Fight Fair on a Full Stomach
Based on what I read online, the nosey little internet has figured out what articles might interest a Bethesda couples’ therapist, so I am inundated with articles about the “latest and greatest” in how to have the best relationship possible. The articles are often given catchy titles to grab potential reader’s eyes such as, “‘Hangry’ Spouses More Likely To Lash Out At Each Other, Study Says.” Yes, I actually read this article, and I am actually going to talk about it because this one actually made a good point (though I promise I will make it about more than being hangry).
You have probably heard the term “fighting fair” at some point whether it was in couple’s therapy in MD, or in a self-help book. Fighting fair refers to the techniques of having a discussion in which you get your point across, listen to your partner, and do it all with respect for the other person. Fighting fair can not occur without being introspective about why you feel the way you do about the topic at hand. You have to look closely at what aspects of how you are feeling is really about the other person or their behavior, and what aspects are about your own buttons/baggage. So, you might be wondering what this has to do with being hangry?
Behavior tends to impact your emotions and your emotions tend to impact your behavior. Making sure you are sleeping well, eating right, and taking care of yourself can lead to a nice upward spiral of emotional and physical well-being that impacts the people around you as well. But, when the opposite happens, it can all go downhill until implosion occurs. Basically, if your sugar is low and you are cranky, having a serious discussion at that time would be ill-advised and lead to a very unfair fight. The trick is to be introspective enough to know when you are “off,” admit it to yourself and your partner, and take some time (eat) and come back to the topic – at that point, you might not even care enough to have a discussion.
Like I said, though, being hungry is not the only aspect of your well-being that you need to be introspective about. I have heard dozens of stories about a spouse who is stressed from work, brings that stress home, and negativity abounds – leading to unnecessary conflict. Women admit to me that they have mood swings related to their period that greatly impact their mood and decision-making. And don’t get me started about sleep. Sleep deprivation can mimic symptoms of, and even cause, several mental health disorders. Being introspective about when you are stressed about outside situations, are having mood swings related to hormones, or are just downright tired is very important to avoid unnecessary and, perhaps, damaging arguments.
Obviously it is an impossibility to be in pristine emotional and physical condition before having a discussion with your spouse. The trick here is just to be aware enough to see if something else, other than your partner, might be affecting your mood. Or at least to know that, if the discussion needs to happen, that you need to wait until you are rested or do not have other stressors on your mind, etc. Taking ownership and responsibility for your mood and mood swings will go far in impacting your ability to have that healthy relationship you strive for.