4 Ways To Keep Arguments From Damaging Your Relationship
"The strongest relationships are thick with arguments. No epic love stories were ever written about complacency from years of living in the doldrums of lame B.S."
This was the opening line of an article I recently read.
The author also went on to mention that “fighting is the key ingredient to keeping passion alive."
Now, two people sharing their lives for an extended period of time are going to have disagreements. The idea that fighting is something you ‘should’ do to keep the passion alive though? I don’t think so.
At the same token, just because a couple fights, doesn’t mean their relationship is damaged goods either.
What makes your relationship work is not whether you and your partner argue or not, but how you and your partner argue.
Couples who have a lot of damaging arguments in their relationship seem to make the same mistakes over and over.
Let me fill you in on a few of them you can avoid:
Not Being Clear About Your Gripe
In the heat of an argument, it’s easy to communicate from a place of frustration, anger, disappointment or whatever else we may be feeling in the moment.
While there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, it’s important that your issue is clear to your partner if you want it resolved.
It’s not enough to just say, “I’m mad at you”, or “I hate it whenever you do that stupid thing”.
Make sure you’re clear about what’s wrong, why and offer a solution for what you can do about it. That might sound something like, “When you did XY&Z, it made me feel like this, and here’s what I think we should do about it.”
Clarity will get you both to the point quicker, so you can spend your time focusing on finding a resolution instead of bickering.
Allowing Emotions To Get In The Way
While we’re on the topic of emotions, it’s important to highlight this myth that emotions only make arguments worse, and that you should avoid any disagreement when you’re emotional.
That couldn’t be further from the truth.
It’s okay to feel angry. It’s okay to feel frustrated. Sad. Disappointed. Whatever.
Where emotions become a problem is when you allow them to become excuses for hurtful behavior.
Being angry doesn’t make it okay to be condescending to your partner. Being disappointed doesn’t make it okay to name-call or put your partner down.
As adults, we have to be able to process our feelings without our partner becoming a victim along the way. So, just be mature about it.
Not Owning Your Part of the Issue
You’ll be surprised how short your arguments would be if you would just be okay with saying, "I’m sorry. I was wrong."
Was it 100% your fault? Probably not. Did your partner have their part in it? Maybe they did.
But spending your time trying to convince your partner to apologize or justifying your screw up only keeps the argument going.
Acknowledging where you could do better and giving the first apology though? That goes a long way to getting to the core of the issue and finding the best way to move forward.
Only Addressing The Surface Issue
As a coach, it’s my job to help couples get to the root of their problems. You’d be surprised to know how often what you're fighting about isn’t even the real problem.
For instance, if you’re upset that your partner was late to come pick you up and you end up arguing about what time they should be leaving their house, you’re arguing about the wrong thing.
The real problem is about how you feel, not how late they left. You’re upset because you feel being punctual shows respect for your time. Their lateness makes you feel like your time isn’t important to them.
Some couples will focus on arguing about traffic and how long it takes to get ready when the real conversation they should be having is about respect.
Focus on the real issue, because when you can resolve that, that argument won't keep coming back again and again.
So what are some mistakes you and your partner make that fuel your arguments? How are you handling them? Leave a comment and let me know!