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Argue With Your Partner Over Small Things Often? Science Says It’s Good For Your Relationship

Argue With Your Partner Over Small Things Often? Science Says It’s Good For Your Relationship

Relationships aren’t always easy. Arguments and disagreements are expected when two people with different life experiences, views and perspectives come together. But how often are we told that arguing with our partner means the relationship is doomed? That disagreeing often is a sign that you just aren’t compatible? Well, if you find you bicker a lot with your loved one there may be a saving grace – science says it is, in fact, a great indicator for your relationship and here’s how.

Love Isn’t An Easy Street

As much as love is portrayed as romantic and against-all-odds fantastic, the reality is that relationships and marriage takes work to cultivate and bloom. There’s so much psychological research based on why marriages fail but not nearly as much asking what actually makes marriages succeed.

It’s this perspective that has led us to believe that arguing is a negative sign of failure and incompatibility with someone we love. While extreme hurtful arguing is detrimental to each other, research suggests that a healthy relationship is one that includes disagreements on a regular basis.

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How Arguing Helps Your Relationship To Last

We all know communication is the key to any successful relationship.[1]

While most of us think of this as calmly sitting on the sofa and bringing up worries or concerns to our partner, in real life this is rarely the case.

After all, we’re all human and we all have our bad days, our bad reactions to words and situations and so arguments are bound to happen. In essence, couples who argue are communicating and this is the lynchpin to any successful relationship. Granted it may not seem like the most ideal way to communicate, but actually getting our opinions and viewpoints out is much better than keeping them to ourselves and letting them stew.

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Jonah Lehrer, author of A Book About Love, looked closely into how fighting in a relationship is actually a good thing rather than a negative.

“According to the scientists, spouses who complain to each other the most, and complain about the least important things, end up having more lasting relationships. In contrast, couples with high negativity thresholds—they only complain about serious problems—are much more likely to get divorced.”

So arguing about the little things keeps your relationship ticking over much better than saving it for what would be deemed the serious and more important stuff.

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How Not Fighting Indicates An Unhealthy Relationship

Okay, arguing from day one may be an unhealthy sign but once we settle into a relationship it’s at this time when the real dynamics start to show.

Lehrer delves deeper into research done by John Gottman, who set up the Gottman Institute dedicating reseach-based methods to strengthen relationships. Gottman’s studies have revealed that, at a certain stage of a relationship where you’re revealing your true-selves to each other, if you’re not arguing then it could be a sign that you’ve lost emotional investment in the other person.

“Gottman’s research shows that 3 years into the relationship, if you’re not fighting, that’s the indicator of an unhealthy relationship. At that point, you’re not holding in your farts anymore. You’re fully intimate. You’ve seen where they’ve got hair, you’ve smelled their morning breath. You’re not holding anything back. So if you’re not fighting, it’s often a sign of withdrawal. In a sense, you can look at complaining and fighting in an intimate relationship as just ways of showing you care.”[2]

Of course, no one should be unhappy in a relationship but emotionally intelligent arguing or even general bickering is a sign that you’re invested and willing to communicate, therefore keeping your relationship ticking over.

So, for those of you that believe arguing is a sign of impending doom for your relationship then think again. In fact, it’s a sign that you’re not only passionate about the other person and the relationship, but most importantly communication is abundant showing you a positive sign that your partnership is probably much stronger than you think.

Reference

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Jenny Marchal

Freelance Writer

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Last Updated on February 21, 2019

The Secret to Effective Conflict Resolution: The IBR Approach

The Secret to Effective Conflict Resolution: The IBR Approach

In business, in social relationships, in family… In whatever context conflict is always inevitable, especially when you are in the leader role. This role equals “make decisions for the best of majority” and the remaining are not amused. Conflicts arise.

Conflicts arise when we want to push for a better quality work but some members want to take a break from work.

Conflicts arise when we as citizens want more recreational facilities but the Government has to balance the needs to maintain tourism growth.

Conflicts are literally everywhere.

Avoiding Conflicts a No-No and Resolving Conflicts a Win-Win

Avoiding conflicts seem to be a viable option for us. The cruel fact is, it isn’t. Conflicts won’t walk away by themselves. They will, instead, escalate and haunt you back even more when we finally realize that’s no way we can let it be.

Moreover, avoiding conflicts will eventually intensify the misunderstanding among the involved parties. And the misunderstanding severely hinders open communication which later on the parties tend to keep things secret. This is obviously detrimental to teamwork.

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Some may view conflicts as the last step before arguments. And they thus leave it aside as if they never happen. This is not true.

Conflicts are the intersect point between different individuals with different opinions. And this does not necessarily lead to argument.

Instead, proper handling of conflicts can actually result in a win-win situation – both parties are pleased and allies are gained. A better understanding between each other and future conflicts are less likely to happen.

The IBR Approach to Resolve Conflicts

Here, we introduce to you an effective approach to resolve conflicts – the Interest-Based Relational (IBR) approach. The IBR approach was developed by Roger Fisher and William Ury in their 1981 book Getting to Yes. It stresses the importance of the separation between people and their emotions from the problem. Another focus of the approach is to build mutual understanding and respect as they strengthen bonds among parties and can ultimately help resolve conflicts in a harmonious way. The approach suggests a 6-step procedure for conflict resolution:

Step 1: Prioritize Good Relationships

How? Before addressing the problem or even starting the discussion, make it clear the conflict can result in a mutual trouble and through subsequent respectful negotiation the conflict can be resolved peacefully. And that brings the best outcome to the whole team by working together.

Why? It is easy to overlook own cause of the conflict and point the finger to the members with different opinions. With such a mindset, it is likely to blame rather than to listen to the others and fail to acknowledge the problem completely. Such a discussion manner will undermine the good relationships among the members and aggravate the problem.

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Example: Before discussion, stress that the problem is never one’s complete fault. Everyone is responsible for it. Then, it is important to point out our own involvement in the problem and state clearly we are here to listen to everyone’s opinions rather than accusing others.

Step 2: People Are NOT the Cause of Problem

How? State clearly the problem is never one-sided. Collaborative effort is needed. More importantly, note the problem should not be taken personally. We are not making accusations on persons but addressing the problem itself.

Why? Once things taken personally, everything will go out of control. People will become irrational and neglect others’ opinions. We are then unable to address the problem properly because we cannot grasp a fuller and clearer picture of the problem due to presumption.

Example: In spite of the confronting opinions, we have to emphasize that the problem is not a result of the persons but probably the different perspectives to view it. So, if we try to look at the problem from the other’s perspective, we may understand why there are varied opinions.

Step 3: Listen From ALL Stances

How? Do NOT blame others. It is of utmost importance. Ask for everyone’s opinions. It is important to let everyone feel that they contribute to the discussion. Tell them their involvement is essential to solve the problem and their effort is very much appreciated.

Why? None wants to be ignored. If one feels neglected, it is very likely for he/she to be aggressive. It is definitely not what we hope to see in a discussion. Acknowledging and being acknowledged are equally important. So, make sure everyone has equal opportunity to express their views. Also, realizing their opinions are not neglected, they will be more receptive to other opinions.

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Example: A little trick can played here: Invite others to talk first. It is an easy way to let others feel involved and ,more importantly, know their voices are heard. Also, we can show that we are actively listening to them by giving direct eye-contact and nodding. One important to note is that never interrupt anyone. Always let them finish first beforeanother one begins.

Step 4: Listen Comes First, Talk Follows

How? Ensure everyone has listened to one another points of view. It can be done by taking turn to speak and leaving the discussion part at last. State once again the problem is nothing personal and no accusation should be made.

Why? By turn-taking, everyone can finish talking and voices of all sides can be heard indiscriminantly. This can promote willingness to listen to opposing opinions.

Example: We can prepare pieces of paper with different numbers written on them. Then, ask different members to pick one and talk according to the sequence of the number. After everyone’s finished, advise everyone to use “I” more than “You” in the discussion period to avoid others thinking that it is an accusation.

Step 5: Understand the Facts, Then Address the Problem

How? List out ALL the facts first. Ask everyone to tell what they know about the problems.

Why? Sometimes your facts are unknown to the others while they may know something we don’t. Missing out on these facts could possibly lead to inaccurate capture of the problem. Also, different known facts can lead to different perception of the matter. It also helps everyone better understand the problem and can eventually help reach a solution.

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Example: While everyone is expressing their own views, ask them to write down everything they know that is true to the problem. As soon as everyone has finished, all facts can be noted and everyone’s understanding of the problem is raised.

Step 6: Solve the Problem Together

How? Knowing what everyone’s thinking, it is now time to resolve the conflict. Up to this point, everyone should have understood the problem better. So, it is everyone’s time to suggest some solutions. It is important not to have one giving all the solutions.

Why? Having everyone suggesting their solutions is important as they will not feel excluded and their opinions are considered. Besides, it may also generate more solutions that can better resolve the conflicts. Everyone will more likely be satisfied with the result.

Example: After discussion, ask all members to suggest any possible solutions and stress that all solutions are welcomed. State clearly that we are looking for the best outcomes for everyone’s sake rather than battling to win over one another. Then, evaluate all the solutions and pick the one that is in favor of everyone.

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