Eleven Approaches Leading To Less Unhealthy Arguments With One's Partner
Jan 12, 2021 by apost team
It’s normal for people to argue, particularly if they’re in a relationship. Sometimes, you may find yourself arguing with your partner because you want to communicate something genuine, like how you’re feeling about something. You may also argue with them because they are not behaving or treating you as you expect.
Although your intentions may be sincere, things can get out of hand during an argument and even break an otherwise long-lasting relationship. Luckily, there are ways to prevent that from happening. It is possible to argue healthily and maintain your relationship. Here are a few tips that can help to bridge gaps in understanding between you and your partner.
1. Pause And Think First
Arguments can get out of hand easily. In the heat of the moment, you may find yourself saying something hurtful to even things out if you feel like your partner is hurting you. While saying something negative always feels somewhat expedient, it is one of the reasons arguments get out of control.
When you are really angry during an argument, pause before you say anything. Think about what you are going to say next, and consider the possibility that it will hurt your partner. If you realize that it may hurt them, ask yourself one important question: “When I say it, will my relationship improve or become worse?” If the answer is improvement, you may say it. If it’s not, then it only makes sense to keep it to yourself.
2. Keep Your Voice Down
During an argument, you might raise your voice while trying to get your message across. However, it’s always a bad way of solving issues. Psychology Today reports that raising your voice is one of the most effective methods to worsen small squabbles in a relationship. Besides making you sound irrational, the action can hurt your partner’s feelings. Some therapists actually advise their clients to whisper when they’re fighting to prevent negative feelings from surging or to quell any existing ones.
3. Avoid Being Abusive
Whether the abuse is physical, emotional, verbal, or mental, it is totally unacceptable and damaging. Many partners who are often abusive don’t even touch their partners. They kick and break things, punch walls and furniture, and do other similar things that make it difficult to talk or solve issues amicably. Since it’s usually difficult to make things work when things get to this point, therapists recommend seeking professional assistance.
4. Take Advantage Of Timeouts
It helps to take timeouts whenever you’re arguing with your partner, and that’s why many therapists recommend them. During an argument, both partners can become very angry and start making wrong decisions, including about what they’re going to say next. At that point, it’s important to calm down. When they cool off, partners become better able to think clearly and finish the argument more rationally and respectfully.
5. Choose “I” Over “You”
As you can imagine, using “you” when trying to solve an issue with your partner can make them feel targeted. Therapists often recommend avoiding the word and using “I” instead — as much as possible. That works because it takes the pressure away from the other person. Studies have shown that "I" statements reduce hostility and defensiveness, while "you" statements actually provoke anger. For instance, saying “I am angry” as opposed to “You angered me” feels lighter and less like an attack. The latter would make your partner defensive, reducing your chances of getting your message across.
6. Don’t Threaten Your Partner With A Break-Up
If you want to make your partner feel scared or hurt, especially during an argument, you may find yourself threatening to break up with them. However, that’s not a wise thing to do if you’re trying to work things out. Moreover, it’s never a good idea to make threats you cannot follow through on. "While breakups do happen, if you have no intent to leave, you should never threaten your partner with a break up to get your way," author and counselor Jonathan Bennett tells Insider. "Fear of losing someone you love is very powerful and threats like that can create anxiety and depression, especially if your partner has abandonment issues or other mental health problems."
Before you say the statement, also ask yourself, “What if they agree?” Even if your partner begged you not to break up with them, the statement would have a lasting negative impact on your relationship. For one, they may start feeling insecure; it’s what people feel when they think it’s easy to be abandoned. If your relationship is going through a rough patch, the effect can be even worse.
7. Listen More Instead Of Getting Defensive
When someone is attacking us, we’re naturally bound to defend ourselves. This is especially so if we think that they’re wrong. When you’re arguing with your partner, it’s difficult to avoid going on the defensive. According to therapists, however, it’s important to listen patiently to what the person speaking has to say. Pay attention to the message instead of just waiting for your turn to speak. Non-defensive listening is one of the most effective ways to improve and strengthen your relationship, according to GroundWork Counseling.
If you think about it, when you're just waiting to speak, it simply means you’re not really hearing what the other person is saying and carefully considering what you'll say in return. Instead, you're thinking about what you can defend yourself with. Active listening, conversely, means that you want to solve the problem because you’re really digesting and trying to understand what your partner is saying.
8. Work Toward Solving The Issue
When you’re going through a fight, focus on solving the problem. Unfortunately, many couples focus more on confronting the other person and trying to prove that they are right. When you attack them and defend yourself, you’re more likely to get the same actions from your partner. Ultimately, your problem will still remain. It’s important not to forget why you’re fighting in the first place. You are fighting to solve a particular problem, not to hurt each other. As a popular saying goes: "It's you two versus the problem, not you versus him/her."
9. Avoid Complaining Too Much
Although complaining is important to some extent, it can make things worse if it gets out of hand or if it’s not healthy anymore. If you think that your partner is not understanding you, you can rephrase your words and change your tone. That will make the complaints seem more like suggestions.
10. Seek Out Suggestions to Improve Yourself
Instead of thinking of all the ways to prove that you are right or simply have an upper hand during your arguments, you should try to find ways of preventing or reducing conflicts in the future. One of the best ways of doing that is by asking your partner to give you suggestions for how you can improve. Feedback is important for growth, and therapists recommend it in relationships to make arguments healthier.
Partners in relationships should learn how to compromise. You should treat your partner like a part of you, as you entered into a relationship with them because you wanted to share your life with them. If you want your relationship to last, it's essential to compromise as much as possible. To do so, however, you have to be selfless and empathetic. If both partners put the effort in to compromise in a relationship, both of them come out as winners instead of only one person feeling like they are doing the lion's share of the work.
Arguments are normal; when done healthily, they actually have the potential to improve relationships. Follow the 11 tips above to turn your arguments into helpful practices that can make you and your partner better people.istockphotos.com/monkeybusinessimages
Do you have any tips for healthier arguments? If so, let us know about it in the comments below! And don't forget to share this with your friends if you think they might like to know about this as well.