Conflict is inevitable. We may argue over something silly such as who should take the trash out, or something more serious like parenting differences. One thing is certain–arguments happen. It is normal for a marriage to have it’s share of conflict-the key is how we respond.
Everyone has an arguing style-you may avoid conflict, always need to be right, or even thrive on disagreements. Whatever your style is, it is helpful to have a productive argument. It is not helpful to have a long, drawn out yelling match. Remember these tips to help you fight the right way:
1) If you feel an argument brewing, take a time out before having a discussion about the issue. Instill a “cooling off” period of no more than a couple hours to get your thoughts together and decrease the immediate anger you might be feeling.
2) Avoid phrases like “you always…” and “you never…”. These words can make the other person defensive and are not conducive to a productive discussion.
3) Take some responsibility for the situation. It takes two to tango, or in this case, to disagree. Own up to your part of the problem.
4) Stay calm. It is easy to increase your volume as the heat gets turned up. Try to keep your tone level and your voice smooth. This will help the situation not escalate.
5) Don’t threaten or use ultimatums. This just leads to resentment and hurt feelings.
6) Speak from the heart. Be honest about your feelings and of course use those “I feel [insert emotion here]…” statements.
7) Listen to your partner. Really listen–don’t think about what you want to say next. Repeat and summarize what you heard as your partner’s main points. This will make your partner feel heard and respected.
If you find that you and your partner just can’t seem to resolve conflict, get professional help who can teach you the skills you need to fight fairly and make those arguments a positive experience.