How To Effectively Manage Arguments In Any Relationship

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Counselling Psychologist - M.Sc. Clinical Psychology

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Counselling Psychologist - Ph.D. Relationship Psychology

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It may sound counterintuitive, but a happy relationship isn’t necessarily one that’s totally conflict-free. In healthy relationships, both the romantic kind and platonic connections with friends or family members, people approach conflict as a catalyst for positive change, rather than something to avoid. Conflict is an opportunity for two people to actually grow and understand themselves better. When you enter into a long-term partnership with someone, you have to accept that the two of you have different life histories, family backgrounds, and value systems, all of which can lead to different opinions. These differences can cause relationship arguing, which isn’t necessarily negative. For the success of your partnership, it is critical to learn how to handle arguments in a relationship so that disagreements don’t lead to the breakdown of the relationship. Arguments in relationships can become unhealthy when you are constantly arguing over trivial matters. This signals that you are picking small fights because of an underlying issue in your relationship.

Some causes of arguing over small things can include:

  • Having too high of expectations for each other
  • Being intolerant of each other
  • Having a tendency to take out frustrations on your partner
  • One partner is taking on too many household responsibilities
  • Lashing out because of stress at work or in another area of life

Small arguments often signal that you are trying to distract yourself from another issue, such as the fact that one of you is overwhelmed or that you are simply not communicating well. If this is the case, some of the best relationship argument advice will tell you to try to focus on the underlying issue rather than continuing to pick fights over small matters. 

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Start With Respect

Approach your partner (or whomever you’re arguing with) with respect. We all have different life experiences that color what is upsetting to us and what types of arguments make us feel uncomfortable. Setting boundaries such as agreeing to avoid using toxic language, like name-calling can be helpful in terms of having more productive arguments because it makes the exchange more likely to stay positive. It’s also a way to show respect to the other person even while disagreeing with them. But be flexible. Recognize that it’s hard to be a perfect communicator when you get emotional.

Come With an Open Mind Don’t judge the argument before it has even started. That means setting aside your ego and what you think is right and true. Really listen to your partner when they come to you with a problem or a complaint. This is because both partners can have different yet meaningful viewpoints. It is essential to be open-minded while you listen to the other person’s perspective or how they have perceived the situation.

Don’t argue when you’re in a bad mood

Sometimes the phrase “Never go to bed angry” isn’t the best relationship argument advice. If you try to handle a conflict when you’re in a bad mood, you’re more likely to say something you don’t mean, which only escalates the conflict further. Cool off until you’re able to have a rational discussion. 

Call a timeout if you or your partner needs one in an argument. 
Request for a timeout if both people are too invested in the argument and it is escalating more and more, you can frame this timeout in a way that doesn’t make your partner feel like you’re simply walking away. “Perhaps somebody says, ‘Okay, I want to have this conversation. I need like 10 minutes to calm down. I love you, I’m not going anywhere,’” can help calm the situation down a little bit instead of reacting and escalating the scenario. ‘We’re going to come back to this, we’re going to figure it out.’ When returning to the discussion after the brief hiatus, both people will be in a better place to make real progress.

Have a conversation, rather than a fight

Conflict doesn’t have to involve a fight. Instead of having a full-blown fight every time you disagree with your partner, commit to sitting down and having a rational conversation about the issue. Take time to listen to their perspective and ask them to do the same for you, as listening and understanding is the key.

Recognize Underlying Pain Points

If you keep getting in the same fight over and over again, take some time to think about why is this happening again and again. Ask yourself: “What is happening for me? What is happening for the other person?”

Even long term partners are often repeating a particular fight because of a past pain (like from something in childhood). That doesn’t mean those feelings aren’t valid or that your partner shouldn’t try to avoid something that triggers that pain for you. But, recognizing when the fight isn’t really about what your partner is doing can make those conflicts less emotionally fraught, which in turn makes you more likely to reach a resolution.

Remember You’re on the Same Team

It’s why you’re having an argument with the other person in the first place (as opposed to ignoring the problem). So don’t assume bad intentions. In a heated moment, it’s easy to let feelings of resentment get the best of you. Remember that you love your partner to prevent an argument from damaging the relationship.  Even when in an argument, do not forget that both individuals are on the same team and are keen to resolve the issue so as to enhance the longevity of the relationship. 

Accept that your partner will never be perfect

Just as you can never expect yourself to be perfect, you cannot expect that your partner will be perfect at all times. We all have flaws, and when you recognize that you cannot change all of your partner’s little imperfections, you will stop arguing about them. 

Decide what quirks you can accept, and stop trying to change them. 
Make requests instead of complaints

Fights often start with the same two words: “You always.” Rather than asking your partner to do something we’d like them to do, like cleaning up around the house, we jump to make accusations. You’re not getting what you want, because of how you’re asking for it. It’s easier for people to ask their partner why they never do something than it is to simply request that they do it.

Saying, “I’m not feeling great. I’m stressed about the way the house looks. Would you mind picking some stuff up?” is more direct and respectful than putting your loved one down for his or her failure to meet your needs. It’s also more likely to result in your partner completing the task.

Listen, and ask your partner for clarification

When the time comes to sit down and talk about solving conflicts, the most important thing couples can do is to listen — without interrupting.

This can be more challenging than it seems. If your loved one says he or she doesn’t feel heard, for example, you should listen until your partner is finished speaking. Then, ask for clarification if there is something you don’t quite understand.

Making sure you’re holding eye contact and positioning your body toward your partner when he or she is speaking will also signal that you are listening. These small adjustments can prevent countless fights down the road.

And of course, during any fight, insults and character assassinations should be avoided at all costs. Once it gets to the point where there’s name-calling and things like that, the discussion should stop. It’s not going to go anywhere. Couples can come back to the conversation when both parties have had time to cool down.

Share Your Feelings

In other words, don’t just say, “You didn’t clean up the dishes,”. Instead, begin with what you’re feeling. For example, try sharing: “Seeing dirty dishes in the sink makes me feel like you don’t care.”
Keep the facts as objective as possible. And follow that up with what you need or how you would like the other person to resolve the problem. Try: “It would make me feel a lot better if you put the dishes in the dishwasher before bed.”

Learn the right way to apologize to your partner 

Just as people have different love languages, we have different apology languages, too. It’s not enough to recognize that you’ve hurt your loved one and you owe them an apology: You have to know them enough to tailor your apology to their needs.

Some people wish to have big gestures whereas some people want, ‘I’m really sorry I hurt your feelings, and I will take steps not to do that again,’. The process is figuring out what’s meaningful for your partner.

Even the healthiest of partnerships will sometimes involve conflict. No, two people will see things exactly the same way at all times, so arguments in relationships are expected. They are an opportunity to grow closer together and better understand each other.

That being said, knowing how to handle arguments in a relationship is critical. Suppose you argue in an unhealthy or unfair fashion by criticizing your partner, becoming defensive, or shutting down emotionally. In that case, relationship conflict can become so harmful that it leads to relationship breakdown

On the other hand, learning how to resolve an argument with your partner through healthy, productive means can improve communication and increase relationship satisfaction. Suppose relationship argument tips have not helped you to resolve frequent arguments in your relationship. In that case, you and your partner may benefit from seeking couples counseling, where you can learn healthy communication and conflict resolution styles. 

Ms. Priyanka Walia
Ms. Priyanka Walia M.A. Counselling Psychology Counselling Psychologist 05 years of experience

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Ms. Muskan Maheshwari
Ms. Muskan Maheshwari M.Sc. Clinical Psychology Clinical Psychologist 02 years of experience

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Mr. Nishant Sharma
Mr. Nishant Sharma M.Phil. Clinical Psychology Clinical Psychologist 07 years of experience

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Ms. Akshita Bakshi
Ms. Akshita Bakshi Ph.D. Relationship Psychology Counselling Psychologist 05 years of experience

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