There Is Actually A Healthy Way To Argue, Who Knew?!
You mean slamming the door and screaming "I've always hated you" isn't good enough?
Are you a stomper or a silent-treater? Are you more of a door slammer or do you walk out? Can you simmer over a slight for weeks or do you demand a resolution to a fight as soon as?
We're talking about arguing here, folks. And whether you know it or not, there actually are good ways to fight with your significant other -- and they can actually help you not split up, too!
Bonus (unless you can't stand them, of course)!
According to Clinton Power, relationship therapist at Clinton Power & Associates, the goal of having a healthy argument is not to eliminate conflict altogether, "but to repair effectively after conflict occurs."
Yep, you see, many of us don't argue healthily at all. That screaming, accusing and stomping ain't doing you any favours...
"We just don't have any education or training about how to communicate healthily, no-one gets an owner's manual on how to do relationships effectively," agreed Power, "and if you look at the political landscape at the moment, every day we're saturated with these kind of toxic arguments too -- people start to think it's the norm to blame or attack or deflect and not take responsibility. It's hard, we don't have many role models for healthy communication."
So who are the bad arguers? What are we -- we mean, they -- doing wrong?
"We know from research by (marriage therapists) John and Julie Gottman that there are four behaviours that can be toxic when you argue," said Power.
"The first one is criticism -- when you're personally attacking or blaming your partner in some way," he says. With the criticism goes defensiveness as well --if you feel under attack you will often defend so they go hand in hand.
"Stonewalling is the third behaviour -- that's shutting down, the silent treatment. Not looking at someone, and not responding."
According to Power, the most destructive behaviour is contempt -- talking down to you partner and using sarcasm, for example. If any of those four things are showing up in an argument, it can be a sign that it's not heading in a healthy direction.
So on to how to do it healthily. You can ditch those four things for starters. And while you're at it, bloody listen, okay? It may stop the fights in their tracks (and let's be honest, no one REALLY likes a fight, right?)
"People need to look at the way they're communicating," Powers told 10 daily.
"They can get into patterns where they're not really present or they're not facing each other or they're talking across a room and those types of communicating can lead to misunderstandings.
One of the things I encourage couples to do if you have important information to relay, is get in close proximity to your partner, look them in the eye, don't have any distractions and pay attention as you're communicate. It can help get the message to sink in."
Got that darling?
The good news is, Power says healthy fighting can be learnt by anyone. All you need to do is follow some simple rules (and ditch the four no-gos):
- Don’t use provocative language like swearing or hurtful words and don’t blame your partner.
- Don’t yell or use physical force, including breaking things or punching the wall.
- Don’t talk about separating or threaten to leave -- this is very scary for most people.
- Don’t bring up the past. Stick to the topic at hand and work on one issue at a time.
- Don’t engage in conflict when you’re tired, you’re driving, you’ve been drinking, in public, or in front of the kids.
Instead, try to:
- Reframe and restate your partner’s statements so that everyone is clear on what is being communicated. Focus on understanding.
- Ask for specific things that will help you feel better.
- Respond to requests with good will. Take turns speaking. Validate what you hear.
- End the conflict when necessary and return to the issue later.
- Maintain respectful confidentiality. Be empathetic.
- Take responsibility for how you express yourself.
Feature Image: Getty.