Good People with Bad Relationships

Do you ever wonder what causes good people to have bad relationships? There is a growing body of research giving us some distinct facts about what makes a relationship successful. The days of having a theory and writing a book then being charismatic enough to make presentations around the country are slowly diminishing. It’s being replaced with scientific measurements of perspiration, heart rate, muscle tension and ratios. 

Simply put, we can’t function when we are “charged”. In bad relationships the couple is unable to practice their marital resolution abilities. They cannot express, validate, compromise, make eye contact, and the list goes on. On a simple adrenaline test, divorced couples measure 34 percent higher during conflicts! And they wonder why they are always tired, moody and can’t get along. They are essentially physically impaired.

It’s not a difficult concept to comprehend. Do you remember your grade 10 science teacher talking about homeostasis? It was a biological concept introduced in 1932 by Physiologist, Walter Cannon. The principle is that we have a set point. When our bodies are above the set point we become deregulated. In other words we get cranky, short, will probably say things and act in ways that are unhelpful.

What is one of the set points? 100 BPM of your heart rate, “when a person’s heart rate is above 100 beats per minute (or their oxygen is below 95 percent) they can’t listen very well, they can’t empathize. They lose access to their sense of humor; they are secreting two major stress hormones: adrenaline and cortisol.”

So, what do we do? Mutually establish how you feel physically and emotionally when you are near 100 BPM’s. When you get near the “set point” or see your partner near the 100 BPM, take a time out. There are even affordable home devices to help you assess your biorhythm which helps you determine if you should go for a cup tea instead of continuing the discussion with your partner. Agree in principle first. One of the two may be more skilled than the other. Establish who that is – doesn’t matter who can do this better. We are not keeping score here! The time out/ break should be at least an hour. There is nothing wrong with 24 hours. This is what masters do.