I am often asked about constant arguing in relationships.
Arguments are universal in all species. Watch the monkeys at the zoo. Birds in the trees…even chickens in the coop. All living creatures seem to spend a lot of time in argument..and that seems a necessary part of assuring your place in the group.
Humans are no exception and I have seen the full range of arguments in human cultures from compromise reached to violence inflicted.
Now let’s look at your situation. What is the nature of your arguments?
Consider these points in your verbal interactions with others and especially your partner.
Do you need to win?
If your need to win is strong, your partner will become defensive. It will become a fight to the finish…but really there is no winner if the relationship fails.
Do you allow the other to talk?
If there is no sharing of views…each of you seeking an opportunity to jump in with your piece, a healthy discussion becomes an unhealthy power play.
Do you listen?
If you tune out as you prepare your next verbal attack and interrupt the other with it, you are showing disrespect. A compromise or an agreement to disagree becomes impossible.
Do you become emotionally involved?
If your voices rises and tones and words that may demean and hurt are used, this is a sign that you’re entering fight to the finish mode. The battle of ideas has become a battler of individuals.
Difference of opinion is part of life, but how you express that difference is the key to happy interactions with others.
Arguments that are controlled and temperate are a vital part of every relationship.
Continual argument in a relationship where there is a regular loser leads to unhappiness and deteriorating relationship.
When two people present their opposing views in a respectful and passionate way, understanding flows back and forth. Each party may discover something new so long as each remains open to learn something from the other.
However, this utopian ideal is put aside when the presenters cannot agree and feel their strongly held beliefs threatened.
A study by Galand and Rucker, from Northwestern University in the US, found that when people’s confidence in their beliefs is shaken, or uncertain, they become stronger advocates for those beliefs.
In relationships we walk a tight line between debate and disagreement.
If our core beliefs are queried, a defensive position often adopted is vehemence and sometimes violence.
It seems the more unsure you are about a particular issue, the louder you may shout.
So if there is a lot of arguing in your life here is something else to consider.
Research from Denmark links frequent unhealthy arguing at work and at home with premature death from stress induced high blood pressure or heart disease.
So how to fix a relationship suffering from argument stress and add happy years to your life?
Here’s one simple solution to your communication problems.
Ask yourself “Is this relationship worth saving?”
If your relationship is worth saving you must both agree to disagree. Make a Certificate of Agreement.
Pick a magic word you both agree upon. If you cannot find one, sadly your relationship is doomed!
Find a word from some happy time you had together…talk about that happy time..it might be an adventure, a holiday, a joyful event….and use that as you code word.
So when there is an argument that is becoming unhealthy, use the code word. Once used, both parties cease. Go for a walk…read a book.
Like a bad dream, the power of an unhealthy argument fades the longer you are away from it.
Thinking about other things will enable you to move past the argument and get your relationship to a better place.
After using the code word a few times, you will find it is a quick end to heat.
Realise that there are some things that just cannot be agreed upon, but that is our life.
Just imagine how boring life would be if all of us were in perpetual and total agreement.