While there are multiple ways to end an argument, there’s only one that’s non-toxic, research shows. (And nope, storming out of the room definitely ain’t it.)
For a 2017 study published in the journal Modern Psychological Studies, researchers analyzed 700 participants, who were all in relationships and totally willing to talk about their argumentative ways. They found that while withdrawal, the silent treatment, and compliance (i.e., just agreeing with the other party to put the kibosh on the issue) all resulted in increased psychological distress, productive problem solving actually did some good.
“In general, conflict is associated with distress and lower well-being. But productive problem solving, as a resolution strategy, is not associated with distress.” —Julie Petersen, lead study author
“In general, conflict is associated with distress and lower well-being,” lead study author Julie Petersen told Thrive Global. “Productive problem solving, as a resolution strategy, is not associated with distress, which could imply that it neutralizes the distress that comes with conflict.”
Even though researchers initially hypothesized all conflict would create distress, luckily for the future arguments that inevitably plague your healthy relationship, such wasn’t the case: Because you and your partner take the time to hear where one another is coming from through productive problem solving, no one feels unheard.
So, the next time you get into an argument, sit down and hash it out: Your fight will turn into a much-needed discussion, and your relationship will end up stronger.
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