31 Dec Marriage, communication, and arguments (part 2)

Arguments are positive for relationships.

young couple photo

It’s how we argue that counts. Marriages and relationships get stronger when the people in them know how to “argue” well.

For partners wondering how to argue in constructive way, I’ve complied 7 basic rules that are a great place to start. You’ll find the first three in last weeks blog, and the following four below:

Rule # 4: Don’t interrupt each other.

That’s right: don’t interrupt each other. And don’t use critical language, don’t be defensive or blaming, don’t speak down to your partner, don’t shout or swear… And if you can’t manage this, go to Rule # 5.

Rule # 5: Know when you need time out.

Emotional flooding is a normal physiological response to stressful situations, but that doesn’t mean it’s helpful. If you notice that your voice has changed pitch, you breathing is rapid and shallow, your body is trembling, you’re having trouble maintaining eye contact or sitting still, or you’re retreating “inside” of yourself and no longer present, it’s time for “time out”.

Rule # 6: Paraphrase and “feed back” what you hear your partner saying.

A good conversation is one where there’s a constant “back and forth” between participants. If you don’t fully understand what you’re hearing, ask for clarification, and keep feeding it back until your partner can say “Yes! You are understanding me completely”. Likewise, make sure your partner is understanding what you’re saying, by requesting that she/he feed back to you.

You’ll be amazed how much valuable information gets glossed over, misinterpreted, or completely ignored – and how much more productive a conversation can be if it’s not allowed to be sabotaged by messages that go off track.

Rule # 7: Don’t be stubborn.

Sometimes finding a resolution to an issue is difficult or impossible. If compromise (on one or both sides) doesn’t help solve the issue, it’s OK to “agree to disagree”. Partners don’t have to see things the same way in order to be happy. They just need to know how to express themselves, be heard, be collaborative, give (in order to receive), and “choose their battles” wisely.

Already doing all 7?

Well done! You’re well on the way to building a marriage or relationship that handles differences and issues really well. And no doubt you both already know this!

Not doing so well?

Contact me and let’s talk about how to get you and your partner “arguing” better. It’s essential work for all couples who really want a marriage or relationship that thrives.