Do feel like you butt heads with your partner more than you connect? Well, here’s some advice from family therapists and a mediator on how to argue without hurting your relationship:
- Don’t worry about being “fair.” Family therapist Dr. Jacob Spilman says that may seem counterintuitive – but what seems fair to you, may not seem fair to them. So, don’t try to guess what will make them happy. Instead, tell your partner what you need. And ask what will make them happy. So, if you want a “boys night out” with your buddies, don’t recommend she goes out for “girls night” to make up for it. Let her choose what she wants to do.
- Fight as a team. How can you be a team when you’re on opposing sides? Relationship expert Dean Haddock says disagreements are a great way to learn to work together. The key is to always put your partnership ahead of the problem. In other words, if you have trouble dividing up chores - try saying, “We could spend more time together this weekend if we got all the cleaning done Saturday morning.” So, it’s not about me or you, it’s about us.
- Watch your body language. Susan Quilliam is the author of Body Language Secrets. And she says we respond intuitively to body language. In fact, it can have more of an impact than the words we’re saying. So, you may be saying all the right things, but the argument can still escalate if you’re displaying negative, hostile body language. Things like crossing your arms, putting your hands on your hips, and jabbing your finger in their direction. Your best bet? Turn down the tension instantly by adopting a more open stance. Better yet, sit side by side on the couch and hold hands. That’ll calm your raging stress hormones and remind you that you’re together for a reason.
What do you do to keep your arguments from hurting your relationship? Share your tips with us!