Couples who are most successful have learned how to argue effectively. Believe it or not, arguing in a caring fashion is a skill. Arguing can easily get out of control. You need self-confidence to bring up a topic you’re concerned about, and you need self-confidence to argue in a way that leads to a win-win for both parties or a compromise that both of you can live with.
Speak up as soon as you feel a negative emotion such as anger or frustration. The longer you let your feelings simmer, the more likely you’ll allow this feeling to overflow instead of talking intelligently about the issue.
After you’ve told your partner what you’d like to see changed and why, listen closely to what your mate has to say. There are usually two sides to every story, so listen to their point of view. They may see something that you didn’t, and if you can understand where they’re coming from, it will be easier to figure out how to resolve the issue. And remember that your goal is to resolve the problem, not win the argument. Make sure both of you feel good about the outcome.
Stay with the topic under discussion. Unless it’s something that’s important to clarify the issue being discussed, don’t bring up something that happened in the past or how you were hurt in the past because it will only add negativity to the discussion, and this is the last thing you want. You want to keep the conversation as neutral and positive as possible, and dredging up the past puts the conversation in a downward path.
Intimidation is not allowed. No put-downs, verbal abuse, emotional abuse or physical should be used. Demeaning labels of the other person should not be said, such as selfish, a loser, insecure, defensive, a slob, or useless in bed. You’ll regret saying these words and the relationship may not be saved if you use words such as these.
Your body language needs to also be under control. If your arms are gesturing strongly, you’re screaming, and your eyes are spitting out negativity, you’ll be demonstrating what your emotions are. It’s better to talk as calmly as possible, repeat how you see the situation, and make suggestions to resolve the issue that you think are reasonable and are most likely to be accepted by your partner.
If the argument gets too heated, take a break. The best thing to do is to agree beforehand that either one of you can request to leave the room for a period of time to cool off. When you’re in the heat of an argument, your judgment can get clouded and it will be more difficult to see the best option for resolving the issue.
Also, if you feel you’ll say something you’ll later regret, taking a break is a good idea. This doesn’t mean you’re walking away from the problem. Arrange a time to come back together to resolve the issue when you’re both calmed down and thinking clearly.
Don’t apologize for starting an argument when you bring up an issue that needs to be resolved, but do apologize if you say something mean-spirited or unfair during the argument.
If you follow these tips, you’ll be able to have a fair and fruitful discussion about the issues that concern you without hurting your relationship. In fact, this may help you be closer than ever.