Arguments are a normal part of many relationships and they can be useful in clearing the air and reinforcing closeness. It’s okay to disagree but it’s not okay to insult your partner, shout or use the argument as a platform to bring up everything you hate about your partner and the relationship. here are a few guidelines to improve your communication in your relationship:
Before you begin, ask yourself why you are upset
Are you angry because your partner left the lid off the toothpaste yet again or is your dissatisfaction more to do with feeling you do more of the housework? Often, the small stuff is a symptom of the ‘bigger stuff’. Look at the bigger picture. Try to pinpoint what it is that you are unhappy about.
Discuss one issue at a time
“You spend too much time at the office” can quickly lead to “You don’t care about our family”. Now there are two problems to discuss instead of one. When a discussion gets off topic it can son lead to a discussion about everything the other person does wrong. Stick to one issue at time with resolution in mind.
Don’t use degrading language
Discuss the issue without insults or blame. Don’t resort to put-downs, swearing or name calling. Degrading language is an attempt to express negative feelings while making sure your partner feels just as bad. This will lead to more character attacks while the original issue is forgotten.
Express your feelings with words and take responsibility for them
“I feel angry”. “I feel hurt when you ignore my calls” “I feel scared when you yell”. These are good examples of how to express yourself. Starting with “I” is a good technique and encourages the other person to listen.
Take turns talking
Be careful not to interrupt as tempting as it may be. If you find it hard not to interrupt, use a tennis ball, The person who is talking holds the ball and when they are finished they hand it over to the other person to respond. Really listen when your partner is talking, don;t use that time to focus on what you want to say back!
Sometimes, it is easier to run from conflict and retreat into your shell, refusing to speak. This refusal is known as stonewalling and it is very unhelpful. You might feel better in the short term but long term it will damage the relationship. The issue will remain unresolved and resentment will grow. If you absolutely cannot talk about it, schedule a time in the future to discuss things further when you feel ready.
This goes without saying. Yelling is aggressive behaviour and isn’t conducive to problem solving discussions.
Attempt to compromise or reach an understanding
There won’t always be a perfect resolution but do your best to create a win-win situation where you both get your needs met. Relationships require commitment and compromise.