Monday, July 7, 2014
Arguing and the Immune System
excerpts from an article on Medical Press about the effect of arguments between partners (and other stressors) on the immune system:
"Rebecca Reed, a doctoral candidate in family studies and human development in the University of Arizona College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, is studying how a couple's recovery from an argument affects their immune systems and overall health....
Though we hopefully know the difference, our bodies' immune responses don't differentiate between a peeved lover and a predatory lion. When confronted with a psychological stressor, such as a tense discussion or giving a public speech, our immune systems respond the same as they would for an impending physical attack....
Essentially, too much psychological stress literally can make you sick, while the ability to recover from stressful situations may decrease risk of chronic illness and improve overall health and quality of life......."
She believes that one way to turn off the immune response may be for couples to foster effective interpersonal communication with attention to each other's emotional states. This could help them not only emotionally recover from stressors, but also immunologically recover, she said."
When Richard and I have a doozy of a disagreement both of us feel tender, even broken, for a while afterwards. I go into my cave and hibernate until I feel reconstituted. Richard immerses himself in his computer. After a bit of time passes, we reach out to each other again.
I really like the idea of each wounded partner helping the other to recover from the effects of arguing. It's a hard task for someone who is angry or defended to also be empathic. But the empathy is there, just retreated. If you can make space for empathy in the rush of anger, the disagreement is likely to be more tolerable, with a quicker, more balanced resolution.
How do you and your partner do arguments and disagreements? Do you feel the stress of arguing in your body? How do you recover?