If you have lots of arguments, does that mean your relationship has problems? Not necessarily – in fact the opposite may be the case. It all depends what you mean by arguing. Here’s how to do it constructively.
We look at:
- What an argument actually is
- What’s good about arguing
- What you should never do when arguing
WHAT IS AN ARGUMENT?
Put simply, an argument is an exchange of views. It may be animated – it could even be angry. But a proper argument, as opposed to a row, does not involve shouting and insults. Truly, an argument is a natural thing, especially between two people who are close. No couple is in total harmony all the time, and there are many ways in which an argument can be helpful, as long as you do it properly.
WHAT’S GOOD ABOUT ARGUING
Being able to argue energetically with someone can show you feel safe with them. Hopefully you know they won’t leave you or hit you. The relationship is important enough to them for them to want to get their point over. One thing you can be sure of – your partner isn’t indifferent to your views and wishes.
A good argument can clarify matters and let you know some things about your partner and their attitudes. If you argue ‘properly’ you can often reach some understanding, or at least compromise, that will take you both forwards. This is much better than festering resentment, which can build when you’re unhappy, but do not argue, for whatever reason.
WHAT YOU SHOULD NOT DO DURING AN ARGUMENT
There are several ways an argument can degenerate into a horrible fight. These are the things you should avoid:
- Never, ever, call your partner names, insult them or try to put them down
- Do not storm off – only leave if your partner is shouting or swearing and won’t stop
- Needless to say, never get physical
When feelings run high it can be hard to stick to these rules, but they are important if your argument is not to leave you more frustrated than you were before it.
TRY TO BE CLEAR ABOUT THE ISSUES
All too often, when people argue, they lose the plot. They get irritated and confused and just want to be ‘right’. The argument can turn out to be less about the issues than about someone trying to be ‘top dog’. That’s a recipe for conflict and discontentment.
When feelings run high it’s hard to keep to the subject, but take a deep breath, step back and ask yourself what you’re really arguing about. It may sound contrived, but clarifying this with your partner will help. This is like agreeing on the rules when you play a game of tennis. It also means you have some hope of settling something.
For instance, if your partner has booked a holiday without discussing it with you, you might be angry at not being consulted, but quite happy with the actual arrangements. If the argument spins out you could end up with no holiday, and that would be silly. Far better to seek your partner’s agreement that next time they will ask you first, and then settle to look forward to your time away.
KEEP TO THE POINT
Most of us have had the experience of starting an argument about one issue only to have umpteen others trawled in. Your ‘argument’ can so easily turn into a list of complaints or a thorough slanging match, with both of you ending up hurt and offended, having sown the seeds of many more rows to come.
If your argument is to lead anywhere sensible it should stay with the matter in hand. Never mind what your partner did last year, what his or her mother said or the fact they forgot your birthday.
The truth of the matter is that with many ‘arguments’ the ‘point’ is actually about something underlying the relationship. For instance, arguing about who does the dishes could truly be about division of labour in the partnership, who does more, who may be being lazy etc. A little wisdom and self-awareness are needed.
MAKE UP AND LET IT GO
When the argument is over, don’t sulk. Remember how much the relationship means to you and all the lovely qualities your partner possesses, even if you don’t agree with them all the time.
Kiss and make up, do something pleasant together and move on. In the end it’s your love that matters and life is too short to be always striving to be in the right.
HOW WE CAN HELP
We’ve examined several aspects to arguing, starting with what an ‘argument’ actually is, the good things about it, what you should never do, being clear, keeping to the point and making up and moving on. Constructive arguing isn’t easy and you may well keep slipping up and sliding back into ‘rowing’, but don’t despair. When you need help, our experienced Readers are just a call away so don’t hesitate to get in touch and feel better.
PUBLISHED: 13 June 2018