You have a new reason to fight less with your partner, and it isn't just to protect your relationship. Both positive and negative marital interactions have been linked to heart health, according to research from the University of Pittsburgh.
Participants, either in marriages or marriage-like partnerships, were asked to rate their marital interaction quality as positive (agreeableness) or negative (conflict) every hour for four days. Then, the researchers measured the thickness of the carotid artery using ultrasound imaging.
They found that negative marital interaction was associated with having a thicker carotid artery, an indicator of subclinical cardiovascular disease. Conversely, more positive marital interaction was associated with a thinner carotid artery.
"How can we stop the fighting?" says Laurie Puhn, JD, a conflict resolution expert. "It's the million-dollar question, but it's the wrong question. The right question is: How can we turn our bad fights into good fights."
Arguments are inevitable in any relationship, says Puhn, but not all fights have to end negatively. "Good fights, which are rational encounters that effectively address the problem at hand, are the route to a peaceful solution," she says.
Follow Puhn's 4 steps to turning a bad fight into a good fight, adapted from her book, Fight Less, Love More.