Sunday, February 5, 2012

Conflict and Health

               Fight fair…….
Today’s health and beauty buzz is on the effect that conflict has on health.
Conflict can jeopardize your own health as well as your partner’s health.
  1. There is a rise in cytokines (proteins) which impair the immune system.
  2. Hardening of the coronary arteries leading to health problems including heart attack.
  3. Studies have shown that a high level of parental conflict can wreak havoc on the lives of their children.
  4. Stress which contributes to illness such as arthritis, cancer and diabetes.
Conflict in a relationship is inevitable. No two people can possibly agree upon everything in life and it is impossible to always get along with everyone you encounter. My husband and I recently celebrated out 26th wedding anniversary.  I married my first and only boyfriend whom I began dating at age 15.  We certainly have had our fair share of fights over the years but fortunately have always been able to reach a compromise on major issues.
Arguing can be a sign that your relationship is strong and passionate.  Squelching anger especially if you feel that you have been wronged is dangerous and can also cause serious health consequences. Spats are a necessary evil. Express anger and emotions sooner than later but if unresolved, you can go to bed angry and sleep on it!

Causes of marital strife:
  1. Money- the number one cause of marital strife.
  2. Children- different parenting views are a major source of disagreement.
  3. Household chores- the distribution of chores are often bones of contention.
  4. Irritating habits- certain habits can drive you crazy. Don’t be afraid to point them out.
  5. Family- in-laws have been the butt of jokes forever. Parents, step children, siblings and in-laws can all create conflict. Sometimes it is best to just hold your tongue and hope they leave quickly.
  6. Friends- Sometimes friends don’t necessarily have your best interest at heart and can be a negative influence.
  7. Infidelity- this can be devastating. There are many reasons why people cheat. Some include boredom in the marriage, curiosity, anger at your partner, unhappiness within the marriage, feeling trapped or simply being attracted to someone else. Women tend to look for emotional involvement and link sex with love. Men’s involvement is often primarily sexual.
  8. Expectations- sometimes we just expect too much from our partner and marriage is the opposite of what we had hoped for.

 We all have our own style of fighting. These are tips on ways to fight fair:-
  1. Choose your words carefully and no name calling. Your hurtful words can never be retrieved and can cause irreparable damage. Take a time out and resume your discussion when you are
  2. Avoid character assassination. Criticism is a common way to express anger but can be very harmful to a marriage as it is a personal attack. Exercise self control.
  3. Don’t run away. Avoidance or turning your back on an argument settles nothing. If you need to calm down, tell your spouse so and resume in 10 minutes.
  4. Keep your conversation to the point. There is no point in rehashing old grudges.
  5. Deal with what it is that is really bothering you.
  6. Choose your battles. Forget about the toilet seat, toothpaste cap, dishes left in the sink or clothes thrown on the floor. Try not to sweat the small stuff even if it does drive you crazy! Picking your battles applies to parent/child conflict too.
  7. Keep your fight private. Don’t involve your children or anyone else who may be present.
  8. Keep the conversation calm and civil. Avoid shouting and yelling.
  9. Accept the apology. It is important not to draw out the fight.
  10. Decide who is going to talk first and then switch. Keep silent whilst the other person has their say.
  11. Be realistic and own up to your part of the fight.
  12. Try to find the humor in it if you can. Laughter is important for well being.
  13. Remember what’s important. Do you really want to hurt the person you are supposed to love? 
No marriage is perfect and it is all a matter of compromise.
Some people say that love is blind. Studies show that couples who idealized each other before they got married, seemed to be happier and more satisfied in the long term. The way we see ourselves is fairly accurate. The way we see others is often shaped by hope.

Ways to avoid conflict:-
  • Don’t be over critical. We are entitled to our own points of view. Agree to
  • Have reasonable expectations. We are all human and make mistakes.
  • Spend time apart.  The decision should be based on what works best for you as a couple. Taking a break allows you to reconnect with yourself. Not all couples are comfortable spending time apart. Does absence make the heart grow fonder?
  • Spend time with your friends- Relationships with your friends are completely different from the relationship you have with your partner or your children. “Girls and Boys” nights out are healthy, enjoyable and necessary.
  • Spend quality time together. Arrange date nights or weekends where you concentrate and reconnect with each other. If you are watching your pennies then go for a drive, take a walk or take a picnic to the beach or a park.
  • Learn to enjoy your own company. Many people hate to be alone and often make decisions based upon this fear.  Enjoy your hobbies and personal growth.
  • Verbalize your feelings. Your partner cannot guess what you want or how you feel.
  • Make major decisions together reflecting both party’s desires and concerns.
  • Mutually respect each other’s interests, hobbies and career choices. They are equally important as yours even if you may not think so.
  • Respect each other’s privacy.  Don’t go through each others emails, cell phone messages, desk, purse, closet or car. We have the right to privacy even in marriage.  If you feel the need to snoop for whatever reason, there is a problem which needs to be addressed.  Discuss and agree on privacy boundaries with your partner.
Stay happy, healthy and safe.

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