Everyone argues, but not everyone argues well. Getting better at arguing together can help you solve your problems before they get worse.
The good news is that you can learn skills to help you get through arguments in a way that supports your relationship.
There are three simple steps to arguing better:
The first step is to STOP. This means staying calm and listening. You can’t always control the way you feel, especially when an argument starts. But you can have some control over how you respond.
When you feel a conversation heating up, you can try some of these tips to help yourself say calm:
Do you find yourselves arguing about the same things over and over again?
Sometimes an argument isn’t about what it first seems. An argument about money, or who does what, or who looks after the children, is rarely just about that. Understanding the root of the argument can help you talk about the things that are important to you.
Have a look at this diagram which show the things people argue about the most, and some of the issues that might be causing those arguments.
The second step is to talk through what’s going on. To do that, we have to do two things:
You can help avoid arguments by using a soft ‘start up’
A harsh ‘start up’ is when you go straight in with a criticism or a mean comment. It can feel like an attack and may be met with a defensive response.
A soft ‘start up’ is a gentler way of bringing something up, that focuses on the issue at hand without blaming the other person. It might start with “I feel…”
Once you are able to stay calm and talk about it, you will be able to look for solutions you can both agree on.
This might be a good time to check in with your goals. Did you manage to set any? How are your getting on? Whether or not you set a goal, you might like to set a goal now.
You might set a goal to do with staying calm when you feel yourself getting upset in a disagreement with your partner. You can use some of the suggestions above.