No matter how much you love your partner, you will fight. But how you fight could determine the longevity of your relationship. Do you know your fight style?
It’s the television show that has the whole country talking.
Married at First Sight is hard not to love, because everyone loves love. However, at the moment it seems anything but. There is more war than peace as the couples work out who they are and what they want.
One of the experts on the program, Dr John Aiken, is a clinical psychologist who has been working in private practice for over 19 years and specializes in giving practical advice to singles and couples. I spoke to him about the success of the show and more importantly what we can learn from it in our own lives.
What did you first think of the initial idea of Married at First Sight?
I really had to think about if I could deal with what might happen in the show. Can I deal with the potential controversy that might come with the show? But for me in the end, I’m a relationships psychologist; I deal in this area all the time and the concept sounded really exciting to me and I liked the idea of the challenge so I jumped at it.
What do you think of the social experiment so far?
It’s a fascinating ride. There is a science out there that talks about what are some of the key ingredients for a long lasting relationship. For a psychologist it’s a chance to take that science and match people accordingly and see if it works. It’s a rare situation for both the couples and the experts to be in.
What is that science? Can I tell if I will be in a long lasting relationship?
There are certain ingredients that relate to higher levels of relationship stability and satisfaction. Mainly personality, what they have found is that someone who is agreeable, warm, not a big risk taker and copes well under pressure and doesn’t get stressed, those characteristics do very well in relationships. But with the show, you can’t test chemistry, or how they are going to cope in the spotlight, that is a different dynamic not in normal relationships. You are going to see more of the couples fighting and their fight style
What do you mean by fight style?
We all have different ways of bringing up issues and often that can cause a fight as a couple. Some people are good at their style. They bring things up softly, look at ways of repairing and say sorry. Others are much more confrontational, they don’t take the blame; they are harsh, critical, defensive and show contempt. When you have a harsh flight style that creates great problems.
One of the key findings in research is the first three minutes of a fight can dictate how your communication and conversation will play out. If you use harsh words like “you never” and “you always” and “when are you going to” the person will get defensive and the conversation will go south quickly. If you bring up the conversation softly and use statements like “I feel” and take ownership over it and talk about what you would like differently moving forward the person will stay engaged and will hear you. So good listening comes from good speaking.
I have a theory that if you can’t resolve a fight you should fight naked.
Well that’s a good short circuit, I quite like that. It can shut the argument down and focus on something entirely different. Interestingly enough, when you get into a fight, men often stonewall and shut down. They have found that once that happens it’s hard to pull them out of it. They are not particularly good at dealing with heated debate and they get flooded and can’t deal with it.
So if they get to that state it is good to stop and do something different for 30 minutes. Do the washing, go for a walk, watch some TV, leave the room, read a magazine, taking 30 minutes of time out calms the argument down. Not quite as effective as getting naked, but they are a way to manage the escalation of an argument. Naked however can get you connected and it’s a way to remember why you are special, why your relationship is special, so go for it.
What’s your couple fight style? Let us know in the comments below…