DURING A CONVERSATION with your spouse,
when your heart rate rises over 100 beats per minute, you are
no longer reasonable. After decades of experiments with couples,
this is one of the conclusions of John Gottman, a researcher at the University
I'm sure you've already discovered that
the more upset you are, the less reasonable you are. That is,
you hold onto your position more firmly and more rigidly, and
you are less open to information or other points of view. Your
position becomes more and more absolute and one-sided the more
upset you get.
But 100 beats per minute is not very high.
I invite you to check your heart rate during the next argument
with your spouse. I have done this and was surprised to discover
that when I felt only a little upset my heart rate was 120 beats
Now of course if you continue trying to
"discuss matters" with your spouse while being unreasonable,
it is very difficult to resolve anything. An escalation of the
anger is a more likely result, leading to hurt feelings, a drop
in affection, and so on.
That's where meditation (a very easy process to learn)
can really make a difference. Experiments have shown that people who meditate
regularly don't get as upset during arguments and get over it
more quickly. Specifically, their heart rate doesn't rise as
high and returns to normal more quickly. That means they don't
spend as much time in the "unreasonable zone."
That means during disagreements with their
spouses, they would spend less time saying things they'll regret
later and there will be less hard feelings between them. And
that is good for their marraige and good for their mood.
You don't have to meditate very long to
see a change. If you're interested in trying the experiment yourself,
here's how to meditate: Gently Returning.