A new study of married couples, however, has found physiological evidence for one technique to diffuse tension: choosing the right fighting words.Couples who used analytical language, such as “think,” “understand,” “because,” or “reason,” during heated arguments were able to keep important stress-related chemicals in check, according to research published in the latest issue of the journal Health Psychology. Cytokines are inflammatory chemicals that spike during periods of prolonged tension and can lower your immunity and lead to early frailty, Type 2 diabetes, arthritis, and some cancers. The authors noted a curious gender twist in their results. Husbands benefitted from their wives’ measured language, but a man’s carefully chosen words had little effect on a woman’s cytokine balance.
By the way, some sections of the articles will make you think twice before signing up as a couple for the next psychological study:
Researchers measured cytokines before and after discussions with 42 married heterosexual couples. In the first session, couples chatted about a neutral topic. In the second, an interviewer gathered a couple’s history and then deliberately provoked a fight by asking them to hash out their hardest issues, saying to a husband and wife something like, “You hate the way her mother always comes over, and you feel like he controls all the money. Discuss,” explains Jennifer Graham, lead author and assistant professor of bio-behavioral health at Penn State.
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