In the medical world, they say every minute counts when it comes to restoring blood flow to stroke patients. It is believed that the maximum amount of time to start administering blood clot dissolving treatment once symptoms of a stroke start is 4.5 hours. The more time you lose, the greater the chances of causing irreparable damage to a person’s brain. May I suggest that the same is true when you have a blow-up with your significant other. Time is simply not on your side when it comes to repair work.
While we all need time to cool off after an upsetting situation, research suggests that within 20 minutes you should be able to calm down. During that time, take a walk, a soothing shower, perhaps sit still in a quiet room and take several deep breaths. Collect yourself and your thoughts. Start to think with your frontal lobe, not the emotional side of your brain, and then do something. Try to think of at least one thing you can do to repair the situation at hand. Remaining immobile should not be an option. Why? Because each minute that goes by without taking action is just depriving your heart of the love it needs. Simply stated you could act quickly to make the wound nothing more than a minor paper cut, or allow the wound to deepen with time into an infected gash requiring a major operation that may or may not succeed.
All significant relationships will face challenging times, it is how you face those challenges that makes or breaks you. Unfortunately, there are many out there that are conflict avoiders. Obviously, I am not one, but inevitably in every marriage that I encounter there is always one person that is more assertive and another that is more passive, and when these two personalities have to tackle a problem, their conflict styles are bound to clash. The passive person feels the other one is being aggressive and in response becomes defensive or simply shuts down. This is very infuriating to the other, who can quickly cross the line from assertive to aggressive, and hopefully you can see how quickly a minor dispute can erupt into World War III.
No one is capable of withstanding repeated blows without any injury. No one. We are all human, and we do all bleed. Keeping this in mind, together with the analogy of the stroke situation, the next time an issue comes up with anyone close to you, try to quickly remove yourself from the fiery situation, calm down, and then within 20 minutes start to think: what is my window of opportunity? How can you get things flowing again before it is too late?
We have all loved and lost. Looking back we may rewrite history and convince ourselves that certain relationships just were not meant to be. But be honest- it is not always that simple, and indeed if we are being truthful with ourselves we can recognize that a lot of our personal losses stem from one thing: our inability to see that window of opportunity to make things right.
My dad says, “people see what they want to see.” Here’s hoping you see the opportunities for repair that stand before you and that you find a way to act prior to having that window close forever.
By Regina A. DeMeo, Esq.