Every relationship involves disagreements, arguments, and some level of learning to communicate with another person. Not every disagreement evolves into an argument. But, if something does, there are ways to argue well. The way you choose to communicate during these more heated conversations can ultimately determine its outcome. The following are a few recommendations to argue well with your spouse:
Use “I” statements
This helps the person expressing themselves to take ownership over their feelings and reduce accusations. For example, “I feel like you don’t care about me” vs. “You don’t care about me”.
Avoid Generalizing Statements
Be specific about what is bothering you and avoid making generalizations about the person. This allows there to be clarity on what is prompting you to fight right now and avoids making generalizing statements, which are rarely 100% true and often trigger further fighting. For example, “I am annoyed that you didn’t take out the trash yesterday” vs. “You never remember to take out the trash”.
Step Away As Needed
If you need a break from an argument, take it. Sometimes in the heat of the moment, you can get so worked up that you may say things you wind up regretting. Just make sure you communicate to your spouse why you are leaving the conversation and that you will come back in a moment once you collect yourself.
When you are upset, your body goes into “fight or flight” response mode, meaning that your nervous system goes into overdrive and less blood and oxygen go to your brain. This leads to you not thinking as clearly in the heat of the moment. By taking a breath, you are bringing oxygen to your brain, calming down your body, and literally helping your brain to get the energy it needs to think more clearly.
Following these 4 steps is a great place to start improving the way you argue with your partner. Arguments with loved ones are inevitable, but the way you argue doesn’t have to be!