How Not to Let Fights Ruin Your Relationship
He did what?! Serena couldn’t hide her anger when her husband bought a motorcycle without telling her, especially when they were both conscientiously saving for a big trip to the US, the summer after they first got married in 2010. She had already had a tough day at work and when arguing ensued, it ended in slamming doors and unresolved anger.
“It’s what happens in the heat of an argument,” she says. “It used to happen more often at the start of our marriage, but now we’ve both learned to take some time to cool off before bringing up the subject again and coming to a compromise we’re both happy with.”
Relationship experts say there are some negotiation techniques that will allow you to win an argument – win-win, that is, so that everybody is happy. Or at least, not fuming.
According to recent research posted on popular blog www.thestir.com, the biggest fights occur when you’re greeting or parting with a loved one. So that’s right when you’ve returned from the office or as soon as you leave for the gym, with a peak between 6 – 8 pm. So that’s one to keep an eye out for.
Little gestures also make a difference – from slight physical contact, such as touching the person’s arm as you’re making a point, to sitting so that you are at the same level so you “fight” as equals. And – surprise, surprise – listening is a big one.
“While my husband was telling me his side of the story, I was preparing what I wanted to say next, so our fight just seemed to go on forever,” recalls Serena.
Arguments can either destroy your relationship or be the contrast that helps you both gain clarity through kindness, compassion and openness, writes love expert Shasta Townsend at www.shastatownsend.com. She writes, “winning an argument can mean you both move forward together feeling stronger, more loved and more understood. The old paradigm of “winning” by triumphing over another is clearly not working and not conducive to a long-term loving, collaborative and supportive relationship. It is a great way to create bitterness, resentment and, of course, tension.”
Instead, she suggests the following in a blog post:
Be Right or Be Happy
Yes, it feels good to feel right. There was a part of me that wanted to tell my husband how annoying he was and feel right about my view or actions. Perhaps it is that part that seeks vindication or even vengeance, but I know that part is a voice of pain. Rather than feed that voice I chose to let it be and be happy rather than right. This means I had to not look for ways to make him wrong. I allow him his actions, views and response knowing that ALL is right and then I had to look for love.
Look for Love, Diffuse the Anger
It is simple, but powerful. When you are angry with someone all you can see are the things you don’t like and you keep rehashing all the stupid things he said to confirm in your mind that he is terrible. If you want to actually be with him, then you can allow the anger, but seek the love. For me, I take a deep breath and call on the feeling of appreciation. I look for something to remember about him and our life that I love. Remember all the times he brings you flowers. Remember how you love the look in his eyes when he smiles. Remember that he is a man who probably is trying his best and who loves you when you can be difficult too.
Be The Powerful Feminine
Let’s just admit it – there is a voice of rage that can arise in women when we are confronted by strong masculine energy. I notice it in myself that when I have an argument with my husband, there is a voice that says, “You can’t talk to me this way. No man is allowed to say that to me.” Strong feminine energy is fierce love, deep compassion and the revelation of truth.
Top 4 Tips to Diffuse Fights
We spoke to Jeyla Shikhlinskaya, a licensed family and relationship therapist at BlueSky Holistic Family Education & Consulting, for her expert advice:
1 Breathe Take a deep breath and create some emotional space between what you feel, what you think, what you believe and what you want to say. Let heated emotions tide over.
2 Take a break Never have a conversation you are not prepared to have - you will regret it. In an argument, we all say things we don’t mean - so it is always best to take a break.
3 Establish ground rules Take time to talk about what works and what doesn’t work for you - if you need time to cool down - do so with respect and consideration for your partner.
4 One thing at a time Having a constructive (versus a destructive) argument is a learned skill. It takes patience and time for both partners to seek a healthy resolution.