Can Arguing Help a Relationship?

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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 brought 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 as 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.

By adjusting some of our words and using specific 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 learnt 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 8 magic words and phrases that can save an argument:

  1. I’m Sorry

Saying sorry to our partner can alleviate many feelings of anger. It does not mean you are apologising for anything you have done however the word Sorry has a profound effect on us. We may mean we are sorry they feel that way, or sorry something occurred, even sorry they may not understand your point of view. Sorry is powerful, use it wisely.

  1. I understand

I understand demonstrates you are attempting to acknowledge their perspective

One of the biggest issues a partner can have is the feeling of not being heard or understood. We often feel if we are listened to, our partner will get what it is we are saying. It is vital we do our best to understand what it is our partner feels, even though at times they may not understand it themselves.

Our feelings and emotions are so personal and important to us if we are dismissed it cuts very deep. We all need to be heard and hopefully understood by the one person we have chosen to share our life and dreams with.

  1. You are correct

Whenever we feel or are told, we are correct, this validates us. It gives the person a compliment. While your partner may say you are correct they may not necessarily accept they are wrong, just you are correct. It sometimes doesn’t matter what they mean we are correct about, as long as we hear we are correct we are often happy.

  1. 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. We are agreeing with them that they feel the way they do, not necessarily accepting any responsibility for their feelings, simply echoing their belief system.

It is a good idea to listen to our partner so we can discover the reason why they may feel the way they do and this aids us to develop an understanding of them. It also demonstrates a willingness to be open and not shut off or narrow-minded.

  1. I’m wrong

Saying I’m wrong shows the other person you accept your mistake. When the other person starts to challenge us, admit we may be wrong, this justifies their opinion and means they feel they are correct. While you are not actually saying to your partner they are right you can admit you may be wrong in one thing or another. This quickly alleviates any escalation of conflict.

  1. Yes

The word yes can quickly alleviate anger. When we hear Yes, we stop to process what it is we are correct about. Yes is a word that alleviates much anger. When we hear yes our defences are lowered, we become calmer and are able to process more logically than when we are highly emotional. Yes appeases us.

  1. I’m listening

When we say the words ‘I’m listening’ this enable our partner to feel we are interested in what they are saying and feeling. We often do not even need to say much, just listen to them. Once they have felt heard you can ask some questions to ensure you have understood them.

  1. Thank you

Saying thank you to our partner after they have said or yelled something at us allows them to stop to hear what it is you are thanking them for. Thank you for making it clear that you feel that way or thank you for allowing me to understand what you want. Thank you always appeases us and can reduce feelings of anger.

Get your copy of Dr Karen’s book ‘OMG We’re Getting Married – 7 essential things to know before we say I do’ Written for all couples about to, or recently, married or in a defacto relationship. For a limited time get your FREE copy now.

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