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This One Thing You're Doing Is Killing Your Relationship, Expert Says

Communicating with your partner shouldn't be a fight-or-flight response.

You know that feeling you get when someone does or says something that frustrates or angers you in a way that you can actually feel in your body. Maybe you sense the blood rushing to your head, or perhaps it feels like a bad version of butterflies in your stomach. Oftentimes, the feeling triggers such a visceral reaction in you, and your natural response is to say something in the heat of the moment that you may regret later on. While this innate reaction to defend yourself may be an effective tool when you're in a life-or-death situation, it can be a detrimental way to communicate in your relationship. Read on to find out more, and for other factors that keep a relationship healthy, check out 80 Percent of Couples With This in Common Stay Together, Study Finds.

Relationship expert Terry Real calls this feeling "the whoosh," and psychotherapist Juliane Taylor Shore, LPS, notes that it can happen in as little as one-twelfth of a second. Why? Well, as therapist Julia Bartz, LSW, writes in an article for Psychology Today, the response activates your brainstem, which is responsible for ensuring your survival. It's essentially the same thing as going into fight-or-flight mode. However, having a productive conversation with your partner is rarely achieved when it's rooted in survival mode, Bartz says.

Instead of snapping back at your partner, you want to respond in a way that drives the conversation forward. Otherwise your relationship is likely to pay the price. It is easier said than done, but it's worth the effort, Bartz says. Read on to discover what you should do the next time you feel "the whoosh" so you don't poison your relationship. And for more words you shouldn't utter, check out The Meanest Thing You're Saying to Your Partner Without Realizing It.

Read the original article on Best Life.

Acknowledge the feeling.

Couple fighting in the woods

First of all, you can't help if certain things trigger something in you. It will happen from time to time whether you want it to or not. What you can control, however, is how much it influences your response to whatever was said or done to cause that reaction. And the only way to do that is to acknowledge the sensation the moment you become aware of it. And for more signs your days with your partner may be numbered, check out Your Relationship Is Doomed If Your Partner Does This, Experts Say.

Take a minute to calm your emotions.

Lesbian couple looking upset after having an argument at home.

Once you've identified the feeling of being triggered, the next step is to slow down and gather yourself internally. Bartz says this may mean saying to yourself something similar to this: "I'm going to say I need to grab more hot water for my tea so that I have a few minutes to calm down. It seems like [they] are in a bad mood today; maybe this isn't about me." The important thing is to successfully bring yourself back to a stable emotional state before responding. And if you're wondering if there's infidelity in your relationship, check out The Biggest Tell-Tale Sign Your Partner Is Cheating, Experts Say.

Set a goal for what you hope to achieve with your response.

white man thinking while he leans on counter at cafe

Now that you're settled down, take another moment or two to determine what you want your response to accomplish. If that goal is for your partner to understand why what they said or did made you feel a certain way, your chances of achieving that goal and working towards a solution are far higher if you explain it to them in a calm, less emotionally driven manner, Bartz says. And for more helpful information for navigating your relationships, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Don't beat yourself up when you fail.

sad woman thinking, worst things about the suburbs

If you aren't able to successfully take all these steps in every situation, that's completely normal. The important thing is to keep trying.

"Remember, this internal redirect isn't easy," Bartz writes. "You may find that at first you're only able to catch yourself after you've reacted. But with time and practice, you should be able to notice strong emotions that arise, and take a timeout," to get yourself in a place where you can communicate effectively. And for more words you want to avoid in a particularly vulnerable situation, check out The Worst Thing You Could Say to Someone in Bed.