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Fighting Boosts Your Bond

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Quarreling with your guy? Not only is it normal, it's healthy!


Your guy is wonderful. He's smart, funny, and you melt when he plays with the kids. But sometimes his cleaning skills aren't always spot on, or your ideas about saving money vastly differ. Sure, it's normal to be irked by your hubby sometimes, but did you know those little spats are actually good for your bond?

Scientists at the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research found that while the things that bug you about your spouse may never change, your squabbles are a sign you two are closer than ever.

"As we age and become closer and more comfortable with one another, it could be that we're more able to express ourselves to each other," said lead study author Kira Birditt, a research fellow at the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research. "In other words, it's possible that negativity is a normal aspect of close relationships that include a great deal of daily contact."

So if you can't help but speak up when he doesn't wipe kitchen counter, it's likely because you take your bond as a given and feel good letting him know whatever's on your mind.

This study supports past research about the benefits of anger. A study conducted by the University of California at Santa Barbara showed when people argue, they make better decisions, because anger triggers the brain to ignore outside distractions and focus on the matter at hand.

"It's true that anger can motivate you to makes changes in your relationship, but it all depends on how you use it," says Jane Greer, Ph.D., a marriage and family therapist in New York City. "The key is to cool off first so you don't say something you'll regret. Instead, take a step back and ask yourself, Why am I so angry? How can we both fix this? When you use your anger to problem solve--not lash out--you'll feel in control of your decisions and in turn more optimistic about your union."  

And here's the best news: As time goes by, things do look up. In the study, young married people (ages 20-30) had the most conflict in their relationship, while older couples had the least negativity. Why? "Over time, couples learn to work around each other's quirks. His habits may still annoy you, but your acceptance level and conflict-resolution skills improve," says Greer.

Fess up: What annoys you most about your husband?

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3 comments so far | Post a comment now
Lashawn June 29, 2008, 10:39 AM

Actually what drives me crazy is my husband doesn’t seem to want to tell his family know,it’s always me alomg with our children comes last and at the point where this marriage is going to end.
Everyone is pleased but his wife and children.He figures if I’m always taking care of the children and making sure everything is done I’m going to do it anyway.
So that leaves me on the edge of always being tired and stressed out.From cleaning the whole house all the cooking and cleaning as well as the shopping.You name it I’m doing it myself.
If his mom needs the grass cut or anything he’ll run over and cut hers. But our garabage ,or grass is’nt cut yet.And it’s been two weeks.

Anonymous July 22, 2008, 12:47 AM

Yeah, my husband loves helping his grandparents.. which I know they need it but when it comes to things like helping me with the kids so I can cook I have to fight or starve.. My husband tried to do dishes once but it was in cold water.. I told him that it wasn’t sanitary but he said that your suppose to do it that way.. When he is at home he reads his gun magazine and plans on what he wants to buy but there are days he spends time with the kids which is every so often. I agree when we fight we feel closer but sometimes I feel like I need to just snap before he even acknowledge that I exist unless its supper time…

K January 26, 2009, 3:48 PM

I am a forty year old man who has recently discoverd that his wife of 20+ years (10 married) has been secretly chatting and making arrangements to meet men. After confronting her about the situation and asking her to explain why she cannot be the way she talks on line with me, her husband - she says that I’m the one to blame. I am not at all doing well at the moment. I am suffering a deep sense of low self-esteme. This sort of thing only happens in magazines and I am not the type who knows how to handle the situation. How can I survive this and what do I need to say/do. My wife says that nothing happened, but something did - she was caught pretending to be something to others and meeting them for lunches when I was working and her kids in school. I am really, really afraid for the future now. Do I leave her? Can I ever get this out of my mind? What do I do - please help! K

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