Aging Well in the Gorge ~ April 10th, 2024

Do you and your partner ever fight over little or big disagreements? Or do you use the avoidance style of handling conflicts my wife and I use?

In her article “Is There a Right Way to Fight with Your Partner?” on the website Next Avenue, Randi Mazzella interviews couples therapist Dr. Julie Gottman who with her husband wrote the book “Fight Right: How Successful Couples Turn Conflict Into Connection”

What they’ve learned from their fifty years of research with over three thousand couples, is that fighting isn’t necessarily bad for a relationship and if done right, fighting can lead to greater intimacy and connection.

Gottman offers several suggestions for how to fight right, so you can express your feelings safely without judgment and your partner will understand what is troubling you and you can get what you need.

First, avoid these four communication styles when communicating with a partner: stonewalling, criticism, contempt, and defensiveness. For example, instead of being critical, try something positive. Rather than saying “Why can’t you ever load the dishwasher?” try “It would help me if you could load the dishwasher tonight.”

Second, couples should employ a “5 to 1” ratio when discussing an issue: five positive interactions to each negative. Positive interactions can be a smile, a nod, or an affectionate touch, while negative interactions include saying something critical, a frown, or ignoring what a partner says.

Third, it’s not about winning; it’s about understanding one another. “Arguments should be productive and enriching, not hurtful,” says Gottman.

Fourth, learn to communicate better. Not just by being an “active listener”: letting your partner speak and repeating what they have said to prove you heard them. Active listening often fails because it doesn’t include the importance of how the speakers express themselves.” And using “I” sentences doesn’t always work either. Gottman explains that if you say, “I feel angry when you don’t bring in the groceries,” your partner may just hear the negativity. Using ‘I’ in a positive way, such as, “I’d appreciate if you brought in the groceries”, is a more effective way of getting your point across.

Fifth, know how to apologize. Now this could be a whole other column. But to apologize to end the fight without really being sorry, or apologizing without genuinely knowing why your partner was upset won’t help.

I don’t think any of us can or even should live like the fictional characters Carol and Mike Brady of “The Brady Bunch.” Because if done right, which may take time, fighting can lead to a more intimate and stronger relationship.

Now I just have to look for something to fight about tonight!

I learned at least one person was interested in the Pathfinder 2 study because he called and found that the phone number I wrote last week was incorrect. I meant to write 541-399-9059. Thank you to whoever that masked man was who found my error.

Brain Tease: This is a quote where I’ve reversed the text.

neurG araS – .tnatropmi tub ,krow drah si selbram ruoy lla gnivah fo ecnaraeppa eht pu gnipeeK

The name of the first satellite launched on October 4th, 1957, by the Soviet Union was Sputnik. I received correct answers from Jay Waterbury, Kathy Bullack, Lana Tepfer, Tina Castanares, Marny Wetting, Rhonda Spies, Dave Lutgens, Eva Summers, Rebecca Abrams, Linda Frizzell, Bruce Johnson, and Glenna Mahurin, this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket.

I don’t know if chess was ever your game, but in 1972 the world was focused on a chess match between Russia and the United States. For this week’s “Remember When” question, who was the American who defeated Russian Boris Spassky in the World Chess Championship match that generated so much interest it was broadcast on prime-time TV. Email your answer to, call 541-296-4788, or send it with a copy of his book My 60 Memorable Games.

Well, it’s been another week, enjoying life as I’m passing through. Until we meet again, as a very close friend recently told me, “I don’t like to fight. I just like to win!”

“If you can’t fly, run. If you can’t run, walk. If you can’t walk, crawl, but by all means keep moving.” Martin Luther King

Nutritious home-delivered and in-person meals are available at noon Monday through Friday unless otherwise noted.

Seniors of Mosier Valley (541-980-1157) – Mondays and Wednesdays; Mt. Hood Townhall (541-308-5997) – Tuesdays; Hood River Valley Adult Center (541-386-2060); Sherman County Senior and Community Center (541-565-3191); The Dalles Meals-on-Wheels (541-298-8333).

For meal sites in Washington, call Klickitat County Senior Services: Goldendale office (509-773-3757) or the White Salmon office (509-493-3068), and in Skamania County call Senior Services (509-427-3990).

Answer: “Keeping up the appearance of having all your marbles is hard work, but important.” ― Sara Gruen

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