Tag Archives: tips for a better marriage

Why Arguments Spiral Out of Control in Relationships

When you are in the heat of an argument, your brain seems to be fixed on “hot,” doesn’t it? It’s not just you.

Your brain clusters memory by emotions, explained a recent article by SmartRelationships.org. What this means is that when we are sad, all we can recall at that moment are sad memories. When we are angry, we can only recall moments when we were angry. When we are happy, we recall only happy memories. “This explains why arguments can so easily descend into a long list of past offenses.”

You’ve been there, right? During the disagreement, you can’t remember all the good reasons you married your spouse. You can’t access your positive feelings. This is why saddle bagging (bringing up old hurts and conflicts) is so common. You suddenly have access to all these negative memories that were hidden to you before the argument.

What can you do to counter this tendency? Waiting a little while to allow yourself to gain perspective can help you return to a happier place where you can access positive memories again.

This concept of memory clustering is a relatively new concept for me, and one I think we would do well to remember ourselves and to educate others about when they are in conflict, especially older kids and teens. “Let them know that when it seems like the end of the world, it’s only the brain being unable to access memories from a different emotional state,” according to SmartRelationships.org.

What this has to do with is developing resilience and emotional intelligence in your marriage. Sometimes you have to “unstick” your mind by focusing on something else, or by being willing to step away until you are calm. You can help increase resilience in your marriage by offering care and support and by developing a better ability to manage strong feelings and impulses.  You can only control your own reactions and behavior.

Remember that if you both didn’t care so much you wouldn’t be as upset as you are about your differences. After calming down, take time to listen and focus on effective communication (not just getting your point across). Focus on your goal of working through the issue toward better understanding for the future, rather than focusing on “winning” the argument.

What goes through your mind during the heat of an argument? Is this issue of memory clustering harder for you or your spouse to get past?

Lori Lowe is the author of First Kiss to Lasting Bliss: Hope & Inspiration for Your Marriage. It tells the inspiring, true stories of couples who used adversity to improve their marriages–from overcoming drug addiction to cancer, infidelity, religious differences, family interference and infertility, among many others. It’s available at Amazon.com and in all e-book formats at www.LoriDLowe.com.

Photo courtesy of Liz Noffsinger/Freedigitalphotos.net.

Are You Jealous of Your Friend’s Divorce?

Did you know divorce is contagious? If you have a divorced friend, you are 147 percent more likely to get a divorce! One reason is that when a friend or family member divorces, it normalizes divorce and makes it seem more acceptable. Sometimes, they can even make it look fun. But there’s nothing fun about divorce, especially after the first three months of freedom wear off.

I was asked by fellow blogger Stacy Geisinger (StacyKnows.com) to write about these feelings of jealousy which can be common among the still-married friends. These friends may see the new doors and possibilities open for the divorced person, as well as their new found lack of responsibilities and the freedom to go and do as they please.

I don’t have the experience of being a divorced woman (although I’ve had friends and family divorce), but the following article that was recently published on Huffington Post is a must-read for anyone even remotely considering divorce: Wasbeens and Wives: 7 reasons to stay married. It’s funny and serious at the same time.

Don’t be tricked by the shiny new opportunities of someone with divorce papers still hot off the printer. Here’s what your friends probably won’t admit:

1. Going out with single friends is fun, but just for a short while. After that, they realize that true companionship has a lot more going for it than the singles scene does. Loneliness is not just about being alone; it’s about not having a mate to share the joys and sorrows of life and child rearing.

2. Being a single parent is harder than almost any other job. Helping kids through a divorce is even more difficult than negotiating with your ex. Children of divorce die an average of five years earlier than people who grew up in intact families. And, they have more academic, mental, emotional and health problems. The instability of divorce affects the foundation of their identity, and that instability is never completely repaired. Even if your kids are in college, a parental divorce can be very difficult for them.

3. When a divorced woman is ready to date again, she often finds herself dealing with many of the same issues with men as she did with her ex, plus some new ones. You don’t get rid of your relationship problems with divorce; you just trade them for new problems. (Read We all married the wrong person.)

4. Most divorcees are not living high on the hog with fat alimony checks. In fact, their standard of living generally declines if they weren’t the breadwinner. The fights about money after the divorce are usually much worse than the ones that occurred during the marriage. Now, there are just more people involved.

5. Down the road after the anger has dissipated, two-thirds of divorced people admit they and their spouse didn’t work hard enough to save the marriage. They face lifelong wounds and often regret the decision. In fact, they are often jealous of you, the married friend, the one with a husband waiting for you at home after you go out for drinks with your girlfriends.

The truth is when we have problems in our marriage, we are quick to blame our partner and quicker yet to rationalize why we are blameless. But if we make the decision to focus on pleasing our partner and meeting our own needs (instead of making our mate responsible for meeting all of them and “making us happy”, the relationship dynamic changes and improves.

In part 2, I will address how to keep your marriage interesting and lively so that you aren’t tempted to be jealous when a friend “breaks free” of their marriage.

I wrote this as a guest post for StacyKnows.

Part 2–How to keep your marriage exciting so you aren’t tempted to be jealous when a friend “breaks free” of their marriage.

Have you ever been jealous of a single friend’s life?

Photo by wikipedia