If you are in a relationship, odds are high you have had a disagreement, and most likely an argument. We live in a society filled with romantic movies and stereotypes that lead us to believe that happy couples don’t argue. This is a dangerous belief system when the reality
is that two different people, in a relationship together are bound to have differing opinions. The argument free stereotype is also misleading because two individuals who are able to disagree comfortably is actually healthy! If there was a fear of disagreements, someone in the relationship would need to hide or change their opinion… and isn’t being loved for who you are the most rewarding part of a relationship? Disagreements and all?
Arguing well is actually a skill that couples can improve upon, which means that it takes some practice and effort. When you hear married couple says the phrase “Marriage is hard work!” this is exactly what they are referring to. Learning how to disagree and argue with compassion and understanding is a skill that couples will work on their entire lives.
Unsure of what it means to argue well?
There are three forms of disagreements: fighting, bickering and discussing.
Fighting is usually defined by high, unmonitored emotions. You may envision a couple screaming at each other, slamming doors or sobbing uncontrollably. Emotions, when left unchecked, can lead to saying things or doing things that we most likely will regret the following day… especially if your emotional rage is directed towards someone you love deeply. It is that embarrassed feeling the morning after that you want to avoid by arguing well. If fighting breaks out, set aside some time to cool off. Remind yourself that you both are on the same team. You are both emotional because of the same thing, you care. Schedule a time the next day or in the morning to sit down and discuss the conflict, with open minds.
Bickering is a more passive form of fighting. Perhaps it is side comments that usually can be brushed off by your partner, but just like steam under a tea kettle… the lid is bound to blow. If you notice bickering in your relationship, it may be a symptom of an unresolved disagreement. Just like with fighting, set aside a time to discuss.
Discussing is really where the “arguing well” comes into play in your relationship. This is a space where you and your partner should feel comfortable expressing yourself freely. While discussing your disagreement, focus on using phrases like “it makes me feel like… when you …” as opposed to assuming your partner had poor intentions. Open your heart and mind and truly listen to your partner the same way you want them to listen to you. During these discussions it is important to let go of the pressure to walk away as the winner or as the one who is right. There is room for growth on both sides of the relationship, regardless of the conflict. It is important to realise that not all topics need to be agreed upon. There may be situations where the two of you have to agree to disagree in a respectful way. If you both have the same goal, to build your relationship and respect and love one another, it should be easier to work towards solutions.
Learning how to disagree can actually strengthen your relationship. Studies have shown that couples who know how to argue well have better relationships in the long run. With that said, if you are feeling overwhelmed by arguments and feel as though you need more guidance on how to argue well, a psychologist can be an impartial professional to help you through the process. If you would like to book in a time to speak to a psychologist call us on (02) 6262 6157 or book an appointment online.