All couples have arguments it is completely normal and healthy to disagree on topics and to discuss your different opinions. But do you find that most difference of opinions turn into World War III? Do arguments tend to end with one person storming out of the room or with tears, screaming or the silent treatment? It is really easy to fall into unhelpful communication patterns at the best of times, but add in feeling stressed, tired and emotional and what started off as a relatively simple discussion can end in frustration and resentment. Here are some tips to help:
Everything but the kitchen sink!
Keep to the present during an argument and avoid bringing up past mistakes and other topics. Also keep to the issue at hand; if there are other unresolved issues then discuss them, but make it a separate conversation. If you do have recurring arguments about the same issue, you need to either sit down and work through it – or if that isn’t working, perhaps seeking counselling. Sometimes you just have to agree to disagree.
If you know each other well then you would have worked out each other’s sensitive points or ‘buttons’ by now. Avoid pressing buttons as this will only add fuel to the fire and take you further away from resolving the issue. Pressing each others buttons (as tempting as it might be at the time) will only escalate the argument further and won’t solve anything.
Winning is not everything
Going into an argument wanting to ‘win’ means that your partner’s only option is to ‘lose’. This will naturally make the ‘loser’ resentful and want to get even neither of these will help your relationship. As Dr Phil says, do you want to win? Or do you want to be happy? Truer words were never spoken!
There is a time and place for it
Choosing to start an argument during your childrens’ bedtime, in front of other people, when one of you is walking out of the door, or a multitude of other inappropriate times is never going to end well. In order to have a fair fight, there needs to be two willing participants as well as adequate time to talk through the issues. Set a time to talk to your partner – that way you can both agree to discuss the issue and have time to consider what you want to say.
Put yourself into their shoes
Listen really listen to what they are saying. It is never going to be harmful to try and see the issue from your partner’s perspective. Trying to understand each other’s views will help to resolve the issue quicker.
Sometimes agreeing to disagree is the only likely outcome and that is okay. Coming to this conclusion leaves you both feeling respected and heard. A great way of ensuring your argument doesn’t get out of hand it to make a point of facing each other, and holding hands. I know it sounds silly, but it’s hard to get even madder at your partner when you are so close and physically holding each other.
Keep it to the two of you
Your mother-in-law, best friend, neighbour, sister, brother and most especially your child, do not need to be involved in your argument. There are only two of you in your relationship so there only needs to be two of you in the argument. The only exception to this rule is if you need an independent third party to help you come to a resolution, for example a mediator or relationship counsellor.
When it is over it’s over
This ties in with the first point once the argument has been resolved do not keep bringing it up or rubbing your partner’s nose in it. Allowing your partner to ‘save face’ shows them respect and besides, you never know if you will be in the wrong next time!
Finish the argument
Stay in it until the end. Leaving the room or just refusing to continue does not provide a resolution so the issue will keep coming up. If your argument is interrupted then make sure you find a mutually agreeable time to finish your conversation.
No Violence – EVER!
This hopefully should go without saying violence is not only a crime, but it also shows disrespect and is NEVER an acceptable way to resolve a problem.
Hopefully you and your partner can adopt these rules and make any future disagreements into a fair fight. When emotions are involved it is very easy to fall into old habits. Learning to fight fairly is a skill, and like any new skill, it takes time and practice!
Written by Tamara Laing. Tamara is a SAHM to her gorgeous little munchkin, Andrew. In her spare time (what’s that?) she enjoys reading trashy mags, watching TV and sleeping!