Unless you’re one of those couples that is completely in sync and agrees about everything, chances are you and your partner have fights from time to time.
Research generally supports the idea that disagreements are normal and healthy in relationships. What really matters is the way that you fight, and how you resolve that conflict and move forwards.
So next time you get annoyed and start fighting with your other half, try this one little trick to resolve things and to feel happier in your relationship.
Ask yourself, “how will I feel about this current conflict in one year’s time?”
A study carried out by Huynh et al. in 2016 found that asking this question, and thinking about their conflicts in terms of the future, helps people to feel more positive about their relationship.
They found that when people think about their relationship from a future perspective, rather than how they’re feeling right now in the heat of the moment, they tend to feel more forgiving and see their relationship more positively.
One of the author’s of the study wrote:
“When romantic partners argue over things like finances, jealousy, or other interpersonal issues, they tend to employ their current feelings as fuel for a heated argument. By envisioning their relationship in the future, people can shift the focus away from their current feelings and mitigate conflicts”
The study asked two groups of people to think about an argument they had recently with their partner.
One half of the group were asked to explain how they felt about the argument at the time that it happened, while the other half were asked to imagine how they would feel about it in the future.
What the researchers found was that the group who imagined themselves in the future blamed their partners less for the argument, and were more forgiving. They also showed more insight into why the argument happened in the first place.
This group saw their relationship more positively than the group that weren’t thinking from a future perspective, and they also felt better about their relationship.
At the end of the study Huynh reported:
“Our study demonstrates that adopting a future-oriented perspective in the context of a relationship conflict — reflecting on how one might feel a year from now — may be a valuable coping tool for one’s psychological happiness and relationship well-being.”
It wasn’t mentioned in the study, but I think this could also be a useful strategy to use to stop some arguments happening in the first place.
If you get annoyed with something your partner does, and find yourself gearing up to start a fight about it, stop. Take a few minutes and ask yourself how you’ll feel about the issue in a year’s time. This time next year, will it still bother you that he left his dirty socks on the floor, or that she pulled all the covers over to her side of the bed? Probably not! So is it really worth picking a fight over it?
Do you think this would work for you in your relationship? Or do you tend to get so caught up in how you’re feeling in the middle of a row that you would find it hard to see things from a different perspective?
I’d love to hear what people have to say about this in the comments.