How to Cope With the Bumpy Spots in a Relationship

You have built yourself up as an individual and grown strong. You have found the person, who you believe, is the love of your life. What about those potholes that every car finds and that every healthy relationship has. How do you cope with that? Read this article to help you learn.


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    Understand that it is impossible to have a healthy relationship without a disagreement now and then. However, a lot of promising research that has emerged from the Gottman research and other institutions is giving our society a better idea of what behavior leads to healthy marriages.
    • Surprisingly, the number of arguments a couple has is not the issue at hand.
    • In fact, it was found that all couples have some unresolved issues, but successful couples are comfortably able to live with these issues.
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    Lay Down "Rules of Engagement". Agree on rules for handling disagreements and stick to them. The rule list should be short and broad rather than overly specific, should be contributed to by both parties equally, and should contain a route to resolution. Some suggestions and ideas for starting your own list could include:
    • Never leave in the middle of an argument. (this includes walking away, leaving the room, hanging up on the other person, etc,)
    • Never go to bed angry. Sleep is the time for the body and mind to restore and heal. This gives you a clean slate for the next day and allows your sleep period to be a more restful and healing one.
    • Never dredge up past mistakes or grudges. Stick to the present. Accept that no one is perfect and move on.
    • If you are wrong, admit it. Even if you feel you are right, but you can see some part of the other person's position, say so. You will gain respect and give you both room to compromise. (Remember, compromise can be described as a partial gain and loss on both sides. Do your best to make the gain on each side a fulfilling one. If both parties are actively trying to solve the problem, it will dissipate much of the emotional aspect of the argument)
    • The person that is deemed to be right must give the other person a sincere apology. Why? Because the person who is deemed wrong is the one whose feelings need some TLC. Also, it is much easier to admit you are wrong if you know the other person will acknowledge it in a caring manner rather than gloating or acting superior. It may seem a little silly, but that little bit of humor may just be the salvation of a relationship. Very often it is the little things that work the best.
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    Do not suppress emotions or pretend there is no problem. Not acknowledging problems, niggles, irritations, and negative feelings causes some of the highest rates of divorce.
    • Contempt, eye rolling, discounting the other person's opinion, and showing disrespect are also extremely predictive of marriage failure.
    • Men are especially sensitive to criticism, and criticism and harshness towards men is a high predictor of divorce. Living together has been shown to have no relationship to eventual marital success (and may even have a negative effect).
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    Keep YouTube's of humor. Humor can be a useful tool. It can be a powerful influence in diffusing emotionally intense situations, but it must be used with care. Do not engage in humor at the other's expense. Avoid sarcasm or other hurtful jabs. Also, do not use humor to belittle what the other person is feeling. Laughter releases endorphins that helps one relax and clears the mind. Making a joke that both can relate to, whether or not it involves the topic being discussed, can make the disagreement more tolerable.
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    Remember that "Flooding" a man with emotions is a high predictor of divorce.
    • Talk to friends first, organize your thoughts, and focus on simply expressing your feelings instead of judgments. Instead of "You always..." say, "I felt sad or hurt or angry..."
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    Know that couples who end up being successful, while in love, are not the couples who get married while still "starry-eyed".
    • In fact, those couples are more likely to divorce. The strongest couples have settled down from the initial hormone rush to a more stable love before marriage.
    • However, loss of love and affection is a more important determinant of divorce than conflict.
    • According to one article covering Gottman's work, "Those who remained happily married were very "in love" and affectionate as newlyweds. They showed less ambivalence, expressed negative feelings less often and viewed their mate more positively than other couples. Most important, these feelings remained stable over time."
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    Keep in mind honesty, intimacy, and realism are important, and "whirlwind romances" rarely make it.
    • Teenage marriages have 2-3 times the likelihood of divorce and waiting until age 22 to marry significantly decreases chance of divorce (however, waiting too long also has a negative influence on divorce rates and may signal overly picky behavior).
    • The highest success is found between the ages of 23 to 27 (University of Texas sociology professor Norval Glenn. National Fatherhood Initiative).
    • Premarital classes cut divorce rates by about a third.
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    Know that similarity in values, backgrounds, and goals are a good predictor of success.
    • College education is also a very strong predictor. Among educated people who wait until after college to marry, divorce rates are well below the national average of about 50%.
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    Do not engage in 'intense' arguments. One important aspect that has emerged from the Gottman Institute is the importance of refusing to engage in overly emotional disagreements.
    • When involved in arguments with a man, it is essential for you to maintain personal dignity.
    • You should be more calm when arguing that you even are normally. While this is not quite fair, someone must be proactive and mature.
    • Reasoning with a partner will only cause emotional withdrawal, which is, again, a high predictor for divorce.
    • Over time, rising above and refusing to engage in volatile arguments will teach your partner to hold himself to a higher standard.
    • At the very least, he will certainly respect you for not allowing him to disrespect you.
    • If a fight begins to emerge, simply state, "I care about you and your opinion, but I will not have an emotionally charged argument with you. I will give you some time to gather your thoughts and come back (tonight, tomorrow, etc) to discuss this."
    • This allows you to reassure him but still not allow yourself to be subjected to disrespect.
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    Observe reactions to events. Another important factor, in research from Shelly Gable, shows that reactions to events in the partners life are highly predictive of success as well.
    • In fact, Gable went as far as to say that the only "correct" reaction was an enthusiastic one praising the partner for positive developments, but added that an occasional passive reaction would not cause divorce.
    • With the benefit of research, we now have a more realistic view of how marriage works. Emotional maturity, including resisting the urge to attack a man or flood him with emotion, are high predictors of success. Working constructively to address and resolve conflict instead of avoiding it, valuing your partner's opinions and emotions, and accepting irreconcilable differences are also strong indicators for success. Waiting until after college and a realistic image of your partner are also very important. With this realistic, research-based view of marriage, you have stronger tools to build a trusting base for your relationship.

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Categories: Commitment Issues