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Don’t Fight Hangry

It’s a known fact that conflict will happen in marriage. You and your spouse are going to disagree, argue, and perhaps even fight.

But did you know there’s a way to possibly curb the severity of these disagreements?

You’ve heard the old adage “don’t go to bed angry” but it may also be important to eat a snack before going to bed, especially if you’re planning to discuss any tense subjects on the way.

One issue with tackling tough issues in married life towards the end of the day is self-control is a finite resource. If you or your spouse have spent your energy all day on other tasks it is more likely that you’ll have less control of your reactions and responses to marital stress in the evening.

Self-control requires energy, and that energy is provided in part by glucose. Glucose is made from the food we eat being converted into neurotransmitters that provide energy for brain processes. Low glucose levels can undermine self-control because people will have insufficient energy to overcome challenges and unwanted impulses.

Put another way, there is a direct correlation between the severity of marital arguments, time of day the arguments take place and one or both spouse’s “hangriness.”

Being hangry is a combination of hungry and angry, and it merits consideration because low blood sugar can make people touchy and quick to react. This was confirmed in a 2014 study led by Ohio State University psychology researcher Brad Bushman who found that evening glucose levels could predict aggressive impulses and aggressive behaviors in married couples.

Read Next on Thriving Marriages  How to Avoid Emotional Triggers

A quick snack may stave off more than hunger. It could also prevent major fights between husbands and wives, or at least keep them from escalating.

This research studied 107 married couples for three weeks. Each night, the levels of the blood sugar glucose was measured and each participant was asked to stick pins in a voodoo doll representing his or her spouse. This indicated levels of aggressive feelings.

The researchers found that the lower the blood sugar levels, the more pins were pushed into the doll. In fact, people with the lowest scores pushed in twice as many pins as those with the highest blood sugar levels.

According to this study, there’s a good physical reason to link eating to emotion: The brain, which is only 2 percent of our body weight, consumes 20 percent of our calories.

So, eating a candy bar might be a good idea if you and your spouse are about to discuss something touchy, but fruits and vegetables are a better long-term strategy for keeping your blood sugar levels up.

Clearly if your marriage is defined by gridlock, a chocolate chip cookie is not going to solve all your problems.

But taking note of your diet and your energy may indeed help you curb your aggression toward the ones you love.

So what’s the best way to replenish your self-control and decrease the odds of a major quarrel?

Meet each other for lunch.