01 Sep 4 Strategies for Turning Destructive Arguments Around
All couples argue, but not all couples argue well.
Having a healthy discussion rather than a destructive argument takes skill. These 4 strategies make a hugely positive difference to couples ready to step away from destructive arguments and into healthier ways to discuss and resolve their issues.
1 Don’t be passive
Being passive by keeping quiet may help in the short term, but it’s not a long term strategy for partners who really want love that lasts, because it prevents true sharing of yourself with your partner and usually leads to built up resentment. Built up resentment then usually leads to sudden outbursts of emotion or to passive aggressive behaviours, or both.
2 Don’t be aggressive
Getting “on the front foot” by attacking, criticising, blaming, defending, or shutting down by either physically or emotionally “leaving” the interaction are all aggressive strategies that ruin relationships. It’s normal to become emotional, but learning how to handle even the most extreme emotions without becoming aggressive is a crucial skill for healthy relationships.
3 Find something to agree on
Give a little. If it’s possible to find something from your partner’s point of view that you can accept, put this on the table at the outset. It’s a great way to diffuse tension and communicate that you are being reasonable and responsible for your own share of the problem.
4 Speak for “self”
Avoid using “you” talk, and instead, speak using the pronoun “I”. Share your own thoughts, feelings, wants, and needs, rather than your opinions about what your partner thinks, feels, wants, or needs. If your issue is about something your partner did, use phrases such as “To me it seemed that….” Or “My feelings when that happened were….”.
Changing destructive habits of communication is essential for couples who want relationship success. Start with these four strategies and help each other as you create new healthier relationship habits.
Pamela Pannifex is the founder of Sunshine Holistic Counselling on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. She is a psychotherapist, couples therapist, and naturopath who has been helping people find solutions to personal and relationship problems for over 20 years. Contact Pamela here.