Defusing arguments with your partner in a healthy and mature way is the key to having a satisfying, and emotionally healthy relationship.
Arguments in your relationship are an inevitable part of life. Most of us have heated discussions with those we are closest to us, and that particularly holds true with our partners.
However, while conflicts may sometimes be unavoidable, letting matters get out of hand is not. If you find yourself in a verbal altercation, use these tips to defuse the argument and return you to a place of peace and calm where you can rationally discuss your differences.
Here Are 6 Practical Tips For Defusing Arguments With Your Partner
In most arguments, neither side is completely right or completely wrong. Your partner probably does have a point. If you can learn to see their perspective, you will understand why they are angry or upset. This will allow you to give a little ground and move toward a positive agreement.
Many fights boil down to a misunderstanding. You might not even be arguing about the same thing. Slow down and listen and you may find your differences are less significant than you thought.
2. Calm down.
Many arguments that should be minor can quickly blow up because both parties let their emotions get the better of them. In the heat of the moment, mean, damaging words can be spoken that will later be deeply regretted. Avoid such mistakes by staying as calm as possible.
Given how hard this often is to do, a good idea is to take a short break from the discussion if you feel your own intensity rising. When you take this break, don’t think about the argument or what you want to say. In fact, do something distracting, relaxing, or stress-reducing before returning to the conversation.
3. Accept your differences.
Ideally, all arguments would end with both sides agreeing and walking away happy. In the real world, some differences can’t really be solved. One of the keys to conflict management is learning when to recognize a “lost cause”. If neither of you is going to budge, then humbly end the conversation and move on.
For example, many happily married couples have learned that there are certain topics they should not discuss. Perhaps politics, or the behavior of a relative. It helps if you can accept that some problems in your marriage are not solvable.
4. Stick to the topic.
An argument about who forgot to take out the trash should not be used as an excuse to belittle your partner’s character. Such contempt (for example, insults, belligerence, eye-rolling), is very dangerous to a long-term relationship and is one of the predictors of divorce.
When you are irritated it is easy for the scope of a fight to broaden, and for the dispute to become a chance for both sides to vent their annoyance on any and all topics. This sort of “kitchen sinking” will just cause more pain and will not help solve the original problem. If you must argue, at least stay focused on the matter at hand. The more the argument centers on specifics, the better the chance for a peaceful outcome.
5. Stop caring about ‘winning’.
When couples get into big arguments, their egos can get in the way of a resolution. Sometimes a dispute of minuscule proportions will continue for hours because each partner wants to ‘win’ the argument and prove the other person wrong. Of course, this only makes matters worse.
Remember, harsh fighting is a lose-lose scenario for a marriage. You will ultimately be happier if you back down or just agree to disagree. Trying to win the argument will only make reconciliation harder.
6. Watch your body language and tone.
Confrontations that become destructive are most frequently about triggering each other. Our brains often pay more attention to the nonverbal, tone, facial expression than the actual words. Shouting and screaming, an aggressive, standoffish stance or refusing to talk can do just as much damage as harsh words spoken. Sometimes, without even noticing, a person will raise their voice or have a belligerent tone.
Pay attention to how you hold yourself, and speak in a softer, calmer, and more neutral voice. Whatever the nature of the discussion, maintaining a friendly attitude will indicate that you do not want the argument to escalate.
Share and discuss these techniques with each other. The two of you will probably still get into arguments, but at least you will have a method for minimizing unnecessary escalations or insults and resolve it without lingering bad feelings.
Bringing empathy for your partner and curiosity towards their views and feelings will also go a long way. If you find that you keep engaging in repeated, negative patterns of fighting, professional guidance from a couple therapist is always available to get you on the right track.
I’m Dr. Marni Feuerman, a highly trained couple therapist in South Florida. If you and your partner need help with communication problems, don’t hesitate to reach out to me!
No relationship is immune from friction and arguments, and neither should they be. When you argue with your partner once in a while, it means you still care about each other. But always work on handling and defusing your arguments in a healthy way, and make sure that no matter what happens, you never resort to ad hominem attacks. Your relationship does not depend on arguments; however, how you argue with each other can decide the fate of your relationship.