So if you are discussing and then arguing about an issue or a conflict, what is your usual modus operandi? Do you get quiet and withdraw? Do you engage fully, and the discourse goes on for a while before the other party leaves? Do you follow each other from one room to another still angry? Or do you call a timeout and drop it altogether?
It is impossible to be alive and not to have disagreements and conflicts with other people, especially with those we care about. So how we handle those make a difference in the quality of our relationships. I have heard people say that they never have arguments. Better stated, they never deal with or confront the issues. This attitude sets it up for one (or more realistically both) parties to harbor resentments that accumulate. That is not a healthy choice as it takes its toll not only on the emotional connection but also on our physical health. If you find that the same subjects come up every so often, it’s because they were not resolved when they first appeared. Some people have difficulty handling both their own and others’ anger. Remember that anger is a result of some kind of obstacle to a goal, some frustration, maybe a sense of helplessness or even, not getting what you want. Your mind and body are signaling that you need to address the cause. And most importantly, this uneasy state will eventually subside, meaning we get over it. Sometimes it takes longer than what would be healthy. The stress hormone, cortisone, was not made by human nature to linger in the body for long periods of time. If it does stay around, it causes damage. So here’s a practical rule: If you’re bothered by something today, and can’t or don’t want to deal with it, sleep on it. If you can’t remember what that was the next day, it must not be that important. But if it is still on your mind two days later, make it a point to address it. The other tip is that if the same issue or behavior causes you upset, take a long look at what that is about.
Examining our own motives and behavior is a sign of strength and the mark of a healthy personality, leading to strong friendships and relationships. If you know that you like to have the last word, ask yourself why that is so important. How does that square off with the value you put on your partner’s happiness? If you leave a discussion because you don’t want to upset him/her, ask yourself if your state of mind is not as important as your partner’s and if so, why? Are you not an equal participant in the emotional connection?
The terrain of relationships is not smooth and if it were, it would probably be boring. So, see the challenges as what makes us thrive and evolve into more understanding and loving people.
“Assumptions are the termites of relationships.” – Henry Winkler
As a psychologist in private practice since 1979, Janan Broadbent, Ph. D. offers individual, couples, group and family therapy, in addition to conducting workshops on topics such as stress management, communication skills and assertiveness. She writes about current issues relevant to relationship building and conflict resolution in LGBTQ and minority populations, with emphasis on health, fitness and education.
Born in Turkey, Dr. Broadbent earned her undergraduate degree in psychology in 1965. At that time, first as a Fulbright Scholar, then as a CENTO Fellow, she received her master's and doctorate degrees in psychology and education from the University of California at Los Angeles. She has taught graduate and undergraduate courses in psychology at St.Mary's College of Maryland, Mt. Vernon College in Washington, D. C., Johns Hopkins University and the College of Notre Dame in Baltimore. From 1981 to 1988, she was also the Director of Counseling at Notre Dame College.
While in graduate school, Dr. Broadbent worked for the Voice of America radio program, writing and recording materials on the cross-cultural college experience. She has been interviewed on various news programs on TV and has received media training.
Dr. Broadbent is a member of the American Psychological Association and has served as the chair for the Public Affairs Board and as a member of the Executive Council of the Maryland Psychological Association.
Dr. Broadbent's office is located at:
Village of Cross Keys, 120 West Quadrangle, 2 Hamill Road, Baltimore, Maryland 21210-1847 phone: 410-825-5577