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9 Rules for Fighting Fair: How Marriage Affects HealthA bad union can be wounding in more ways than one.by Romelda C. Ascutia .
Couples who regularly quarrel should turn over a new leaf if they want to stay healthy. U.S. researchers found that the wounds of couples who bickered healed more slowly than when they were in harmony. The study authors said stress seems to slow the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines—protein molecules produced by white blood cells that play a key role in healing.
They also noted that cytokines found in the blood beyond the wound site rose after negative discussions. This cytokine spike outside the healing area does not help in recovery, but instead is seen as a secondary health threat linked to the development of depression, heart disease, osteoporosis, arthritis, type 2 diabetes, cancer, and general physical decline.
The study report, which appeared in a recent issue of Archives of General Psychiatry, concluded that both short- and long-term stress from marital squabbles slows the healing process while increasing the risk of serious physical and mental illness.
9 RULES FOR FIGHTING FAIR
It’s not what you fight about, but how you fight it out.
1. Clarify the issue and stick to it; don’t dig up past problems or hurts.
2. If tired or cranky, prearrange to talk it out later when you’re both alert and calmer.
3. Start from what you agree on rather than from what you disagree on.
4. Don’t blame. Pointing an accusing finger will only put your spouse on the defensive.
5. No shouting, cursing, humiliating, or name-calling, which can leave deep emotional scars.
6. Start sentences with “I.” Saying, “I feel angry when you ignore me,” is more effective than saying, “You make me angry for being so insensitive.”
7. Give each other five minutes to air your respective sides. Don’t use that airtime to go ballistic, or that listening period to prepare your rebuttal, but to communicate sincerely.
8. Agree on a closing ritual, such as a hug or a kiss, after an argument as a sign that you are still willing to work on the issue.
9. Learn from mistakes by asking your partner how you could have better handled the argument so you won’t commit the same errors next time.
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