A healthy relationship has its ups and downs, with the downs sometimes seemingly more often than one would like. But did you know that the convenient tool of text messaging during an argument just might facilitate a terminal outcome?
All relationships have their moments and to be honest, a healthy bout of disagreement probably does more good than bad in keeping the fires going. But what happens when a couple finds themselves in a hardline argument and uses a convenient tool of communication to navigate the storm?
Well, by no means does it mean sudden death but it sure can can cause a ship to sink.
In an article in Psychology Today, Dr. Jefferson Singer talks of how a couple who had broken up shared a dialogue of texting in order to communicate. In the course of a heated argument, people might have a tendency to say or do things they don't completely mean. Maybe they leave to escape the situation or say something they later regret. But should the process of discussion be limited to texting?
A 2" x 2" screen of coded words, void of any emotions or true feelings does little to capture ones real meaning when working through a difficult situation. Black and white text on an electronic device sent in a heated rage or in retaliation to another's words seems so childish in hindsight.
It could look like this:
U were a jerk
Look i tried 2b nice but u ovrreacted
me? i over reacted w'evr
w'ever is right btw u said some nasty things 2 u know
YEA! only AFTER U were an ass
I don't have to take this
Fine go to hell....
U go2 hell
Back and forth no one takes ownership, just blame. Few words, no smells or positive memory recalls. No facial responses that elicit forgiveness and sensitivity. The things that remind us of why we love someone.
In Dr. Singer's article, he talks about the mental imagery that is necessary to open up the memory drawer of shared moments. Texting doesn't tap into mental imagery or recall. There is no voice, no smell, no sight and no touch. Even a hand written letter does better at capturing the true essence of a relationship because it can draw upon a scent of perfume or the way a person crosses their "t".
The unique handwriting; choice of paper and pen; the scent of perfume, aftershave, cigarette, or coffee that is a stowaway within the folds of paper; the sheer word count of the typical letter that only a Tolstoy of the touchpad could match - all of these elements conjure up specific memories and physical images of the person writing the letter. Even a "Dear John" letter helps you to know better who the Jill is that is rejecting you.
So its easy to see how a simple disagreement between a couple can quickly escalate into an all out war simply by removing the physical elements that make the relationship what it is (or was) in the first place.
There are reports running through the media telling of how texting can help strengthen relationships and to be honest, a simple text saying "hey, i luv u" isn't a replacement for human contact but it can be a nice addition to a day. And there is a fine line to when simple becomes obsessive, just like the article in The Washington Post shows.
Still, arguing via text can signify disaster. If you must use the phone, call instead of texting. Communicate with the voice. Better yet, sit face to face and talk. Good or bad, it is human contact in problem resolution and may remind you of the reasons why you love you partner so much. If you have to write, try a letter. The bottom line is tapping into the memory bank.
Communication is the key to making it work.