Truth time: Arguing is just an UNHEALTHY way to express your opinion…
Most of the couples I see in my couples counseling practice in Tampa often have a confused look on their face when I tell them their arguing “will no longer be needed” in their relationship.
Majority of couples have been “arguing” for so long that can’t imagine what it would like just to stop cold turkey. The follow-up question I always get from couples is… “How are we suppose to solve anything if we don’t argue??”.
Of course the point is to solve your issues! It’s our human nature to have a difference of opinion with our spouse, but does that mean you have to yell at each other to have that difference of opinion heard? I don’t think so.
The truth is… the word “argue” just means a dysfunctional way to communicate your thoughts. It’s not constructive in anyway but over time we learn unhealthy communication skills with our partner to feel heard. We are taught at a very young age that the louder and more convicted we are in our points the more right we are. Right?? Wrong.
Unfortunately the opposite is true if you want to have a successful thriving relationship.
A well functioning relationship thrives off of compromise… not a dictatorship. And it’s not your responsibility to convince your partner of how right you are.
I always ask couples: “Do you want to be right, or do you want to be happy?”…
These are not necessarily the same thing.
Obviously every single couple has disagreements (we’re human) but how you choose to communicate your view point will not only determine the outcome of the disagreement but the overall succeed within your relationship!
Here’s 3 Quick Steps To Shift From Arguing to Discussing:
1.) The way you bring up a topic always sets the pace of the discussion. Be consciously aware of how you start a sentence with your loved one. If I started a discussion with “Hey, I want to talk about that stupid thing you did yesterday”… I’m pretty sure your partners defense mechanism will automatically go up and anything you have to say after that will be a lost cause. Trust me.
ALWAYS be soft in your approach when starting a conversation… “Hey, when you have a moment I’d like to talk about thing that happened yesterday”. I guarantee the outcome of your disagreement will greatly improve with this easy step.
2.) “I” Statements are your friend. The more we take responsibility for our OWN thoughts, feelings, and behaviors the more our partner is inclined to actually open their eats and listen to what you have to say. Our natural human instinct is to be defensive, it’s in our DNA!
Shift away from “You” statements are start using “I” statement. Here’s an example…. “You never listen to me” to “I felt unheard when you walked away”. You’re literally conveying the same feelings but the progression and outcome of the disagreement will be drastically different and save your relationship. Easily improve your connection with this step.
3.) Know when to walk away! Discussions rapidly grow to arguments (yelling, screaming, name calling…) when couples get too heated and don’t know how to control their emotions. Self-regulating your own emotions is the ONLY way to keep a cap on losing a gasket during a disagreement.
It’s not your partners responsibility to calm you down. It’s YOUR responsibility to control your own emotions.
The best way to do this is by having a plan in place waaaay before a disagreement ensues. This means being proactive about your relationship. If we know it’s inevitable to have disagreements with our spouse wouldn’t it be wise to be prepared? I think so.
Know YOUR physiological signs when you start to become overwhelmed with emotions. This often looks like shortness in breathe, increased heart beat, sweating, etc. These are reg flags to show you you’re becoming overwhelmed – which is bad. If you ignore these red flags and continue on with the disagreement it’s guaranteed that it will end in screaming match and be completely destructive.
Check-in with yourself and verbally let your partner know you start having these symptoms. You both need to agree upon a plan on what to do in the moment when one of you start experiencing these symptoms.
Remember… the point of having a discussion in the first place is to enhance your relationship and bring each other closer together…. NOT to destroy each other!
Just by making these 3 shifts your disagreements will quickly turn from all-out arguments to productive discussions in no time!