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You may have heard from countless people and different sources about how arguments with your partner could be toxic for your relationship. Well, I have got good news for you: Arguing with your significant other doesn’t mean your relationship is doomed.
A relationship brings together two people who are essentially different – conflict is not only inevitable, it’s healthy. Couples who aren’t afraid to argue, disagree and discuss issues on a regular basis tend to have happier and healthier relationships than those who keep all of their grievances safely tucked away under the carpet, like a ticking time bomb just waiting to explode. Arguments with your partner is actually very needed to make both of you better.
Learning how to handle conflict productively can encourage communication and build emotional intimacy with your partner. In other words, it’s not about how often you fight, but how you fight. Hoping to improve your relationship? Here’s how to fight fair with your partner.
DON’T fight to win
Winning might be everything, but not when you’re in a relationship! Dr. Karin Anderson Abrell, better known as Dr. Karin, is a psychologist and author of the book Single Is The New Black: Don’t Wear White ‘Til It’s Right. Dr. Karin says it’s important for couples to remember that the goal of arguing isn’t to win. “The only true “winning” that occurs is when you both win, meaning you both feel good about the outcome and recognize that any compromises made will ultimately benefit both of you,” says Dr. Karin.
As she explains, “When we’re heated and upset, it’s easy to fall prey to the temptation to “go for the jugular.”But is it really worth it dish out a “gotcha” comeback if it means hurting your partner and damaging your relationship? It’s much better to “lose the battle” and “win the war” by keeping your relationship loving, respectful, and healthy!”
When you’re arguing with your partner it’s important that you keep a specific goal in mind; making sure the end result is that your partner is learning something about your attachment needs and feelings. Instead of reminiscing bitterly on the details of an argument, focus on how the argument made you feel. We all have different versions or memories of how a story played out. Instead of arguing about what colour of shirt you were wearing, help your partner to understand what the emotional impact was on you.
Keep things short and sweet
Couples should keep their arguments as concise as possible. Stick to the topic, don’t branch off and open 10 different conversations at the same time. Take turns sharing and validating each other’s feelings, and no interrupting while the other is speaking. Remember that you love each other even if you are angry in the moment.
Ask yourself, what’s the deeper meaning here?
Couples often argue about surface issues that represent deeper values/issues/concerns. Here is a suggestion for you: When you find yourself sparing, reflect on what the underlying concern might be. If you’re able to identify the issue that’s fueling the quarrel, you’ll be able to (a) tackle the true problem and (b) often avoid fighting in the first place!
So, how do you accomplish this? You need to be very reflective even in the midst of an argument. It’s not easy, but remaining mindful even during a blow-up allows you to fight fairly and maintain respect for your partner. It also helps you learn about your partner – the issues that get him/her upset are ones you can be sensitive to in the future.
Don’t be afraid to take a time out
If you feel the argument is getting heated and you’re about to start name calling, take a 20 minute time out. Desecrating each other’s character is damaging to the relationship and totally useless in terms of productive fighting. Use a fight to learn something about one another. If it escalates to name calling, no one will feel safe or open enough to learn anything.
Fight with love
Notice your partner getting testy? Diffuse the situation with love. Take a step back to consider how your partner is feeling. “Is he/she feeling unappreciated? Have we neglected him/her? Have we become too preoccupied with life’s responsibilities that we’ve failed to nurture our relationship?”. Sometimes the best way to fight is to “shelve” the argument and spend some time appreciating one another, remembering why you fell in love in the first place. After spending time communicating how much you love one another (verbally or physically!) you may pull the argument back off the shelf and realize it wasn’t all that important in the first place.
If you are able to keep these things in mind each time there is an argument with your partner, you will realize how well it impacts positively on your relationship, and you get to argue less and less with your partner.