Arguing is part of communicating in a relationship, but the limit exists. Knowing your partner’s style and recognizing how your style is similar or different will help you manage your disagreement better. Rows are often just the symptom that we feel our partner isn’t supporting us, that they’re not there for us.
Exercise A Better Way to Argue
Research shows that the time when partners and parents are most likely to have a row is when they get together at the end of the day. There are four main reasons for this:
1. Tiredness – feeling physically and emotionally tired.
2. Work stress – bringing home all the stress of a day at work.
3. Home stress – coping with the demands of children and trying to get things done in time.
4. Clash of expectations – each partner is looking forward to calm at the end of their day and expecting their other half will provide it.
One way to argue better is to think about arguments at a time when you aren’t actually in the middle of one! The purpose of this exercise is to look at an argument (that isn’t your own) from all angles. By focusing on someone else’s row you can get a sense of how to argue better in your own relationship.
Exercise Taking sides
When we feel supported by our partner, we feel cared for and more satisfied with our relationship. Rows are often just the symptom that we feel our partner isn’t supporting us and that they’re not there for us. Sometimes we just need to offload our feelings about life, to express our frustrations, anger, anxieties – whatever – without fear that we might be held to account for them. When we feel able to release our feelings in this way, calming down and putting things in perspective can seem easier to do.
But if our partner’s immediate response is to give unasked-for advice, a solution, or a lecture on the best way of handling the situation, it can feel as though we haven’t really been understood. Or worse still that they are not on our side! When this happens, our relationship becomes a source of frustration. Making an effort to listen differently to our partner at these times, by giving them a secure and safe space to express their feelings, without providing immediate comment or answers – can make a big difference to how supported our partner feels. Showing your solidarity in this way will increase your sense of togetherness and of being a team.