Why do so many people lean into arguing?
Is there some way we can handle this part of the relationship better?
The thing is, arguing is inevitable in every relationship.
According to Dr. John Gottman, his research has shown that arguing and specifically the way you and your spouse argue determines the outcome of your marriage. The way you two argue will tell if your relationship will stand the test of time or succumb to the inevitable statistics and end in divorce.
I want to give you the secrets that are working in my life. The secret is, it is not what you say so much as how you say what you are bringing to the forefront of the relationship. Being able to fully express yourself in a tone that does not convey arger, frustration or fatigue means your spouse can hear you and what you are saying versus feeling as though they are being attacked. This is a learned practice. One that has helped my marriage tremendously.
Are we 100% perfect? No, we are not perfect. However, we do not argue in the transitional sense. We do not call each other out of our names and there never are any threats of bodily harm or punching walls, or anything of that nature. We have a really great relationship in that aspect.
But are there disagreements? Yes.
Does he get on my nerves? Yes.
Do I get on his nerves? Yes.
We definitely have our disagreements in the moments where we have to basically take a step away, go back to the drawing board and be able to still say what we need to say respectfully.
So, how do you two stop arguing? Here are 10 of my best practices that I have learn to implement and are still working for me today:
- Change the way that you are showing up.
Yes, this is something you have to internalize and be intentional about doing. Arguments are no different. Being intentional about the way you are showing up will change the dynamics of how you deliver your message. It changes the dynamics of how your spouse receives the message.
If you are showing up differently, guess what? Your spouse will show up differently. You have to be the initiator and decide if you are going to handle this differently. You have control only over yourself. You do not have control over how he reacts. You do not have control about what he says or does, you only have control over you. Remember, no matter what he does; no matter how he shows up, you are going to be intentional and show up differently.
These are the things you need to reinforce to yourself before another argument happens because the thing is. . . A test will happen when you are arguing. When the argument is staring you in the face, that is when the test will occur. You need to start practicing before an argument happens in your romantic relationship. You can also take this into every relationship in your life so you change how you are showing up in all your relationships. When you do this your world changes, the people around you change and the people you attract will have a higher awareness level.
- Stop engaging in the argument.
In the heat of the moment, it is really hard to hold your tongue, especially if this is not a practice for you. It is all about being intentional. It is all about showing up and being better. All of that happens through practice. Do not engage in the argument no matter how much you want to give it to him. Do not engage!
You have to be the one to spot things. Another secret is, when you change your spouse will follow suit. Most people do not realize they are all over the place. If they are the one who is arguing, fussing, and fighting, their partner will do the same thing. Why would it be any different when you start showing up differently in this way? If you do not engage, guess what? Secret number two, the argument can be no more, because who is going to argue with themselves?
If you become quiet and look at your spouse or walk out of the room and leave the house, the argument is over, at least for the moment. When your partner realizes that you are no longer engaging, they have no choice but to do something different and the argument has stopped.
- Hold your tongue for the moment until you can figure out what it is that you want to convey in a respectful manner.
Holding your tongue prevents a lot of mean things from slipping out in the moment just to hurt your partner. There are a lot of mean things you can say to hit below the belt. Do not forget, your spouse, like yourself, can be mean, evil, devilish and can react in the same manner.
Your tongue can do damage or it can add greatness. So, why continue to damage the person you say you love? Why continue to damage the person you are sharing a bed with? Why continue to damage the person you are having sex with? None of these work in the long run.
- Ask some clarifying questions.
For instance, you were being blamed for something as simple as the TV volume being too loud. You turned down the volume, but it was not low enough for your spouse’s approval. Instead of engaging with them. Ask the question, is the TV still too loud? I am asking because I did decrease the volume. Would you like for me to lower the volume even more? Or maybe your spouse is pissed off because they cannot find their keys. Your spouse never takes responsibility for where he left his keys and constantly blames you for moving them.
He says, “You always do this. You always move my keys and I can never find them.” Instead of you going back and forth with your spouse, simply say, “Hey, the last time you had your keys was when you were in the bathroom? Have you checked there? The point is to decide not to engage in an ugly argument that will ruin your day or your mood. Instead, shift the conversation to make your partner stop and think so your spouse can take all of that negativity off of you and shift to somewhere else.
- No low blows or name calling.
Mean words can hurt something terrible. Did you know that you have to say seven positive things to kill one negative thing? Imagine all of the negativity that goes into arguing. Each time you two argue, you have to have seven positive interactions in order to wipe the slate clean. So, if you are arguing 2, 3, 5 times a week, multiply that by seven. Now you have to have up to 35 positive interactions to erase those five bad experiences. Why do that to yourself when you can just show up differently? Do not name call. Do not blame. Do not engage.
- Pause before you react.
Pause so you can think about what you want to say. You can also step back and watch your partner or maybe you need to look for an exit. But I want you to really pause and change your strategy because arguing, fussing and fighting. This is not serving you. It is not working for you. And your relationship no longer feels healthy.
Reacting to fast will draw you two apart from one another. The distance builds up in your relationship, due to you both not knowing how to communicate effectively. Holding your tongue and pausing to figure out what it is you would like to convey will ease the tension. You will also have a chance to create more positive moments in your relationship.
- Talk to each other, not at each other.
Don’t you hate when you are talking to someone, and they are talking at you, like you are a child or like you are somebody stupid? Most people have a tendency to do this in their relationship as well. Make it a point to speak to your partner like they are intelligent and are capable of understanding the words that are coming out your mouth.
Anytime someone is questioning your intelligence an issue or problem shows up. That is where the backlash comes from and the sharp tongue. Noone likes to be looked down upon nor feel like they are looked at a being stupid.
- Strengthen your tolerance for the things that push your buttons.
These are your triggers. Using all the tips that I mentioned earlier, you will be able to strengthen these areas whenever those triggers occur. You will be able to intentionally slow down. Maybe you started to hold your tongue and then you just could not take another minute of being accused of something you did not do. . . you did just a bit better than you usually do. That’s progress!
Do not beat yourself up for the progress because if you have been doing a specific habit or behaviour for a long period of time, and in some cases, years, even decades, it is going to take you a long time to break that habit or behavior. But if you notice, each time you now get into an argument, you do better, that is progress. Remind yourself that there is still room for growth but congratulate yourself. The next time, hold your tongue longer. Think about what goal you will try to attain next, such as, refusing to say anything that results in engaging in the argument.
Remember, you are not perfect and will mess things up from time to time. It took me years to get this together. Continue to be aware of the way you are showing up and how you are reacting. Once again, the name of the game is progress. Practice getting better, so you can be better, and your relationship can get better.
Doing this on a consistent basis will have you wanting to see your spouse versus thinking “Damn, I have to see them again.” or “Damn, why is he texting?” or “Damn, why is he calling?” These are healthy ways to actually improve your relationship more than you realize.
- Change what you are avoiding.
Lots of times when we get into arguments, they are usually over stupid things. A way to counteract this is to change what you are avoiding. Such as those tough conversations. Stop avoiding them and have the talk. This ensures you are not building up resentment and frustration. You both can figure out what the deeper issue is that is plaguing your relationship. For example, you continue to scream at your spouse when he wants to hang with the boys. Deep down inside, it is not about him hanging out with the boys. It is more about the fact that when he leaves for hours and hours you feel lonely, not good enough nor sexy enough like he once made you feel when you two first started dating. You miss those butterflies in your stomach and you want those feelings back.
Get to the deeper issues of why you feel a certain way regarding a particular subject and peel back that onion until you reach the core of the issues instead of focusing on the superficial reasons.
- Make a list of all of the major fights you two keep having and then one by one start talking about those issues.
Discuss the things that hurt you. Have those tough conversations. Stop sweeping things under the rug and allowing them to fester. Create this list and then share it with your spouse. This is the only way you are going to move towards a healthier relationship. You have to address the hard topics. You two have to discuss things that have been festering. The things you know would smooth things out in your relationship and take a huge weight out of your lives for good. Once you start knocking constant subjects you two argue about off your list, you will see how much more fun it is to be in your relationship. You will notice how much better your attitude is toward your spouse. You will be happier to be in their company. You can even enjoy some of the honeymoon stage again.
I share my 10 secrets with you because I know that they are going to change your relationship around. You will get the results you want, which is for your partner to shift and change into a better person.
Now if you need some help in any of these areas, definitely reach out to me. You can send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
or book your coaching call today.
Do not forget to check out the Relationship Resource Library to find many more secrets to creating an enriching love life with your spouse. Download yours today!
All the best,
Life & Relationship Strategist