As much as we’d love for our relationship to always be completely copacetic and devoid of any disagreements, with the way life is and stuff it throws at us we can sometimes feel like we’re stuck recreating John Legends’s ordinary people. Arguments to a certain extent are normal and it’s unrealistic to believe you and your partner are never going to argue.
Sometimes people have bad days and small trivial things that you would normally ignore trigger you and sometimes major, potentially relationship ending issues arise and have to be discussed.
Truthfully, no matter how much you’re in love and how compatible you are with someone, there’s always going to be a certain level (potentially minute) level of friction in your relationship. As someone whose largely unconfrontational and hates to argue with anyone I’m close with, I struggle to have effective arguments in my relationship. Consequently, I would avoid the issues, supress my feelings and typically blow up later. My exposure to therapy and chain analysis of prompting events to reactions, mean I understand how detrimental avoiding arguments is to me and counterproductive to the fruition of my relationship
Tips For Arguing
Understand & Emphasise – The most important thing I learnt whilst undergoing interpersonal effectiveness therapy modules, is the power of listening, understanding and validating. As an individual you’re allowed to simultaneously hold your own personal feelings, whilst understanding how and why your partner feels different to the way you feel. Dismissing your partners feelings and argument is just going to prolong and intensify the argument, increasing everyone’s frustrations.
Prioritise – Do you want to be right, do you want to win or do you want to stay together. We are sometimes so convinced of how right we think we are, that our pride and thus desire to win the argument means that respect for the person’s feelings and the true objective of the argument disappears. In an argument, there’s not supposed to be any winners, just a conclusion; the point of an argument, is to fix an issue not to gain a metaphorical upper hand. This doesn’t necessarily mean sugar coat, pussyfoot around the issue or pander to your partners, if they’re inform them but no prioritising being the smartest person in the room.
Apologise if you need to apologise – There’s been times when I’ve been mid argument with my partner and I’ve realised I’m actually wrong, but contemplated still arguing/ winning the argument because I don’t want to admit I was wrong. Apologising is admitting your role and accepting responsibility in the argument, that doesn’t mean you’re a bad person.
Throw out the broken record – Don’t bring up the past! In an argument, you are allowed to reference the past to make a point but to consciously bring up previous arguments to prove a point is toxic and exhausting for everyone involved. So many times, we forgive without forgetting – if you decide to forgive a previous indiscretion, you need to truly forgive and not continuously bring it up to justify new arguments. It’s projecting and it’s a sign you may not be over the issue and potentially may never fully get over the issue. Frequent arguments means you may be struggling with the dissonance between wanting to stay because you love them but being hurt and still resentful
Don’t resort to insults – This goes without saying but sometimes when tempers flare and intoxicants are involved, the temptation to go full Trina “Here we go again” and call your partner out their name is real. Saying things to hurt your partner because they hurt you isn’t conducive to the argument or your relationship. If you’re trading insults back and forth and saying things you can’t take back, you should just break up.
Take a breath – This is another tip I learnt from therapy and mindfulness. It seems obvious but taking a step to breathe and acknowledge what you’re about to say and what has been said, can prevent arguments from escalating. I tend to leave space between the triggering event (i.e. my boyfriend annoying me) and the argument because I know immediately afterwards, I’m heated and frustrated and therefore likely to say wayward and potentially wild things. Leaving some time, even if it’s just 5 minutes to take the edge off and reduce the intensity, means you’re still able to get your feelings across without doing permanent damage.
Resist the urge to go “Goonica” – The part of you that wants to conjure Jazmine Sullivan circa 2010 and “smash the windows out [their] car” has got to go. It’s 2021, we are in jobs that require CRB & DBS checks. We can’t endanger our careers because we decided to slash tires, key cars, bleach clothes or throw their PlayStation into the bath. Social media has glamorised toxic relationships (i.e. criminal damage and assault) but it’s unrealistic, unhelpful and unproductive. At best you hurt your partner, at worst you’re arrested and your career is forever affected.
I'd rather fight with you, than make love to somebody else - Neyo