Arguments are never about nothing
Most of the time, we are left wondering how in the world we got into this heated argument when it started out as a serious conversation. The original topic somehow gets lost in the discussion as soon as someone asks the question, “WHY?” or the other starts their sentence with, “You always….” Suddenly, it is ON! Why does this always happen?
Here are the reasons couples get into an argument during a discussion about an important topic:
- Expectations – Each of you have a predetermined outcome in mind (which is almost never the same).
- Emotions – Each of you have feelings that are running high, but often not acknowledged or identified.
- Emergency – Both parties enter the discussion with the idea that it must be resolved right NOW!
- Either – The idea that there are only 2 solutions to the issue puts each of you on the defensive -“It is either MY way or the highway” thinking.
As we adopt this tunnel vision that is completely self-centered, we unconsciously create “sides.” We all want to be on the winning side. The competition heats up and BAM—one of you takes the first verbal punch at the other. Before you even realize it, both of you are engaging in friendly fire, shooting hurtful words at each other. Adding glares, folded arms (or flailing arms) as you each defend your ground, the distance between what you intended to talk about and what you are saying multiplies so fast that the original topic is nothing but a speck in the distance.
When we have an important topic or decision to make, our attention is almost always focused on the outcome we want to see.
Couples will begin this serious discussion with every intention to come to an agreement—but each person already has an idea of how the discussion will go and what the outcome should be. The problem-solving mindset is not romantic, dreamy, or fun. This is serious business, and we must address this issue or solve this problem right away!
Moving out of this destructive habit is not easy, and it takes commitment. Practice makes permanent. If you have been falling into this trap of arguing every time you need to have a serious discussion, it will take time to break this habit.
Some simple tips to break this cycle are:
- Be NICE. This may be the most important and most difficult thing you can do to avoid an argument. Determine that no matter how the conversation goes, you will be nice to the other person because you love them.
- Stay on the same side! Remember you are not talking with an enemy; this is the person you love and want to be with. You are not on opposite sides; you are on the same team.
- HALT – Never talk about a serious conversation when either of you are Hungry, Angry, Late or Tired.
- Do not start a sentence with “You” or “Why” when having a serious discussion.
- Change the scenery. Do not go back to the same room or place where you typically have arguments. If you normally have these discussions/arguments in the kitchen, go for a walk and talk together.
- Recognize what you are feeling and why. Knowing what you’re feeling and why gives you power over your emotions.
Changing your arguments to meaningful discussions will allow you to disagree in a way that brings you closer together rather than tearing you apart. Disagreements can add vitality and excitement to your relationship when you take the time to be deliberate on important decisions and issues together.
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