Wednesday, 4 September 2013

How To Handle an Argument in a Relationship

All couples argue. It's only natural. 

Once the honeymoon period is over in a relationship or you move in together then that is when conflict can creep in. Just don't worry about it. If your best friend tells you she and her partner don't argue then she is a total liar- it happens but we have to learn how to deal with arguments when they do arise. Healthy conflicts are very much part of a healthy relationship.

However, many of us refuse to engage in healthy arguments, insisting instead that we are right and the other person is wrong in the strongest possible terms. This type of black-and-white view must be avoided in order to maintain a healthy and stable relationship.

It is important to understand why couples keep fighting. 

For some fighting is a fire that keeps their relationships alive. It lets them know the other cares, things aren't really over and sparks still fly between them. Fighting can keep these couples bonded but I personally think these kind of relationships are just too much hard work. Who the hell wants to fight with their partner all the time?

Some couples love power struggles. They love winning and feeling power over the other. This makes them feel strong. Fighting can easily become a habit, something individuals fall into automatically and instinctively. Needless to say, fighting prevents real communication from developing. It is a way of threatening or blaming the other. Rather than really addressing issues, it causes a situation to remain stuck.

As I mentioned, arguing with your partner is natural but there are ways of dealing with spats. 

The first step in handling conflict is knowing what your buttons are and those of your spouse or partner. Most people will have conflict in one of three big areas, finances, sex, and raising kids. When these important topics come up (and they inevitably will) it is important that both of you be aware that this area has a long history of causing arguments in the relationship and begin the discussion with the resolve to try and see the other persons' point of view and present your own in a logical manner.

When conflict arises then try to avoid ignoring the other persons' point of view. Do not take the stance of 'I know best'. Try to demonstrate why it is you think what you are stating and listen carefully when your partner offers a rebuttal. Demonstrate that you have listened to what they have to say by repeating some of their statement.

Try to stay on topic- that is, discussing the immediate problem- as much as possible. Try not to make blanket statements such as 'You always do this' or other harmful sayings. Also, do not descend into name calling. Even using strong language in the form of swear words will tend to cause the other person to shut  out any message you are trying to send. Plus it's very hurtful and things can be said in the heat of the moment that you really don't mean.

Avoid any physical forms of intimidation as people are naturally inclined to become defensive in such scenarios. This is particularly hard for men who may not realise that what they think may be just venting their frustration (ie slamming a hand on a table) is actually very intimidating to their partner.

If the argument is really spiralling out of control then it is very important to have the strength to walk away for a cool down period- odds are you are way off topic anyway by that point and nothing at all will be resolved.

The final outcome in a conflict within a relationship should be that you and your partner make up and agree on a solution. The problem must be solved within a reasonable time, the best is before the day is out. Try not to go to bed on an argument. Letting problems fester is the worst possible route to take and the argument will inevitably occur again in the future.

Finally, be prepared to say you are sorry as it will show that you care more about the relationship than the issue.