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The Single Most Important Thing This Couple Never Does to Maintain a Successful 35-Year Marriage

They've been married for 35 years—here's the No. 1 thing they never do to have a successful relationship

They’ve been married for 35 years—here’s the No. 1 thing they never do to have a successful relationship

Psychologists Drs. John and Julie Gottman have studied over 40,000 couples about to begin couples therapy. But these seasoned professionals, who have been happily married to each other for 35 years, still make mistakes. They argue, they get frustrated, they snap at each other. However, there is one thing they have learned to never do: fight when emotionally flooded.

Emotional flooding is when you feel both psychologically and physically overwhelmed. This often happens during conflicts when our bodies sense danger, preventing us from having productive conversations. The Gottmans have found that it is a common pattern in unhappy relationships.

Some signs of emotional flooding include racing heart, shortness of breath, clenching of the jaw or muscles, difficulty hearing your partner, struggle to focus on anything outside of your own racing thoughts, and the urge to scream and say negative things, run away, or ignore your partner.

To avoid flooding while fighting, it is crucial to be mindful of your emotions and mental energy. When you realize you are flooded during an argument, let your partner know, and take some time to yourself. Find an activity that distracts or calms you down like meditation, yoga, reading an article, or playing a game on your phone. Then continue the conversation when you’re feeling better. Remember that the end goal isn’t for one of you to “win,” but to work through challenges together as a team.

It’s okay to fight in your relationship, but learning how to fight constructively is key. It is important to recognize when you’re emotionally flooded, and take steps to prevent it from getting worse. Fighting when flooded can harm both your partner’s trust in you and the foundations of your relationship.

FAQs:

Q: What is emotional flooding?
A: Emotional flooding is when you feel both psychologically and physically overwhelmed. It often occurs during conflicts when our bodies sense danger, preventing us from having productive conversations.

Q: What are some signs of emotional flooding?
A: Racing heart, shortness of breath, clenching of the jaw or muscles, difficulty hearing your partner, struggle to focus on anything outside of your own racing thoughts, and the urge to scream and say negative things, run away, or ignore your partner are all signs of emotional flooding.

Q: How can I avoid flooding while fighting?
A: When you realize you are flooded during an argument, let your partner know, and take some time to yourself. Find an activity that distracts or calms you down like meditation, yoga, reading an article, or playing a game on your phone. Then continue the conversation when you’re feeling better. Remember that the end goal isn’t for one of you to “win,” but to work through challenges together as a team.

Q: Is it okay to fight in a relationship?
A: It’s okay to fight in your relationship, but learning how to fight constructively is key. It is important to recognize when you’re emotionally flooded, and take steps to prevent it from getting worse. Fighting when flooded can harm both your partner’s trust in you and the foundations of your relationship.

They've been married for 35 years—here's the No. 1 thing they never do to have a successful relationship
They’ve been married for 35 years—here’s the No. 1 thing they never do to have a successful relationship

The Key to a Successful Relationship: What This Couple of 35 Years Never Does

Psychologists who have studied more than 40,000 couples on the brink of couples therapy recommend finding ways to avoid fighting when emotionally flooded. Drs. John and Julie Gottman, who’ve been happily married for 35 years, noted that being mindful of one’s emotional state can reduce negative consequences during arguments. Emotional flooding, when an individual becomes overwhelmed psychologically and physically, can cause the nervous system to go into overdrive and trigger potential fight or flight reactions. Being cognizant of these telltale signs and taking a time-out to focus and calm oneself can help improve the outcomes of any subsequent discussions.

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