During a conversation with your irreplaceable other, 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 of Washington.
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 per minute!
of course if you continue trying to "discuss matters" with your loved one
while being unreasonable, it will be 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 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," which means during disagreements with their significant other, they would spend less
time saying things they'll regret later and there will be fewer hard
feelings between them. And that is good for their relationship and good for
You don't have to meditate very long to see
a change. If you're interested in trying the experiment yourself,
here's an easy way to learn to meditate: Headspace. It's an app you can put on your phone that will guide you through meditations of any length you choose. You can download it and try it for free here.
Adam Khan is the author of Antivirus For Your Mind: How to Strengthen Your Persistence and Determination and Feel Good More Often and co-author with Klassy Evans of How to Change the Way You Look at Things (in Plain English).