Why Do You Struggle In Relationship Arguments
We have all been there. There was a truly minor or silly issue that came up in our relationship and partners did not see eye to eye. Partners were staunch in their positions and resorted to maladaptive communication techniques in order to “win” the argument. The disagreement turned into disconnection, as partners resented and held each other in contempt. I am here to tell readers that it is not either partner’s fault for this. We are simply ill-equipped to handle the hijacking of our logic from our emotional mind.
There are three levels of our brain, to put it simply:
The brain stem handles basic life functions, like breathing and passing waste.
The emotional mind, or Amygdala, is the emotional processing center in our mind. Emotions are just impulses to act.
The higher order thinking of logic is based in the Neo Cortex.
When we become emotionally compromised, the higher order thinking becomes crowded out, that is, we are unable to access the powerful logic that we would normally have access to. Imagine you had a garden hose with no nozzle on the end. You open the water valve and water gushes out freely. That is how our mind functions when we are not emotionally compromised. Now, imagine that you place your thumb at the end of the hose. Water now has to flow from a much smaller area. It comes out with much pressure and significantly reduced flow. This is what happens when we are arguing with a partner.
When we become upset, the access to our logical mind becomes reduced. The only thoughts and actions that we really have access to are those that are programmed, either from nature or from nurture. In an argument, we resort to actions that we would never consider, let alone, think of when we were happy-go-lucky.
It can feel as if an argument is the end of the world and the end of the relationship. Partners can resort to making life-long commitments in the heat of the moment. I highlight these facts so that partners can understand that they are dealing with this restriction of access to their logical mind and their partner is struggling, likewise. In consideration of our analogy, we have to remove the blockage so that the water (logic) may flow freely. We do this before trying to resolve the underlying issue and we do this before making any plans to end a relationship. To do so, we can simply call a time-out.
When we take a time-out, we are not taking one from the relationship; it is not a separation. We are only taking a moment to collect ourselves. When we step away, we do so actively working to restore the flow to our logical minds. With some effort, calming down is an inevitability, as long as we think positively about the relationship and our partner. In time, when each partner has calmed down, we can attempt to address the underlying disagreement, doing so with full access to our logical mind. It can be tempting to just brush the issue aside once partners have calmed down, but that is precisely the moment that they need to come back to the negotiations table.
I want readers to also understand that there may be things that are said when either partner is upset. Those words came from an emotional wound, they did not come from the Neo Cortex. It is extremely important that partners do not hold each other in contempt when the relationship is back on firm ground. When partners can look past a difficult moment and forgive, they will engender untold amounts of trust and intimacy.