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... The art of arguing The art of arguing

7 February 2008

According to a study from the University of Michigan published last week, arguing with your partner can lead to a longer life.

Researchers followed 192 couples over 17 years for the study, which took into account age, smoking, weight, blood pressure, bronchial problems, breathing and cardiovascular risk.

Four groups were identified - couples in which both partners express their anger, couples in which both spouses suppress their feelings and an inverted three and four where one spouse says how they feel and the other holds back.

Half of the 26 pairs where both partners suppressed their anger died during the study period compared to 41 deaths in the remaining 166 pairs.

More than a quarter of the suppressive-suppressive couples lost a member during the study period, and in 23 per cent of cases both partners died.

In the remaining groups, both spouses died in only six per cent of cases and 19 per cent saw one partner die during the study period.

Responding to the study, psychotherapist Derek Draper and his TV presenter wife Kate Garraway echoed the sentiments of the study's lead author Ernest Harburg.

Writing in the Daily Mail, Draper said being able to disagree is "a key foundation of a happy, successful relationship".

"Arguments that just go round in circles are likely to prove frustrating because no matter how much nagging and shouting is involved, little genuine communication is going on," he continued.

"If your rows fit this pattern, it's time to try to talk to your partner about what really troubles them."

Draper says having humour when expressing your annoyance is key and also making small concessions - the example he uses is putting the toilet seat back down after using it - to avoid pointless conflict.

Garraway, like her husband, emphasises the importance of humility - and remembering what is important amidst your rage.