Are you and your partner arguing your way to an early death? Research shows you could be… since we now know that arguments can trigger a dangerous stress response. And people who hold in stress – say, by stonewalling their partner – or who lash out – have a higher risk for everything from back pain, to high blood pressure, to heart disease! So, here’s how to argue in a healthier way. This comes from psychologist Dr. Karin Abrell:

  • First, while sitting face-to-face, reach out and touch your partner by holding hands or touching their shoulder. Dr. Abrell says no matter what the disagreement is about, it’s almost impossible to shout at someone – or give them the silent treatment – if you’re making physical contact with them.
  • Also, if you DO tend to shut down during arguments, admit it. Say something like, “I want to talk about this, but it’s hard for me because I can’t express my thoughts clearly.” By acknowledging your tendency to react a certain way, your partner will be more willing to work with you to solve the issue. But if you just give them the cold shoulder as usual, it’ll send the message you don’t care, which will make the situation worse.
  • And then Dr. Abrell says never be afraid to put an argument on hold. If you sense an argument escalating, with no resolution in sight, she says it’s okay to say: “Hang on – I need time to calm down.” Then, take a walk, do some deep breathing, and gather your thoughts for round two. Because when couples argue with less stress, they tend to resolve their disagreements AND they live longer.