I’ve learned some of my best relationship lessons the hard way — from real (and sometimes taxing) experiences. It took a lot of trial and error to learn how to handle arguments in a healthy manner. Along with the patience of a great woman, I’ve discovered a few tips to help keep your relationship strong during the occasional conflict.
Touch During Arguments
Creating a physical connection is a tangible reminder of how you feel about each other. It can be difficult to think clearly in the heat of the moment, but remind yourself to be close and touch in some way. When I started holding hands with my girlfriend during arguments, we stayed calmer and it helped prevent things from getting out of hand.
How can you expect your partner to know what’s wrong if you haven’t told them? Sometimes we’re so emotionally stirred that we forget to communicate the actual issue at hand. Instead of just saying “I’m so mad right now!” get specific. Say “I’m upset because I feel you don’t respect my interests.” Be clear to avoid misunderstandings.
Keep Your Voices Down
I’ve had my fair share of shouting matches and it’s not the way to go. Once someone raises their voice, the situation escalates and before you know it you’ll both be screaming. If your partner is getting loud, remind them gently that you both should talk at a reasonable level.
Nothing good ever comes out of swearing during a fight. It only makes us more upset and defensive. In your head, a passionate sentence with a swear or two gets your point across clearly. In your partner’s head, it sounds hurtful and is an unexpected blow. You don’t need to cuss to make your feelings known.
Stick to the Topic at Hand
I used to break this rule often. If you’re fighting about a current subject, don’t bring up old issues. Don’t start ranting about her messy apartment or the time she forgot to pick you up from the airport. Those things have passed and you need to focus on one issue at a time – what’s going on right then.
Avoid Personal Attacks
How does it make you feel when someone insults you directly? You’re not adding any positive value to the argument and I can guarantee it’ll make things worse. Instead of using “you” as in “You never listen to me!” use the “I” pronoun. “I feel like you don’t understand what I’m trying to say.” It avoids putting direct pressure on the other person.
Apologize When You’re Wrong
This is the hardest part I’ve had to overcome and I’m glad I can finally do it. If you’re talking through an argument and you realize that you’re in the wrong, admit it quickly and apologize sincerely. Protecting your ego and being prideful will stop you from resolving fights and drag things out.