Shut Up!

09 Oct

At the beginning of Maya’s Gold, my characters, Stanton Black and Maya Valentine argued at the drop of a hat. I like to put that kind of verbal bantering in my stories, because I think it can add humor and, I hope, sexual tension. But in real life, I’ve always thought of fighting as a bad thing or something to prevent from happening.

I learned a lot in the Psychology class I took a couple of years ago. One topic I remember very clearly had to do with male female relationships and arguing. Psychologist John Gottman, who is known for his five-to-one-ratio of positive interactions to negative interactions in relationships, says that verbal fighting, whether rare or frequent, is sometimes the healthiest thing a couple can do for the relationship. In fact, blunt anger, appropriately expressed, seems to immunize marriages.  Gottman also states that, couples who start out complaining about each other have some of the most stable marriages over time, while those who do not fight early on are more likely to face the road to divorce.

What to do with the rest of us who can’t open up like Maya and Stanton? Maintain the five-to-one ratio, Gottman says. And that men should help with the housework, but that is another story.


Posted by on October 9, 2011 in Idaho


8 responses to “Shut Up!

  1. Janis

    October 9, 2011 at 7:28 AM

    Ah, relationships. The stuff dreams (and nightmares) are made of.

    Historically, women avoided arguing because they were brought up to be the helpmeet (a less common word for helpmate — C17: from the phrase ‘an helpe meet (suitable) for him’ Genesis 2:18] Collins English Dictionary – Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition 2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd.). As you can see, this was a long, long, etc., time ago.

    That meant you didn’t disagree with the man. Remember the cigarette ad, You’ve come a long way, Baby? Virginia Slims 1978. Not a great product to use the message on, but it’s the women who had to give themselves the permission to speak up and argue with their SOs. But, it’s been a high mountain to climb. Avoiding conflict seems easier until it erodes the ground underneath you and you fall.

    AND, this doesn’t address a man who refuses to engage when you want to clear the air. He might retreat behind his work, his paper, or his television. Aside from blowing up the walls he’s put up, you might not have a choice when it comes to arguing.

    Interesting topic, Mary. I’ll remember the five-to-one ratio in my writing. Thanks.

    • Clarissa Southwick

      October 9, 2011 at 11:53 AM

      Hi Mary, Lots of good information here. Five to One, add humor. . . hmmm. Thanks for giving me a few things to think about when I write my “fight” scenes.”

    • Mary Vine

      October 9, 2011 at 2:18 PM

      Thanks, Janis! Yes, we’ve come a long way baby! I think women having there own way of making a living helps, too.

  2. Carley Ash

    October 9, 2011 at 10:34 AM

    Oh, no! We don’t fight, but he does do dishes & laundry — which may be why we don’t fight. 🙂

  3. Mary Vine

    October 9, 2011 at 2:20 PM

    We do more of the snappy, tired stuff. At least we usually realize it happens because we’re hungry or tired.

  4. Liz Fredericks

    October 9, 2011 at 7:28 PM

    Interesting post, Mary! I’ve read Gottman’s work; it’s quite thought-provoking.

  5. Steph

    October 11, 2011 at 10:23 AM

    Boy, Mary, do you ever make me feel better. My husband and I were born fighting. I swear, he is from another planet. But, it’s worth it to make up. LOL


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