People who are in relationships know that arguments and disagreements are part and parcel of every bond. However, at times, conflicts tend to go out of hand and, in some cases, lead to break-ups. But if a new research is to be believed, then stepping back and thinking about the future in moments of conflict could help people get over these tough times.
The study was conducted by Alex Huynh and Igor Grossman, from the University of Waterloo, Canada, and Daniel Yang from Yale University, USA. “When romantic partners argue over things such as finances, jealousy or other interpersonal issues, they 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,” Huynh was quoted as saying.
How it works
Sounds simple, but does it actually work? Clinical psychologist Tanushree Bhargava says, “I support the view that taking a step back can help resolve conflicts. When an individual thinks about the future, he or she develops a broader approach to the situation. So, a conflict can be acknowledged as a small obstacle. This perspective makes a person hopeful, and motivates him or her to give his or her best to resolve the conflict.”
A contrarian view also exists. There is a section that believes that making too many future plans may be detrimental, especially if the relationship doesn’t last very long. Relationship expert Vishnu Modi says, “While making plans, one should take into consideration that nothing is certain in life. You should be ready for any eventuality, so that you aren’t disappointed if your plans don’t work out. Adopting a realistic and practical approach is a must.”
That would probably explain why relationship counsellor Riddhish Maru recommends taking the middle route. He believes that some amount of planning is essential in relationships, but one should also have the mental, emotional and physical readiness to change the plan or goal, if need be. “Your goals should not be too unrealistic or burdening. Also, you should not be too reliant or dependent on your plans, as rigidity leads to problems in relationships. Some compromises or adjustments are required by partners,” he says.
Bhargava adds that having a plan can help strengthen a relationship, as the individual’s partner will realise the importance he or she is giving the relationship, and to him or her. “This thought process improves the bond between a couple, leading to a stronger and prosperous relationship,” she says.
Finally, remember to prioritise certain aspects over others in the plan. Bhargava says, “Find out what makes your partner feel satisfied and happy. For most people, priorities are based on their financial and emotional needs. Other than these, priorities should also depend on a person’s purpose in life, and his or her expectations.”
So, while planning for the future may help you deal with your relationship issues, one has to take into consideration that this is not a foolproof method to solving problems, and there is no guarantee that it will work in all cases.
Dos and Don’ts during an argument
Take a pause, move to the next room and stay silent for a few minutes
Drink a glass of water
Think about where the argument started and the language that you used
Take yourself out of the situation and ‘substitute yourself’ with ‘your close friend’. Then, try to analyse the situation very objectively to find out what you want
Sit together and discuss your disagreements
Be over reactive
Forget yourself and the place you are at
Use abusive language or get physical
Drag other family members, parents and kids into your fights
Take a decision on the spur of the moment
— Dr Mary George, consulting clinical psychologist