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Couples Who Argue Have Better Relationships, According To Science

Couples Who Argue Have Better Relationships, According To Science

Guess what? You’re off the hook. You don’t need to sit around wonder if all the arguing means that your relationship is doomed. Science says that, that isn’t the case.

Recently, a survey was done in India among married couples to figure out how much arguing affected their relationship. And it turns out that 44% of responders attribute part of their marital success to how much they argue. They said that fighting more than once a week helps keep the lines of communication open.

And that isn’t all, another study done over 14 years found that couples who argued often and in a peaceful manner were more likely not be separated. This study followed 79 married couples across the US Midwest. According to FamilyShare, the common thread between the strongest couples is that they argued, and immediately talked openly and honestly about the argument.

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Arguing for A Healthy Relationship

First, there is a difference between fighting and arguing. Arguing is a healthy way to get emotions out on the table. In fact, the quickest relationship killer is allowing your emotions to stew. Next thing you know, you’re a bomb waiting to explode. It isn’t a matter of if at this point, it’s a matter of when your emotions will get the better of you and you’ll have a relationship altering fight.

Without question, letting your emotions stew will lead to resentment.

And, frankly, arguments are just part of a relationship that isn’t boring. In fact, in this article at the Star Tribune, Sandy Burris, who’s been married almost 60 years, says, “We do [argue all the time]. There are a lot of things we don’t agree on. If we did agree all the time, it would be boring.”

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If you’ve been married happily for that long, you must be doing something right. I’m sure you can remember a relationship that just went stale when you’ve been thinking just tell me I did something wrong for once!

As for kids, many family counselors site peaceful arguing as part of a positive model, as William Doherty, a professor in the University of Minnesota’s Department of Family Social Science stated. “If they never see you argue, they’re going to get a very unrealistic image of marriage,” he said, “If it’s hostile, contemptuous, full of shouting and name-calling, that’s bad. But if it’s a small irritation that is addressed respectfully and the kids see that 15 minutes later you’ve gotten over it and everything is fine again, that’s helpful.”

The point is, you can’t play the blame game and expect your kids to grow positively, but you can teach them by example that it’s okay to disagree. It’s easy to show them that you can argue, come to a compromise, and still love each other fully. It seems that arguing is healthy for everyone involved, not just the couple. Arguing isn’t just a magic pill. There are obvious reasons why arguing makes couples stay together longer.

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1. There’s No Resentment Between Partners

If you’re constantly holding it it, there will be resentment. The healthiest way to deal with negative feelings is to get them out in the open!

2. Couples Who Argue See Themselves as Equals

In a relationship is so important for partners to be on a level playing field. No one wins if someone is dominant over the other. And that’s what happens when couples don’t argue. Let’s face it, all people feel the need to stand their ground. In a relationship, if you don’t stand your ground and argue, you’re showing your partner that their opinion is more important, and they can have whatever they want. That’s the road to an unhealthy relationship.

3. Couples Who Challenge Each Other, Grow Together

It’s no secret that the quickest way to grow as a person is to overcome challenges. It’s also no secret that good relationships require both partners to push the other to be the best version of themselves. When arguing with a partner, it doesn’t matter if you win or lose. You will learn a lot about each other, and more importantly yourself. You’ll learn how to lose better, you will learn how to win with sportsmanship, and you’ll learn how to compromise more. These are all valuable traits in all parts of life.

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If you want a healthy relationship, you shouldn’t avoid arguments. However, you shouldn’t go pick a fight with your spouse as soon as you’re done reading this. The bigger point here is that all people argue, and the way you argue is really important.

It’s important that arguments aren’t fights or all out wars. They need to be peaceful. And you should practice listening with the intent of understanding your partner, not so you can find our opportunity to speak. Next time you get in an argument with your partner, remember that you’re strengthening your bond if you’re doing it right.

Featured photo credit: Daily Record via dailyrecord.co.uk

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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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