Instead of reacting in the heat of the moment and regretting it later or doing an irreparable damage, it is better to sit back and think about your future with your partner in times of crisis, suggest researchers.
Previous research has already shown how taking a step back from relationship conflict and taking a ‘fly-on-the-wall’ perspective could help couples to reconcile their differences, with one of the study’s own authors, Igor Grossman, already demonstrating in his previous research that couples are better able to reason with and resolve issues of infidelity when they look at the problem from a third-person perspective.
This new study, carried out by lead author Alex Huynh along with Grossman, both from the University of Waterloo, and with Daniel Yang from Yale University, USA, looked at whether thinking to the future, as well as stepping back from the current conflict, could help couples improve their reasoning strategies for improved relationship well-being.
The team recruited participants, who were asked to think about a recent conflict with a romantic partner or a close friend.
Participants were then split into two groups. One group was asked to describe how they would feel about the conflict one year from now, while the other group was asked to describe how they felt about the conflict right now in the present.
The participants’ written responses were then analyzed for their use of pronouns — such as I, me, she, he — which helped reveal whose feelings and behavior the participants focused on in the conflict.