Deal Breaker? How to Get Past a Major Argument With Your Partner
You’re deeply in love and you can’t imagine saying an unkind word to your partner. Things are wonderful and you feel so lucky to be together. Then, your first big fight happens. No matter how great your relationship is, there will come a time when you and your partner have a disagreement. You’ll be angry, you may not want to talk to each other, but you’ll (hopefully) work through it. Here’s how to get past a major argument with your partner.
1. Get to the real issue
Realize your partner might be upset about something, but choose to pick a fight with you about something totally unrelated. This is sometimes unknowingly done in an attempt to release frustration about another issue or to fulfill an unmet need. Dr. Greg Smalley, author, psychologist, and vice president of marriage and family formation at Focus on The Family, says listening to your partner is key to uncovering the real issue. “Begin your communication with the mindset of listening and understanding one another. As you attempt to clarify the conflict, repeat, using your own words, your mate’s position,” Smalley writes for CBN. “Actively listen and understand what your mate is saying. In turn, this slows down the process and allows each person to feel heard and understood.”
2. Don’t escalate
Escalators are good for malls but bad for relationships. If you’ve been together for a while, you know how to push each other’s buttons. Don’t. If you know that using certain words or bringing up certain topics will trigger your partner and worsen the argument, just don’t do it. Resist your urge to get revenge because it isn’t so sweet when you find yourself without the one you love. Instead, stay calm and look for ways to diffuse the tension.
Psychologist John Gottman refers to efforts to prevent a conflict from getting out of control as repair attempts. These repair attempts are any statement or action that stops a negative interaction from becoming a runaway train. Your repair attempt could be anything from making a silly face, sharing a joke, or simply speaking kind words in a loving tone.
3. Practice compassion
Try to see the argument from your partner’s point of view. It’s easy to get caught up in your own emotions and seek to be heard. Step outside of yourself for a moment to try to feel what your partner might be feeling. If you can calm yourself down enough to view the argument from a place that is open and compassionate, you’ll be able to work through the issue together. See each other as partners, not boxers trying to win a match.
4. Manage expectations
Many relationship conflicts arise because one or both partners’ expectations are not being met. Before you get to your next argument, it will be a good idea to sit down with your partner to discuss expectations. This may help reduce the frequency of misunderstandings. Do what you can to try to meet each other’s needs once you have gained a better understanding of what is and isn’t expected from you.
5. Don’t hold grudges
Make an effort to forgive your partner. The fight may be over, but you could still be harboring resentment. Let go of the past and work toward moving on. It’s not helpful to your relationship to keep bringing up past hurts. Grudges are emotional poison that will seep out and eventually lead to a relationship breakdown.
Follow Sheiresa on Twitter @ SheiresaNgo.