Had an Argument with Your Partner? This Short Exercise Could Save Your Relationship
Research has found a quick, seven-minute writing exercise, done three times a year, can increase couples’ satisfaction with their relationships. The health benefits of a happy, long-term relationship are well-known, but keeping a relationship happy and thriving, in the long run, is easier said than done.
It’s an unfortunate fact that most couples experience a consistent decline in satisfaction with their relationship over time. If you can relate to this feeling, give the writing exercise below a try. Research shows there’s a good chance it can turn your feelings around.
THE BENEFITS OF A SIMPLE WRITING EXERCISE
A study from New Northwestern University followed 120 married couples for two years. Every four months, all couples rated their relationship satisfaction, love, intimacy, trust, passion and commitment. They also shared a summary of their most significant disagreement in the past four months.
For the first year of the study, relationship quality declined for the majority of the couples. But, during the second year of the study, half of the couples were asked to complete a seven-minute writing exercise three times that year. These couples completely eliminated their decline in marital satisfaction. Whereas, those who did not do the writing exercise continued to suffer.
Interestingly, all couples fought just as much about equally serious topics. But the couples who did the writing exercise were less distressed by the fights. This seemed to help keep up their marital satisfaction as well as other healthy relationship markers like passion and sexual desire.
Also, the results were the same regardless of how long the couples had been married. The participants ranged from newlyweds to those who had been married for fifty years. The research specifically looked at married couples, but it would presumably work for any other type of committed relationships as well.
HOW TO DO THE EXERCISE
You can easily reproduce the same writing exercise at home. Simply sit down with your partner and a pen and paper, or a laptop or other mobile device, and follow these steps.
1. Bring to mind a disagreement that’s bothering you
It could be an obvious blow-up you had recently, but sometimes the smaller, niggling arguments can be just as serious. Regardless of how big or small it may seem, decide together what disagreement you’d like to tackle for the writing exercise.
2. View the disagreement like a person outside your relationship
How would a loving friend, family member, or other third party feel about your disagreement? You know this person would want the best for both of you, as well as a fair resolution you can both feel good about. What suggestions do you think they would have?
3. Write about your disagreement for seven minutes from this objective perspective
There’s no set structure to this. You can write general thoughts, a list of points, or full paragraphs. Make sure both of you contribute and include what you feel is most important to resolve any lingering issues around your disagreement. Remember to view the situation as if you were an outside observer. This objective standpoint will help keep everyone’s best interest in mind, rather than simply starting the argument all over again.
4. Repeat three times a year
You can pre-schedule certain dates to do your writing exercise, or do it spontaneously as the need arises. Either way, doing this at least three times a year gives you a chance to reconnect with each other and constructively deal with disagreements. And best of all, you’ll be building a relationship that can thrive long into the future.
By: Zoe Blarowski