Tuesday, December 9, 2014

How To Resolve Arguments in Your Relationship

I have discovered a new trend I never thought existed. I had always thought couples accepted that arguments are key in relationships to help them develop mutual strategies to resolve conflict, however my recent surveys have shown that some couples do not believe there should be any room for arguments. In some cases, one partner believes arguments are part of everyday life while the other believes they create unnecessary friction and may hurt the good flow of the relationship. I was rather surprised to discover this; I thought every couple had their arguments, forgot about them and moved on. Turns out it's not as easy as it sounds. 

Some people are the best people to argue with; they end things with a joke, laugh at indirect insults and add a touch of sarcasm that sets everyone rolling on the floor with laughter. People like these may not take certain arguments seriously, and may even end up making a joke out of serious situations. On the other hand, some people like to win! They want to win every argument even if it is about whether omelettes taste good with sardines or not. These people are rather exhausting to be around, struggle to listen to other people, and always try to enforce their opinions on others. Doesn't sound like fun arguing with them does it? Having discovered these two extremes, I have come across a third set of people- those who argue fairly, like to talk things out, and are willing to let both parties agree to disagree. Of course everyone wants a partner like that! So back to the big question: how should you resolve arguments in your relationship?

My answer is that should depend on the nature of your partner. It is almost impossible to have a relationship without arguments but it can be done (that's a topic for another day). I often advice people to employ one of two strategies when they want to resolve arguments- understanding plus tolerance or understanding plus avoidance. I'm sure you're not battling to understand the first strategy but avoidance? huh? what's that about? 

Many people have the impression that they MUST discuss every single issue with their partner, get their point across and well-understood, and come to a mutual conclusion. That is not likely to happen in every situation, and before you know it, your relationship will be more like a marriage counselling session that just won't end even though you get the point. Avoidance is a skill, a strategy, a helpful tool everyone should learn if they intend to have relationships that will stand the test of time. I am not asking you to overlook major issues, but learn to overlook the small or inconsequential issues. Try to avoid beating the dead horses of events that cannot be reversed, the "I told you so" moments and the "you can't function without me" debates. Rather learn to recognize your partner's style of arguing and try to employ the right strategy to handle situations- avoidance or tolerance, but understanding should be  a key factor either way.

Arguments are inevitable; even though they tend to reduce in frequency and intensity over time, one cannot wish them away or expect them not to happen at all. Instead of hoping arguments won't occur, employ the right strategy to resolve every situation. As a matter of fact, silence (not the silent treatment) can sometimes be a resolution to a hurtful or inconsequential argument. Learn to understand your partner, try to listen more and talk less, and if you are the type that sulks when you're hurt, learn to express yourself calmly. Whatever the case, always argue fair, with respect, without the use of derogatory words and with the calmest tone you can muster. XOXO

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