When I was a freshman in college I took a class called "HDFS 129: Introduction to Human Development and Family Studies." This class was not required for my major, but my friends recommended it and it sounded pretty intriguing, so I enrolled.
Lecture after lecture I found myself enthralled with the subject. The professor, Molly, made this class the most relatable and raw class I have ever taken. If I had to explain it to a stranger, I would say that it helps you understand why you are the way you are, why other people are the way they are, how our upbringings affect us for the rest of our lives and how we can change and control our relationships in the present. By the end of the semester, I had a good grasp on all of these topics and even decided to minor in the field.
But this article isn't a review of the class (although I could rave about it for hours). What I took away from that semester is that this class relates to everyone. And it simply has taught me so much about what to do and what not to do in friendships and relationships. So, I hope to use my voice and writing skills to help others learn about this subject as well.
One of my favorite topics we covered in the class was about how to make a marriage work. Although I am not at all ready for this stage in life, I found it so helpful to understand the do's and don'ts of a relationship, which can really be applied to any relationship at any stage in life. We looked at some famous research studies, which found that communication is vital in healthy relationships, but the style of communicating can actually predict breakups, separation, and divorce.
For example, there are many things you should not do when you're in an argument, whether it be with a friend, a date, a significant other or spouse.
So, now that I've finished rambling, here are 7 things you should NOT do during a disagreement:
I remember Molly's emphasis on why you should complain and not criticize.
"Aren't they the same thing?" you may be thinking.
Nope, complaining is healthy as long as you mention what it is that is specifically bothering you. It's OK to express anger or disagreement if there is something you do not like. Criticizing is different in that it offends the other person's character. You don't want to blame your friend or partner, you want to target specific issues.
2. Become defensive.
Defensiveness can be harmful, even if it's unintentional. When you become defensive, you're denying your part in the problem. You're essentially making excuses and redirecting responsibility.
3. Belittle your friend or partner.
No one should feel "stupid" after an argument. If you or your friend use name-calling, tons of sarcasm, or eye-rolls, it's not going to end well.
4. Withdraw from conflict.
This could be your or your partner's physical or mental removal from the situation. It's good to take a break from talking if you or your friend or significant other is agitated. However, constantly avoiding conflict is extremely harmful in the long run.
5. Attempt to quickly mend the relationship.
Sometimes, as much as it sucks, it takes time to mend friendships and relationships. My professor always said, "it's perfectly fine to go to bed mad!" You or your partner may need time to calm down before attempts at fixing the problem are made.
6. Tackle more than one problem at a time.
It's great to face issues head-on, and in order to do so successfully, it's best to focus on one issue at a time. People should show that they genuinely want to work things out, even if that means the problem ends in a compromise.
7. Give advice.
You may want to help your friend or partner, but if the two of you are in a fight, giving advice can make the other person feel belittled. It's better to be empathetic, or sensitive, meaning you put yourself in his or her shoes.
Obviously, I am not an expert in the field of Human Development and Family Studies, but my courses have given me so much vital knowledge. This is the first time I have really written about this class and I hope to talk more in the future about the other topics we have covered.