Most people in a relationship seem to argue, right? We seem to believe this is healthy, normal and everyone does. I wonder, is it really healthy to argue and what type of arguments are supposedly healthy and what are damaging?
If you are arguing and fighting a lot, does this mean your relationship is in trouble or destined to fail?
Some therapeutic models of counselling indicate it is healthy to argue; it allows both people to express their thoughts and feelings and be heard. Their theory also indicates an argument means you both care about your relationship.
Those indicating this may not yet understand the way two mature people can learn to communicate respectfully and learn the needed skills of listening, paraphrasing, understanding and curiosity.
Most couples that attend counselling do so due to their ongoing argument issues. The first thing we agree on is both people are different, both have been raised by a different family, have gone through different experiences and have personal points of view, some in agreement while others not so much.
Couples attend counselling because they are fed up with arguing, it gets them nowhere, resolves little and often causes offense.
What is an argument?
An argument is one person saying to their partner “I demand you to act, think, do, behave and have an opinion exactly like mine. If you don’t, then you are wrong and I am going to make sure you know how wrong you are and force you to change your opinion and mind”.
Sound familiar? This is the reason most arguments occur, however, when we look into this we discover we may not really want another mini-me. We fell in love with our partner because of the person they are, not because I want them to be exactly like me.
If we do want our partner to be like us or we want to mould them to be like us, then perhaps the relationship is predestined to dissolve. We fall in love with an individual for whom they are, not for what we expect or desire them to be.
Couples never need to argue or fight as this only results in relationship damage, things being said that can’t be unsaid, neither person listening or being heard, a shut down by both and distress within the connection. Often severe words said years earlier are bought up time again resulting in an escalation of emotions that should have been resolved. Left unresolved means, they will resurface.
By adjusting some of our words, we can reduce or alleviate many of the arguments in our relationship. We should not be arguing with the person we love and have chosen to spend the rest of our life with. The problem is we often have not learned how to manage our conversations.
When one person says something in anger or accuses us of something we automatically jump to the defence, and this leads to conflict.
The way for couples to start communicating like the mature, intelligent individuals they are, without school yard yelling or demeaning comments, include the use of a few words to lighten any conversation and allow the other person to feel heard and understood.
Tips to alleviate arguments:
- I’m Sorry – Saying sorry to our partner can alleviate many feelings of anger
- Help me understand – demonstrates you are attempting to acknowledge their perspective
- You may be correct – Whenever we feel, or are told, we are correct, this validates us
- You have every right to feel this way – When we validate our partner’s right to feel they way they do this confirms their feelings are understood and respected
- How can I help you feel better – checking in to understand your partner feels hurt and enquiring what they need from you always helps
- Yes – The word yes can quickly alleviate anger
- I’m listening – these words enable our partner to feel we are interested in what they are saying and feeling. Be sure to give them your full attention
- Dr Karen’s book OMG We’re Getting Married – 7 essential things to know before we say I do is for all couples about to, or recently, married or in a defacto relationship. For a limited time get your FREE copy now.
More information can be found at www.drkarenphillip.com