ARGUING IN A RELATIONSHIP
There is a strange amount of interest around arguing as a couple. I get so many messages requesting posts on fighting / arguments that it forced me to really think about it and come up with an appropriate way to get into the topic. It’s quite personal, but I get the intrigue. When you know a couple, or even follow one on social media, or watch them on TV it’s only natural for this to cross your mind–I wonder what they are like in a fight?
I’ve had my fair share of fights with guys so I won’t name anyone in particular, but I’ve had to learn each one’s arguing “style” to find a resolution. I think one of the biggest mistakes people make in relationships is assume the other person thinks or argues the same way you do. It takes a lot of time, patience, and experience to really figure someone out, but once you do it will make your arguments productive and over faster.
In my opinion there needs to be a level of respect already established within a relationship for any of this to actually apply, otherwise arguments can escalate and nothing gets accomplished. I don’t really know how to structure this post so I’m just going to do a little bullet point list of things I feel are important to know, things that help me / us, and things I’ve learned over the years.
-Pick your battles. It may have taken me until age 30 to learn this, but some things just aren’t worth arguing over. You don’t want to ignore something that is ongoing since it will most likely build up & you’ll explode later. However, if something seems like it won’t happen again, or if the other person already acknowledged it being wrong, or it didn’t actually bother you, just leave it. Save your energy for something that matters to you.
-What’s your argument “style?” Some people raise their voices, some cuss, some cry, some ignore a situation, some walk away, some apologize, some are stubborn, some sleep on the couch, some hold a grudge, some shut down, some drag on…everyone is different. Believe it or not, I’ve dealt with ALL of the above; however, not just in relationships with significant others, but with people (friends, family, coworkers, etc.). I’ve learned how to handle each type of arguer, and honestly it says a lot about a person.
I personally like to express myself right away. I can’t wait until later or sleep on it. Once something bothers me I need to get it off my chest otherwise I’ll be weird. I have the ability to be cool, calm, & collected, and I have the ability to be a RAGING bitch. It all depends on how I’m approached. Being able to adapt to a situation, or even better, bring an argument somewhere else more calm is key.
-Fighting is caring? I have had boyfriends that just don’t like to argue so they would apologize and be done with it. It didn’t necessarily bother me, but I felt a little playacted. When someone is willing to get into it (obviously never physically) I feel it shows passion and that they care. Someone who dismisses a fight or doesn’t bother to engage basically is saying they don’t care. Ideally you’ll argue with someone who cares enough to engage, but knows how to keep his / her cool.
-Stay rational. This can be REALLY hard, but removing your emotions from a fight that isn’t about emotions will be the best way to reach a resolution. Don’t dwell or analyze things too deeply–take things at face value and communicate.
-Establish a goal. A common goal, at that. If you can both come to an understanding about something and just have to find a way to get there, you’ve basically already won. When 2 people can acknowledge a problem and agree on a resolution the rest should be cake. Just move forward and don’t look back.
It doesn’t have to be a “fight.” Sometimes a person’s perception of the “fight” is what makes it a fight. I don’t like to call my arguments fights–that word is WAY too aggressive. I call them disagreements or arguments, which are basically serious conversations. Sometimes they get heated, but ultimately if you respect someone you should be able to sensor yourself naturally.
-Don’t say something you’ll regret later. You can’t un-hear something, so be careful about speaking out of anger. I find that trait in people to be so ugly and honestly I have a little of that in me sometimes. My instinct is to defend myself, especially when approached in a nasty way, but I make SUCH an effort to subdue that urge and keep things PG(13).
-Take a break. I truly, truly, truly have to force myself to do this. Sometimes if an argument is going nowhere you need to take minute with the intent of coming back. Leave the room, sit down, take a few deep breaths, close your eyes, and just clear your mind. Allow that anger to leave your mind and body. After a few minutes (or more?) approach the situation again.
-Finish an argument. Some arguments are bigger than others and seem to never end, but I cannot sleep / work / read / watch TV / socialize / live my life with a lingering argument. It’s all I can think about. I prefer to deal with it head-on and move on with my life.
-Forgive & Forget. I know that typically applies to bigger things like cheating (something I’ve thankfully never had to deal with), but I think it should apply to any argument. Once it’s resolved it’s important to move on and not harp on about them again or in another argument. Holding grudges is so toxic and I honestly think it affects your health. That negativity just needs to go.
-Arguing is healthy. When people say they don’t argue I raise an eyebrow. How?! Are you even human?! I have far too many thoughts / opinions / quirks to not ever fight. As I said above, an argument doesn’t have to be loud and nasty, but a disagreement every now and then is perfectly healthy. In fact (going to overshare a bit here, sorry Paul), I find that every few months Paul and I will have one big argument (typically over something pretty insignificant), we will get mad for an hour or two, resolve the issue, and then move on. It’s only natural to argue so when it’s time just let it happen rather than avoiding it, you’ll relationship will be even stronger after.
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