Conflict is as much a part of relationships as finding her cousins a bit weird and her mum’s signature dish not all that amazing. It happens to everyone.
In fact some couples enjoy arguments so much they have the same ones over and over again. That said, it is possible to manage your way through altercations and have your relationships improved as a result.
Here are the four key points to remember.
Winning is overrated
You’re not playing sports here. If you feel the need to come out on top in arguments, you’re doing your relationship a disservice. No one is right all the time – not even you Einstein – and don’t buy into that bullshit of “I can’t let her walk all over me”.
Admitting she has a point is not a sign of weakness. It’s just the opposite.
Learn to recognize the warning signs that things are getting heated.
It may begin with you thinking with expletives, your volume may increase or you even start clenching your fists. Whatever your stress indicators may be, learn to see them as a sign that this conversation needs to be put on hold and resumed when your respective tempers are more stable.
You don’t want to say anything you can’t take back and there are some sentences that can’t be apologized for later.
Keep it specific
The words “always” and “never” are relationship poison. As in “you always” and “you never”. They’re like mixing scotch and tequila in that you will probably feel sorry in the morning.
Stick to the topic of your discussion – bills, lack of sex, lack of support – rather than your partner’s character.
Focus on a distinct action or behavior and how it makes you feel.
It may also be helpful to write these down beforehand so you can get back to the core issues if the discussion strays into other areas.
The three column strategy
When it comes to prioritizing what you want out of an argument, you got to realize that no one gets everything they require. If that’s what you want, you should have stayed single. Instead, divide a page into three sections labelled “what I must have”, “what I would like” and “what I can live without”. Get your partner to do the same thing. The idea is that each column has a similar amount of entries. If not, one of you or both is being unreasonable and the evidence is right there on the page. Using this is a base, you can then find mutual comprises while still respecting your respective non-negotiables.
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