Improve Conflict Resolution In Your Marriage: Using Mirror Neurons To Your Advantage


When you get into an argument with your spouse, have you ever felt like it went from 0 to 100 really quickly?


You know the scenario. 


They start yelling so you get defensive and start doing exactly the same thing. Before you know it, you’re both yelling, nobody is actually listening.

And nothing gets resolved.


What if I told you that this could be explained by science? If you understand how your brain works, you can use science to help improve conflict resolution with your spouse.


We are all responsible for our own behavior but it’s easy to be influenced by other people’s emotions and behaviors because of mirror neurons – neurons that prompt us to match the feelings and behavior of others.1


Today, we’re going to discuss what mirror neurons are, the role they play in relationships, and how you can use this phenomenon to improve conflict resolution with your spouse. 

What Are Mirror Neurons?


When you’ve been married or in a long-term partnership with someone it’s easy to be influenced by their emotions and behavior. Part of the reason you feel this way is because of mirror neurons.


When you see another person go through something difficult or engage in a specific behavior your brain can activate similar neurons to match the behavior or feeling.1,2  These mirror neurons allow us to quickly recognize other people’s emotions and empathize with them.


Let’s take a look at how this shows up in real life. 


  • When a good friend tells you they just landed their dream job you immediately jump and down with excitement for them.


  • Someone close to you is experiencing a divorce and they’re so heartbroken you sit and cry with them.


  • You argue with someone and they start to yell and you immediately do the same, matching their voice level and tone.


  • When you’re watching TV and someone gets hurt you wince because you can almost feel it.


Mirror neurons allow us to form deeper connections with others and help us understand why people behave in certain ways. 3

But it can also influence negative behavior as well. You know the saying misery loves company? Well, it’s true!


Negative emotions are transferred more easily than positive ones, but you can be the catalyst for change.


When you understand how mirror neurons can help you shape your behavior you can see differences in your spouse’s behavior as well. It may take effort on your part, but when one person changes – most often – the other will too.  

Using Mirror Neurons To Improve Conflict Resolution


When you’re in conflict with your spouse and emotions run high, things can get very heated. It can be hard to be the “bigger person”, but change needs to start somewhere, right?


The fact remains that you can change your behavior and then observe the impact it has on your spouse’s mirror neurons. You can try to move the situation in a more positive direction by changing your language and behavior to reflect an atmosphere of calm, mutual respect, and empathy.


Now, it’s important to understand that this isn’t guaranteed to work but the majority of people will have a hard time continuing argumentative, combative behavior when the other person isn’t engaging in that way. 


Let’s talk about practical ways this can be applied. Here’s what you can do:


Change your tone of voice


Often in arguments, there is yelling or even a tone that can be viewed as accusatory or condescending. There is a big difference between a calm tone of voice and a condescending one. Take some time to reflect on which tone you’re using. If you aren’t sure, ask your spouse. They’ll be happy to tell you.


You can be the first one to stop yelling, bring your tone of voice down, and speak with a calm, even pace. Choose language that’s not accusatory and ask open-ended questions. 

Be aware of body language


Body language and posture are so important when you’re face-to-face with someone. Your body language and facial expressions can send nonverbal messages that can either help or hurt the situation. 


Ways to improve communication with body language:

  • Have an open posture and avoid crossing your  arms
  • Make eye contact
  • Be aware of facial expressions: match your facial expressions with the tone you’re trying to set
  • Avoid rolling your eyes, frowns, and looks of disgust 
  • Avoid pointing at someone, tapping your foot, expressing frustration with gasps, sighs, or other noises


Setting the tone with the right body language can help the other person be less defensive and help them feel heard. 




Try to explore your spouse’s perspective on the situation. If you can gain a better understanding of their thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and actions it can improve communication in your marriage. 


Try to explore….

  • What is their perspective on the situation?
  • How did they interpret the situation? 
  • What feelings from their past did it bring up? 
  • How did it make them feel?


Once you explore this with your spouse, you can better understand why they responded a certain way. You don’t have to agree with someone’s actions to understand why they did something. 


Listening to their perspective, getting insight into their thoughts and feelings, and validating where they are coming from can strengthen your conflict resolution skills. This isn’t a one way street. Once you open the door to understanding their perspective, it’s time for you to share yours too. If you can lessen the tension, it allows more time and space for both of you to openly communicate. 


People want to feel seen, heard and understood. Taking the time to see a situation from the other person’s point of view can help deescalate a tense situation quickly. If the tension is too intense, it might be a good time to seek out a couples therapist and how neurofeedback can help.


How Neurofeedback Can Help


Neurofeedback is a brain optimization system that can help. It’s an effective tool to help promote overall wellness and increase resilience and flexible thinking skills.


Many people find when they use neurofeedback they become more mindful and can identify triggers that lead to negative communication patterns. Communication improves when you’re able to have conversations feeling more calm and relaxed. 


How can neurofeedback help you in your marriage?

It can…

  • Help you feel relaxed 
  • Help you stay calm in uncertainty
  • Promotes a better night’s sleep
  • Slow down before reacting
  • Promote mental and emotional resilience


If you start approaching situations with more calmness and clarity, you can help be the catalyst for change when it comes to communication and conflict resolution in your marriage, eliciting those mirror neurons from your spouse. 

Are you interested in learning more about how neurofeedback can help you? 

Fill out our contact form or call or call us at 303-222-5118

We’re here to answer all your questions.



  1. Evidence of Mirror Systems in Emotions
  2. Harvard: Brain Science To Improve Your Relationships
  3. Mirror Neurons: From Origin To Function. Cook, et al. 2014.