It started out with a simple discussion. But right from the beginning, both of you were short with each other. And it just escalated.
Then that blowout seemed to lead to another… and another… Now things have gotten so bad, so quickly that you feel like you need a professional to help your relationship.
Take a step back for a second.
Every relationship experiences conflicts. Sometimes they’re big. Sometimes they’re small. Sometimes they start small… and become big!
Often, fights spin out of control not because you disagree with your partner, but because of how you disagree.
You yell. You belittle each other. You blame each other. You bring in other issues that have nothing to do with the original conflict.
In other words, you react negatively – which obviously makes things worse.
But it’s hard not to do this. Especially when you feel blind-sided. Or attacked. Or even guilty.
When my clients come to me and talk about these kinds of encounters, I have a whole list of techniques they can use. Valuable communication tools. Ways they can step back from their personal feelings and really hear what their partner is saying.
That’s the best way to move forward positively. You want to work to strengthen the relationship and your connection instead of pushing each other away.
But sometimes there may be another important contributing factor to your conflicts.
According to a recent story in the New York Times, there is something else that may be just as (or maybe even more) helpful: sleep.
When People Don’t Sleep Enough, They’re Crankier
The study was intended to look at how marital interactions influenced health.
Forty-three couples were part of the research. All of them fought from time to time. Some fought in healthier ways. Some fought in ways that were not-so-healthy.
The researchers weren’t looking for some kind of sleep connection. But one quickly became obvious.
The common thread between the couples that were fighting in more negative ways? Lack of sleep.
Why? Because sleep is essential to more than just our health. It influences our attitudes. The way we perceive the world. The way we interact with others.
This is not new information. Numerous studies have found that people tend to get crankier when they don’t get enough sleep. We use more negative words. We fight with our spouses more.
But where this study went deeper was in the way it looked at how lack of sleep combined with fighting impacted health.
The short version? Both things hurt health individually, but when they happen in tandem, it causes even more damage.
But there’s good news. When even just one partner gets better sleep, fights decrease. Which leads to less relationship turmoil… and better overall health. For both of you.
So, if you find yourself arguing more, one of the best initial things you can do is look at your sleep habits.
Do you feel rested? Are you – or your partner – tossing and turning at night?
If lack of sleep is an issue, work to address that first. Then, if you still need to work on your relationship, you’ll be in a far better mental and emotional place to do it.
Rooting for you!