How to End Pandemic Fights With Your Partner

How to End Pandemic Fights With Your Partner
By Stephen Marche
June 8, 2020

Fighting in close quarters doesn’t just fill us with the sense of threat. It physically hurts us. Claudia Haase, a developmental psychologist who has studied the effects on couples who fight over long periods of time, has seen how the physiology of fighting affects the health of partners.

“Anger activates the cardiovascular system, so it makes your blood pressure go up, it makes your heart rate go up,” she said. Over time, that struggle can have serious physical consequences.

“We found that based on 15 minutes of a marital disagreement conversation, we could predict the development of physical health symptoms over 20 years,” Dr. Haase said. The effects, found in research reported in 2016 in the journal Emotion, were particularly strong for husbands. “If they showed high anger behavior, they had a heightened risk of developing at least one cardiovascular problem, such as high blood pressure, diagnosed heart problem, pain in the chest. If they showed stonewalling behavior, they were really at risk for developing back pain or neck pain or some sort of chronic muscle tension.”

All that is to say, your partner can literally be a pain in the neck.

Since fighting is a physiological response, the simplest way to get out of a fight is to lower the physical effects. It is essential to remember that fighting is not an intellectual process. Fighting is not a way to communicate a position.
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