Arguments, like so many other negative aspects of life, are inevitable. They are a necessary part of being human. We are each equipped with our own set of opinions, pet peeves, and behaviors that we consider unacceptable; because of this, it's nearly impossible to have a close relationship with someone without arguing about something and some point.
However, arguments don't have to be fruitless. When we argue, it seems like too many of us totally forget that we are arguing a point or trying to express our feelings--not simply trying to verbally destroy our "opponent." We get caught up in the fight and we become passionate about what we're claiming or opposing, and we lose the ability to have a productive fight.
A productive fight might sound crazy to you now, but, trust me, they are real. Productive arguments are arguments in which both parties express their feelings in such a way that a compromise can be reached without anyone launching a personal attack. These fights are actually beneficial for our relationships. They allow us to make our feelings known without causing lasting damage to the other party; they are open, if not harsh, discussions that give both people the ability to express themselves and then make improvements. Having a productive argument can lead to a deeper relationship, or at the very least a compromise that allows both individuals to move forward sans grudges.
Productive arguments are especially important in romantic relationships, because they prevent couples from lashing out at each other and, consequently, walking away from fights angry and bitter. It's all too easy to get mean and personal when fighting with our partners, but we forget that the goal is to maintain the relationship--not damage it for the sake of getting back at each other.
So, in the hopes that we can all learn to have productive arguments, I've outlined five ways to fight effectively.
1. Stay focused on the issue at hand.
Try not to go on tangents about previous grievances. This argument has a main point, try to remember that. This is not the time to bring up that one really embarrassing thing that he does in public, or her messy habits, or whatever other annoyances. Finish this argument completely, move on, and then consider bringing up other problems after you've both cooled off.
2. Fight fair.
You haven't actually "won" the argument if you've simply silenced the other side by being rude or hurtful. In fact, you've lost. You've created distance between you and your partner by attacking them personally. Moreover, you're not discussing the real problem, therefore it won't be solved. This argument is going to pop up again and again until you drop the insults and have a real conversation.
3. Realize that your partner is not the enemy.
Your partner is simply arguing his or her side; they are not the enemy. The real enemy is the issue that you're discussing, whether it be another person who is causing issues in your relationship or a less tangible problem. Once it occurs to you that your partner is not out to get you, they just have a differing opinion, it becomes easier to argue against the points they are making and not them.
4. Choose your arguments wisely.
They say "choose your battles wisely" for a reason. Every little frustration does not have to become a full-blown argument. Really consider the potential fight before you launch it. Ask yourself this: is this something my partner can change, or is this something that I need to learn to live with? Are you picking a fight over something petty or an aspect of their personality? If the answer is yes to either of those questions, then you need to move on without fighting. Just because something irritated you does not mean you need to bring it up. This sort of arguing leads to your partner feeling like he or she can't make you happy.
5. It's okay to leave a fight not completely satisfied.
As long as you both have reached a compromise that allows you to grow and move on, it's okay if you don't feel content or "happy" with the fight. So many of us are caught up in our emotions and we don't realize that a fight ends when we decide it ends. It's okay to still feel frustrated at the end of the argument as long as you feel heard. Sometimes, we disagree with our partners, and that's part of a relationship. Two different people aren't going to agree on every single thing, no matter what the rom coms say.
These are five tips on how to have a better fight. This list is by no means exhaustive, but if you apply these points to your arguments I'm sure you'll see positive results.
Of course, I think it's important to note that some things just can't be overcome. Issues like infidelity or lying can't be solved in many relationships, and that's okay, too. If you have come to realize that you and your partner aren't fighting over problems, your fighting over the relationship, it's time to step back and assess whether this relationship is right for you.
On the other hand, many of us are fighting with our partners over very solvable things and we can use these tips to protects ourselves and our relationships. I hope this helps.
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