Married Life // 08.14.12 // Add Comment

5 Min Therapy: How to Argue to Feel Closer with Dr. Amador

I'm very excited to have my therapist Dr. Amador offer his advice on relationships for Bethenny.com! It's like you're getting "free therapy”! Make sure to ask him questions in the comments below and he might just answer them in his next blog.

5 Min Therapy: How to Argue to Feel Closer with Dr. Amador
Really? Arguing is good for your health and your relationship.

If you're like most women you labor under the myth that if your relationship is good then you won't have intense disagreements or fights. Not true! In fact, couples that don't have disagreements or fights are either asleep, have one foot out the door, or worse! A recent study of 3,682 couples, published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine, found that women who give up and give in during arguments with their husbands (they get quiet and stop arguing) are four times more likely to die prematurely than woman who argue "productively”. The women who held it in also had a higher risk of depression and, I'm not kidding, irritable bowel syndrome! So by all means please argue, but do it well–it's good for your health and longevity. It's also good for your relationship.

Here's the headline, "win" or "lose", your arguments can either drive you apart or bring you closer together. And intense arguments are actually a sign of intimacy! But if your fight is "toxic" you will feel distant, angry, hurt and worse.

Learning how to fight fair and well is not something that comes naturally to most of us. If you want to see how I helped a couple transform their toxic arguments into healthy disagreements that brought them much closer together, check out: Episode 1: Family, Friends & Lovers | This Emotional Life - PBS (See the 2nd half of the episode).

Working with this couple I used the LEAP® method–an easy to learn communication toolkit for turning your adversary into an ally, your unappreciative, cold, angry, distant, judgmental boyfriend or husband into your friend and lover. Please watch the video, and then be sure to come back here and get the details on how you can stop butting heads and start growing closer.

To start, I want you to keep asking yourself these two questions when you find yourself in an argument: Do you want to be right and alone? Or do you want to feel closer, more respected and in love? Have a look below at my tips for recognizing when your fights are toxic and how to inject them with health.

Arguing with the enemy

- You repeat yourself and insist you're right–this only makes the other person more defensive and stubborn.

- You use insults or name-calling ("that's stupid", "you're being a jerk", etc.).

- You pick the wrong time– when either of you is too angry, defensive, tired, stressed or intoxicated to be productive.

- You use absolutes–people get defensive when say "you never" or "you always".

- You "kitchen-sink" –bringing in past issues escalates anger and defensiveness and you forget what you were arguing about!

- You defend yourself–you have every right to your opinion! When you defend, the person will not feel heard and become more defensive.


Arguing with your lover

- Start with "I want to understand," not "you're wrong!"
- Say it once–stop repeating yourself.
- Stop and listen–it's what you would want.
- Don't defend yourself–you don't have to if you're focus is on listening.
- Delay giving your opinion–make him ask for it.
- Give your opinion gently, don't rub salt in the wound.

Do you usually argue with "the enemy" or "your lover"? How can you take steps to argue to get closer?

For information on the LEAP® method, or the book "I'm Right, You're Wrong, Now What?, Dr. Amador's other books and about Dr. Amador himself, please visit:

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