All couples disagree and even argue at times. Continual fighting or ugly arguments that devolve into verbal or emotional abuse threaten a relationship, though. When I worked as a social worker, I worked with many people in relationships who were suffering due to constant arguing. What I learned was that differences of opinion don’t have to turn into a bitter fight. Choosing your battles wisely, practicing good listening skills, and utilizing good communication skills can greatly reduce the number of arguments you have with your partner.
Decide What Things Are Really Worth Fighting About
Sometimes you may disagree with your partner about really serious issues, such as things that affect the health and well-being of your children or decisions that will have a huge impact on your finances. While you may feel you must stand your ground on some very important issues, many disagreements or differences of opinion between partners concern much less serious matters. Be willing to give in on less important issues. Be willing to compromise.
Do You Want to Be Right or Do You Want to Be Married?
Consider what you really want. Well-known psychologist Dr. Phil McGraw points out that marriage shouldn’t be a competition. When you insist on winning an argument, generally that means your partner has to lose. Instead of a competition, marriage (or any relationship) should be a partnership. Value your relationship more than being right.
Be a Good Listener
When people argue, they are usually both trying to make themselves heard. They raise their voices, they interrupt each other, and do a lot more talking than listening. Of course, this only causes the argument to escalate. Give your partner time to talk and focus on really listening. Listening and understanding where she’s coming from doesn’t mean you agree with her. It just means you value her opinions and care about her feelings.
Sometimes couples disagree. While it makes sense to try to fight less, it’s probably not possible to avoid fighting at all times. When disagreements occur, fight fair. Dr. Phil McGraw recommends sticking to the issue at hand; don’t bring up past things your partner has done that annoy or upset you. Don’t blame or call names. Be nice.
Take a Time Out
Elly Prior, a professional counselor and author of “Your Relationship Matters,” recommends taking a time out if you or your partner get too upset or angry to talk calmly. You can return to the discussion later when you’ve calmed down and refocused yourselves on the issue at hand.
See a Marriage Counselor
If you can’t stop fighting with your partner, even after trying the above suggestions, consider seeing a marriage counselor. Marriage counselors specialize in helping couples resolve conflict and improve communication, and they don’t only see married couples, but unmarried partners, as well.