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They were married for 35 years—the No.


as psychologistsit’s us studied more than 40,000 couples are about to start couples therapy.

We’ve also been happily married to each other for 35 years, so we know a thing or two about how to build. a successful, long-term relationship. But that doesn’t mean we can’t make mistakes. We argue, we get angry, we fight. We are human.

However, there is one thing we have learned never to do: fight when we are overwhelmed with emotion.

What is emotional flooding?

Emotional flooding is when you feel overwhelmed psychologically and physically. This often happens when our body detects danger during conflict, and it prevents us from having productive conversations.

We know this is a common pattern of unhappy relationships.

Everyone has their own built-in meter that measures how much negativity and fear they can take in at one time. When it’s too much, the nervous system goes into overdrive and we go into “fight or flight” mode.

Here are some signs of emotional flooding:

  • Your heart is racing and you feel out of breath.
  • Your jaw or muscles are clenched.
  • You will find it difficult to listen to your partner.
  • You struggle to focus on anything other than your own career mindset.
  • You want to yell and say negative things, run away, or ignore your partner.

These behaviors damage your partner’s trust in you and the foundation of your relationship. You may stop communicating altogether and start resenting each other.

How to avoid flooding while fighting

It’s hard to stop yourself from taking action when you’re overwhelmed with emotion. You might say things you don’t mean. But being mindful of your emotions and mental strength can keep you from going too far.

When we realize that we are flooded during an argument, we inform each other: “I feel overwhelmed now and need time to myself.”

Then we go into separate rooms and do an activity that distracts or calms us. This is important: We don’t allow ourselves to be upset by our sadness. Instead, we can do a quick meditation or yoga session, read an article, or play games on our phones.

Then we resume the conversation at the agreed time — when we feel better. This exercise helps us remember that the end goal is not for one of us to “win” or have the last word. The point is to work on challenges together as a team.

It’s okay to fight in your relationship

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