Asserting yourself effectively in a relationship – Part 1/3

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Research shows that happy couples talk differently than those who are unhappy.

The individuals in a healthy couple are able to be assertive, express anger and sometimes even yell. But what they don’t do is belittle each other, they do not name call nor do they generalize their criticisms, they are also able to have a lot of positive comments in the midst of an argument. Here are some tips on how to be effectively assertive in a relationship:

1. Always keep in mind that the person you are in conflict with is a loved one and not a criminal or a murderer. Yes you may not feel that you love your partner in the midst of the argument, but try to always keep in mind that s/he is the person you care deeply about. Remember that they are having a hard time with this situation as well.

2. Be careful what you say when you are angry. When we are angry, our cerebral cortex, which is the civilized and thinking part, stops functioning and our amygdala, the part that manages emotions, takes over.

Unfortunately the amygdala does not have a lot of intellectual equipment, so when people lash out in anger they might say provocative stupid things and the partner might respond in kind. The result is usually an all out war or silence. Now I am not saying that you should keep your mouth shut when you are angry, but it’s best to try to distract yourself and calm down a little bit before continuing the argument, as you want your cerebral cortex to take charge again. Some people find it helpful to have a walk, hug the dog or meditate. You will have a greater chance of being heard by your partner and getting some of what you want if you wait until you are not in the heat of anger.

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