Navigating Rough Waters: Rules for Fighting With Your Partner

by: Joshua Isaacson

Arguing or disagreeing with your partner is never fun. Let’s be real. No one wants to see the person they love yelling, screaming, belittling you and all that fun stuff that can come with a big heated argument. And vice versa of course. The person you love doesn’t want to see you doing these things either. However, if this is the case when you have a disagreement or argument, then you are doing it all wrong. I have a few pointers on how to make this uncomfortable moments much more bearable and less (potentially) destructive.

1. Do not raise your voices.

I think that this is an extremely important aspect to any disagreement. If you can manage to keep your voices at a regular volume it will come off more as just a conversation, even if you are really disagreeing hard about something. Also by leaving your voices normal it doesn’t give anyone that extra power of volume. If you can yell louder than I can I’m not gonna feel like my point is ever going to be heard or received. Plain and simple. Talk, don’t yell.

2. Open your ears.

It may seem very obvious but this seems to be one of the things that people forget to do during an argument. You need to be willing to hear what the other person has to say. You can not  disregard what they are trying to convey. What good is that going to do in the grand scheme of things? You didn’t listen before? Now that same issue is going to come back in a couple weeks and you’re back in this vicious circle of arguing about the same issue over time. I’m willing to bet that if you listen to the issue the first time it will not be an issue a second time.

3. Validate feelings.

When someone says “I’m very hurt by what you did” you need to take some responsibility for making this person feel this way. This person is reaching out and doesn’t want to feel hurt anymore, you need to realize this as a good thing and a way to understand their feelings. Take advantage of this and hear the hurt and try to empathize with it so that you both can move on and ideally not hurt each other in the same way again.

4. Show that you are listening.

This is not as hard as it sounds. When your partner says anything you can easily show that you are listening just by repeating the main idea of what they said back to them. This is crucial during an argument! If you aren’t getting what they are saying how are you going to work through the issue!? Reiterating what your partner has said is major in making sure that this argument or disagreement gets settled.

5. Embrace your feelings.

There is obviously nothing easy about arguing with the one you love. You may hear things that hurt your feelings, piss you off, make you happy (in a weird way I suppose), make you sad, and all kinds of other things. The best thing to do with these feelings is to actually embrace them! Nothing productive will come of ignoring feelings and pushing them away. By embracing your emotions and really feeling them you can use this as a way to empathize with the other person who could be feeling the exact same things as you are now.

6. Don’t stop until the issue is resolved, or you both feel comfortable with the progress.

Obviously, no one likes to argue and fight, regardless of who you’re fighting with, but it happens. You should be willing to sit with that tension and those feelings that come up until you have a way of reaching some sort of compromise or resolution to the issue at hand. You don’t like when your partner leaves the toilet seat up? Well, then you better sit in that argument until you both reach a solution to it. The argument will do no good if you do not reach some kind of solution! It may not be fun to sit and argue about something for 20 minutes, 40 minutes, 3 hours or however long the argument lasts, but it needs to go on that long to reach finality.

7. Don’t rush it.

Give it time. Let it breathe. Get everything out on the table so that you both know exactly what you are dealing with, so you can figure out exactly what the real issue is so you can move on and sort it out.

8. Sum it all up.

When everything gets worked out, because hopefully it will, take a few minutes to just talk about the whole situation in general. This will really reinforce the main aspect of what the disagreement was really about. It will also make sure that you both took away from it what you wanted. Work it out and then do a replay of it!

They may seem very simple and obvious, but think about the last time you were in an argument. Did you adhere to any of these rules? All of them? If so, kudos to you! If not, you might want to think about working on some communication methods friends.

I know that these little rules work. My boyfriend and I do our best to use these rules any time a disagreement arises (which is not often, as we have good communication and all that). However, whenever something does come up these rules are being followed by both of us, and we’ve never had a conversation about how to handle arguments. These are just things that we have both learned from dealing with previous relationships (or that I have, at least, because I shouldn’t speak for him). We’ve had a couple good disagreements, but we manage to work through it in a civilized, mature way and I think that it has ultimately helped our communication even more! The fact that we can have these discussions (notice, discussion, not fight) and get things worked out makes it easier to bring anything up in the future, which is really good to know.

Best of luck to all you lovers in your next argument! I hope it won’t happen for a while, but if it does, keep these little pointers in mind to help you navigate those “rough waters” and all those other cliche phrases for arguments.

Joshua Isaacson is a Psychology major in Minneapolis who wants to research LGBT psychological development and the causes and affects of homophobia on the mind. Joshua is also a volunteer for the Trevor Project, a Diablo III addict, an avid reader, a big music junkie and loves some salty goodness.

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One response to “Navigating Rough Waters: Rules for Fighting With Your Partner

  1. I’d add this to the list. “Have serious conversations about your relationship while naked or in the shower together.” Silly, I know, but you are already both literally and emotionally bare. Plus, when you fallow the rules above it leads naturally to awesome make-up/successful communication sex!

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