A new study offers insights on healthy fighting.
Fighting sucks, but it happens in almost every relationship, so for healthy coupledom you have to know how to deal with arguments and anger. According to a study at U Mich, the best solution for processing negative feelings is to step back from the emotions and try to evaluate what happened from a distance.
It sounds like common sense—you've probably heard, or said, "I need a second to calm down," or "let's think about this rationally"—but there are subtle differences in the way you think about the experience and your emotions that can help or hinder your ability to effectively deal with adversity.
The thing you don’t want to do is replay the scenario in your head or try to analyze your feelings by reliving them. That'll get you stuck in a rut of emotion and you won't be able to move on.
According to Science Daily, "the best way to move ahead emotionally is to analyze one's feelings from a psychologically distanced perspective." In other words "when negative emotions become overwhelming, simply dial the emotional temperature down a bit in order to think about the problem rationally and clearly," says researcher Ethan Kross.
The study tested three methods, two of which were equally effective in the short-term. If you're pissed at your S.O. and want to talk it out, consider the "distraction condition" or the "distanced-analysis condition."
Using the former method you would think about something totally unrelated to the fight, something factual that doesn't make you upset, like "starfish live in the ocean" or, "in Canada they say zed instead of zee." Thinking non-emotional thoughts will calm you down, hopefully enough to have a sane discussion with your asshole boyfriend—HAHA just kidding!—your partner who did something that caused you distress.
In the latter approach—and this is the one that's most effective in the long term—you go back to the fight (or whatever made you upset) and watch what happened as if you're looking in from the outside. Try not to re-feel your anger, frustration or sadness, but instead observe and analyze your emotions; think about why you were feeling that way. Sound difficult? It probably is, but relationships are hard, and making them work takes effort!
Whatever you do, don't hold in your anger; that could actually be harmful to your health. And look on the bright side: couples fight less as they grow older. So stick around a few years and you may not need to worry about fighting at all.