…Without Making Things Worse.
One of the biggest pitfalls in any relationship is getting caught in the trap of needing to be right. Inevitably the two (or more) people in the relationship come across things they disagree on; stumbling blocks that put the relationship in jeopardy. If you don’t know how to communicate when you come across these blocks, or if you find yourself not understanding each other, you end up with a mess. You two might start resenting each other, or you might start arguing even more. And if you’re already struggling with disagreements, fighting more could be the final nail in the coffin. Avoid this weird, complicated process by taking care of yourself and your partner, and making sure you two are on the same page.
Utilize “I feel” Statements
If you speak from a place of personal experience, there’s less of a chance for someone’s defense mechanisms to come into play. Many times in arguments and disagreements it’s these defense mechanisms that cause the most harm. People get angry, sad, and they no longer think clearly. By making sure you’re talking about your experience and what you feel, you’ll avoid blaming the other person and making them get defensive. This is important in being able to talk about the argument instead of furthering the argument.
Leave the Blame Behind
There’s nothing more damaging in a relationship than blaming each other. When we blame someone we shift the responsibility off ourselves and onto someone else. Oftentimes this means that we aren’t accepting to criticism from the person we’re putting the blame on. This puts the argument in a stalemate. No one is able to move past the things that have been said, and nothing gets resolved. Keep blame out of your discussions and be receptive to people pointing out your faults. You’ll get further in your conversation, and reach an agreement sooner.
This goes without saying, but it’s always nice to have a reminder. Stay calm in your discussions and keep your voice level. Raised voices raise anxiety, and angry tones breed more anger. Stay calm and collected and you’ll reach a rational conclusion faster than yelling it out.
When we get angry or anxious our breathing tends to get faster and more shallow. This physiological change puts our bodies into a cycle where we get more angry or anxious as our breath gets more and more constricted. By keeping your breathing steady and regular you can control your anxieties and anger more easily. You’re also able to think more clearly, as your body won’t be struggling for oxygen. This makes discussion and reconciliation easier, making the process of working through an argument go much quicker.
Understand Your Partner’s Communication Style
Some people need to talk it all out before they’re receptive to new ideas. Some people need to consider all the sides of an argument before forming an opinion. Others want to come up with action plans and preventative measures, and some people just want to be comforted and reassured. Know how your partner prefers to communicate and you’ll be less likely to fall into the miscommunication trap. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification on their ideas, and encourage them to ask questions too. Clarity is always worthwhile.
Know When to Take (and Give) Space
Just because you’re together doesn’t mean you need to be together all the time. Knowing when to take space for yourself to think, and knowing when to give your partner space to think and decompress is valuable. It will let both you and your partner calm down, and will keep you two from making any rash statements.
Let Yourself be Wrong
You don’t always need to be right. Letting go of the need to be the one in the right allows you to be more receptive to opinions and discussion; this way you know when you are actually right, and when you’re in the wrong. A relationship needs this sort of openness, which suddenly gets much easier when you let go of needing to be right.
This should go without saying, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t take this advice. Listen just as much as you talk, if not more. A lot of hard feelings can be avoided by just listening to each other, as a lot of times that’s all it takes to show someone we care.
Trust that you and your partner will make it through no matter what. Even if you two are arguing now, it won’t last for long. As long as you two know how to forgive, that is. Talking it out, calming down, and coming to a logical and rational conclusion are the only ways you can really forgive each other. That, and reminding yourselves of all the love you have.