than fighting, I will learn how to just talk. No snapping. No sarcasm. No condescension. No crankiness, even. I might even find space for a joke.
- I will focus on solutions.
- I will use “I” statements.
- I will not expect a verbal apology. I will understand that sometimes, apologies are disguised as actions rather than words.
- Above all, I will use a kind, respectful tone of voice.
For the Fridge:
- “I promise not to discuss an issue unless it’s worth the tension it will cause and unless I’ve given it some time.”
Read the rest of the series at Fights You’ll Have After Having a Baby: A Self-Help Novel.