Overcoming arguments in a relationship is not about eliminating them but rather just understanding them. Arguments are inevitable, here’s how to ensure they don’t overtake your relationship.
1. Recognize Recurrent Arguments
Not every problem in a relationship is solvable. According to John Gottman, relationship expert and Professor of Psychology at the University of Washington, 69 percent of arguments are perpetual. Part of overcoming arguments in your relationship is recognizing which ones are solvable and which ones are recurrent.
For example, Russell was raised in a republican family with “right wing” political views. Isabel, on the other hand grew up in a household that tended to be more liberal in their political views. Russell and Isabel engage in heated debate every time they turn on the news. They are constantly battling with each other with hopes that they will convince the other to change. They never recognize that they have this fight weekly and that it’s the source of many of their conflicts. If Russell and Isabel were able to identify this as a recurrent and unsolvable argument, their disagreement would not overwhelm their relationship.
Some problems in relationship are solvable. Many times when my fiancé and I would get into arguments my instinct would be to solve them right away. She was the opposite, she needed space before attempting to resolve our conflicts. You can see how these two very different approaches would clash.
Part of my issue was that I focused on the argument being solved more than listening to what my fiancé needed in that moment. I noticed that once I was able to give her space, which was not easy for me to do, we would later come together and address our disagreement without the in-the-moment emotions.
3. The Start Up
Many disagreements in relationships can be avoided altogether. According to one of John Gottman’s studies, 96 percent of conflicts end in the same note they begin. If you harshly take up your issue with your partner, you are very much likely to end that discussion negatively. If you softly start up your issue with your partner, you are more likely to maintain peace in your relationship at the end of that discussion.
Relationships are not a clear cut 50/50. Some days, compromise might look like 40/60 and other days 60/40. Relationships are built on compromise and understanding. If you are able to recognize solvable problems and be self aware of your approach, you can find a solution to many of your issues with your partner.
No couple can avoid heated arguments 100 percent of the time. Personally speaking, I am aware of many of the principals of resolving arguments and I still find ways to screw it up. I am not a perfect partner, nor will I ever be. However, when I mess up I am able to come back to apologize and admit when I wrongfully approached an issue.
How a couple is able to repair after an argument is imperative to the long-term health of that relationship, as eloquently stated by John Gottman, “To err is human… to repair is divine.”
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