As I have said many times before, arguments in a relationship generally stem from not feeling loved, valued or respected enough. Humans are creatures of emotions and moments, so it is almost impossible to avoid arguments one hundred percent of the time.
The skill though is to recognise arguments early and if avoiding them is not possible then trying to move through them in the most amicable and beneficial way for your relationship is the number one priority. Below are a number of ways to deal with arguments in a relationship…
Misconceptions surrounding arguments in relationships:
Some people claim that arguments are “healthy in relationships” and others state that “you only argue with the people you love”. Whilst these have some truth to them, they are rationalising the problem from an extrinsic viewpoint.
The reason why someone would think that arguments are healthy in relationships is because they produce a profound spike of emotions. A heavy third of attraction is based around creating emotional spikes, and negative emotions in a relationship often SEEM better than neutral or passive emotions.
When someone refers to arguments being healthy, what they actually mean is that the emotional rollercoaster of feeling their partner cares and the bliss of the making-up period is conducive to the relationship as a whole. There are better ways of achieving this though and whilst a strong will and display of emotions is imperative to a long-lasting relationship, you want to always try to make them wholly positive emotions. You don’t have to argue to express your feelings or to have a making-up period!
As for only arguing with the people you love, this largely depends on an individual’s personality and general self-esteem. People who are largely dependent on their ego tend to argue more often to try and prove their points. Others may only argue with the ones they love, sometimes purely as an act of passion. Even if this is true, there are far better ways to show you love someone than by arguing with them.
The main reason to avoid arguments:
Arguments can often feel like you are fighting a losing battle and that is because you simply cannot WIN an argument… or rather, if you do “win”, it is going to be a rather hollow victory, where your partner simply feels bad or upset, so try wherever possible to avoid any arguments in the first place. This takes effort from both people in the relationship so make sure your communication with your partner is as good as it can be.
A great quote from Dale Carnegie is, “A man convinced against his will, is of the same opinion still”
What he means by this is that even if you do quash your partner’s viewpoints with logic or authority, they will resent the outcome and not actually change their deep-rooted view anyway. Basically, it is impossible for two people to come out of an argument both feeling pleased.
This is where an argument and a discussion vary in definition: an argument is a discussion with emotion, or more specifically, negative emotion! The old cliché “let’s agree to disagree” is severely underrated and is generally the best course of action if a discussion is becoming heated and an argument seems inevitable.
Now for some practical steps for dealing with arguments in a relationship…
Have some space:
The first and best advice shortly after having an argument (or during one if it is clear that it won’t be resolved amicably) is to have some space. This could be as little as a few minutes of realisation or as much as a couple of hours to calm down and think over what is important to you in the given situation. It is rare for arguments between couples to be anything more than ego orientated and it is rare an argument has actual crucial substance to it if it is fully broken down… although it won’t seem like that at the time!
Having some space allows each of you to rationalise and understand your own feelings and logically diagnose why you feel it. Then you can discuss together what the issues are, maturely and peacefully.
Try to avoid point scoring:
Point scoring involves bringing up past, trivial examples that you feel at the time will back up your argument. Saying things such as, “yes but you always…” or “what about that time when you…” do nothing to help you in an argument. All they do is stir up past resentments and add further negative feelings to the mix.
Ignore past examples or past arguments completely and focus only on your current feelings when discussing them with your partner.
Try to avoid blame:
It takes two people to argue and so whatever an argument is about, it is equally BOTH of your faults. A common progression from a dispute is that it actually turns into a tirade of working out whose “fault” the argument was, which is an absurd outcome.
Try to phrase anything you say in this emotionally volatile state as personal feelings without blame. Turn phrases such as “you did…” into “I feel… when…”
Modified phrases such as the above may sound mildly patronising depending on their delivery, but you will gain so much more respect from your partner in doing this. It will allow them to understand your stance more easily and actually make them want to resolve the issue with you.
In a similar fashion, you want to respect your partner’s views and not become defensive. Maybe you don’t agree with them but making them feel inferior for disagreeing with you is probably why the argument erupted in the first place.
A related article that touches on some of the points in this article but from a different angle is How to get through bad patches in a relationship.
In a future article I will explain in greater detail how to prevent arguments from taking place in your relationship BEFORE they happen. 🙂