Do you know that feeling when you are arguing in your relationship, the longer and more heated an argument gets, the more you feel like you have to win this fight against this enemy?
But you know who the real enemy is?
It’s your brain.
A researcher studied couples by filming them during a fight, and then analyzing the video, in slow-motion, frame-by-frame, to understand the dynamics of the fight, to analyze what’s really going on.
And he found a set of 5 characteristics of the human brain, that can make fights with your partner worse.
Today, let’s talk about how your brain is actually working against you, and how you can out-maneuver your own brain during a fight with your partner.
Here are the 5 ways that your brain works against you:
1 – Your memory is not to be trusted fully.
Even when you are 100% absolutely sure that you recall exactly what your spouse did or said, you’re probably mistaken.
Because our state of mind influences how we record an experience in our minds.
When we are emotional or stressed when something happened, our memory, our recollections can get skewed.
And then, when we recall that memory during a fight,
where we are again in a heightened, emotional state,
our brain adds even more new color to the memory.
We are essentially recreating our memories.
That’s why it’s almost impossible in a fight to figure out who is correct.
It’s better to just end the the fight and make up.
So, again: Even when you are 100% absolutely sure that you recall exactly what your spouse did or said, you’re probably mistaken.
Number two is related to the first one:
2 – You expect your brain to have an objective perception.
“Don’t look at me like that.” – “Like what?” – “Like you think I’m an idiot.” – “I didn’t look at you like that…”
Perceptions are unreliable, especially under stress, because our brains are not working at fully capacity or normal speed, so the usual filters are not applied.
For the brain to correct errors, there has to be enough time and energy – when we are upset with each other, there’s literally not enough blood – oxygen and glucose – going to the brain.
So, if your partner believes you looked at him or her in a certain way, it’s best not to expect them to correct that perception right then and there. Just let them know that you love them, and don’t think they’re an idiot.
3 – You are overestimating how well you are communicating.
See, our brains are built not to make us happy. They are built to make us survive.
That’s why the brain always conserves energy, and takes shortcuts.
So, we are often not expressing our thoughts and feelings as clearly as we think we are.
I may be making mistakes by assuming that you understood what I said.
And as a listener, you assume that I meant something, when I really didn’t.
I’m sure you have experienced this before:
Even just one word can may mean something to me, and mean something very different to you.
But in a fight, it’s easy to forget that.
So, to avoid that:
Try mirroring – repeat what you heard: “Ok, this is what I heard you say… Did I hear you?”
Be curious rather than furious.
4 – You are not looking at each other.
Avoid to argue without looking straight into each other’s eyes.
We are visual animals.
If we are on the phone, or texting, intentions and phrases can be misunderstood, meanings and tones of voice can be lost.
When you are looking at your partner while he is talking, you are helping your brain make those corrections, to avoid misunderstandings.
5 – You seek compromise but not collaboration.
When it’s not simply a matter of communication, but you are genuinely disagreeing on something, it’s a good idea to start by agreeing that you care about each other, and you care about the outcome.
And then, each of you can present an argument, each of you acknowledges the other’s argument, and then each of you offers a solution that builds on the other’s.
That way, you are truly collaborating, rather than just seeking a compromise.
When you are both trying to come up with something even better than you own idea, you are working towards a win-win.
“Move the ball forward enough for the next thing, and then take this thing off the table quickly, and go have lunch.”
So, there you have it – 5 ways your brain screws up your fights with your partner, and how to fix it:
- Don’t trust your memory. In a highly emotional state, you are probably not recalling everything as it were.
- Don’t expect your’s and your partner’s brain to have objective perception.
- Don’t overestimate how well you are communicating. Repeat what you heard your partner saying, and check whether that’s what he actually meant.
- Look straight into each other’s eyes when you’re talking
- Don’t just compromise, but work together on a solution.
If you are interested in more information on that topic – here’s the book I’d recommend:
If you want to make you brain working for your relationship, not against it, click here to download your Couplific Passion Back System for free.