Masthead header

Marriage Manners Monday | When Reasonable People Argue …

The reality of it is this – We are all going to have arguments, whether we like it or not. With so many people coexisting together, and everybody bringing their own opinion and ideas about how things “should be done” … some feathers are bound to be ruffled. Fact is that you’re not going to avoid ever having an argument. The trick is to learn how to settle the argument in a way that will preserve, or even strengthen, your relationship.

Here are five handy steps to keep in mind the next time you find yourself mired in an argument. And these five steps work, regardless of whether your argument is over something major or minor.

1. Try to stay calm

It’s harder to argue with someone who is calm, so blowing up along with your partner who’s using heated words at you is definitely akin to throwing oil on fire. PLUS … staying calm helps to keep the argument focused on the dispute. There’s nothing worse than dredging up old history in the heated moments of an argument. And that doesn’t help at all! So take some time to get calm. This can provide an emotional break, which can give you a moment to reflect on what’s going on.

2. Keep the interaction focused on the specific dispute at hand

Don’t stray, don’t dredge, don’t harbour resentment. Keep your focus on what’s bothering you at the moment, and resolvement will come more quickly. And whatever you do, keep all comments argument specific, and do not let statements deteriorate into personal comments and accusations, which can be so much more hurtful, and take longer to heal.

3. Use the words I FEEL when describing your emotional state

“When you watch TV instead of offering to help me clean up” … instead of “You never help out around here” – this communicates to your partner how you feel, which helps them to understand where your frustration is stemming from.

4. Don’t just hear…listen

You may think that you’re listening … but are you really? Listening means hearing and understanding what a person is saying. In the heat of an argument, it’s incredibly easy to not hear the other person. And sometimes, it’s when you stop listening which is when you don’t hear the important facts and points, which you may not have considered. So take a deep breath – and listen.

5. Try to move the argument to a speedy resolution

Remember that later in the evening, you’re going to have to get in bed with the person you’re arguing with. If you’ve already come to a resolution and started the healing process, that moment will be a lot more pleasant than if the wound is still open, raw and uncared for.

Photo: KGood Photo

…we all have different techniques to help us through the arguments; what are yours?