Not all relationships are destined to have a happy ending. The path to maintaining a happy and solid relationship does not have shortcuts. Large doses of love are needed and the same amount of commitment and dedication. However, it is also necessary to know when to put an end point. Sometimes you have to recognize the warning signs that a couple relationship is not on the right track and you need to rethink it from start to end.
Do you move forward or do you get stuck in the conflict?
All the couples argue. Conflicts and disagreements are not negative. In fact, they often help the couple to grow and put perspectives in common, which is why many come out stronger from these disagreements. Although not all.
A group of psychologists from the University of Minnesota revealed that the problem are not the arguments but what happens after them. These researchers recruited 73 couples and asked them to discuss a sensitive issue on which they disagreed for 10 minutes.
After the couple’s heated discussion, they were given a “cool down task” that lasted 4 minutes to get calm. Thus they noticed that some couples could go from a heated argument to a pleasant conversation without much effort. However, other couples got stuck in the conflict and couldn’t calm down.
When the researchers contacted the couples again after two years, they found that the ability to recover from conflict quickly was a reliable predictor of relationship stability. Those who were able to calm down quickly after an intense argument, reported higher relationship satisfaction and more positive emotions.
In contrast, those who got stuck in the conflict felt worse about the relationship or had experienced an arguing breakup. These psychologists concluded that “Couples who do not recover quickly from arguments are unlikely to stay together.”
It takes just one person who acts as a sedative to avoid breaking up due to arguments
The ability to recover after an argument, leaving negative feelings behind, is essential to avoid accumulating resentment and anger, two emotional states that end up undermining the foundations of any relationship.
The good news is that these psychologists found that only one partner needs to have this quality. Apparently, their ability to let go and retune their emotional state ends up “infecting” the partner, which benefits the relationship.
Interestingly, the ability to recover quickly from an argument dates back to childhood. People who had developed a secure attachment to their parents when they were young better regulate their emotional states in adulthood.
In practice, developing a secure attachment with our parents means trusting them and feeling protected. That type of attachment carries over to the relationships we maintain in adulthood. When we feel safe and trust our partner, it is easier for us to manage the negative emotions that can arise when we argue and we are able to let them go more quickly. This decreases the chances that the relationship will end in a breakup due to arguments and accumulated negative emotions.
Therefore, the next time you argue with your partner, pay attention to how long it takes you to recover. It can be a key indicator of the stability and quality of your relationship. And if you want to strengthen the bond, worry about resolving conflicts as a couple and forgive each other quickly.
Salvatore, J. E. et. Al. (2010) Recovering From Conflict in Romantic Relationships: A Developmental Perspective. Psychological Science; 2283): 10.1177.