Nobody enjoys fighting with their significant other, at least I certainly hope nobody does. That being said, I can't tell you how many times I've had someone tell me that they are having relationship problems because the two of them "argue constantly over dumb little things" or something of that variety.
I'm guessing it does, it's a pretty common problem for couples to have especially younger couples. I've certainly been a victim to this problem in past relationships and can tell you firsthand that, it sucks! Arguing is exhausting, and stressful, and it's simply not something that a healthy relationship should have as a common occurrence.
Luckily, ninety percent of arguments that occur in a relationship is actually completely unnecessary and can be avoided very easily. All you need is a simple five-minute lesson in basic interpersonal human communication and you will on your way to a dream relationship with nothing but laughs and smiles, as it should be.
Identifying between important arguments, and 'Hot Button' arguments.
Quickly before we get into avoiding unnecessary conflict, let's acknowledge that some conflict is actually very necessary. Every relationship is bound to have its differences. When those differences arise it is important that they are addressed directly and immediately. The key to properly addressing a disagreement is to be sure you are engaging in constructive conflict.
The other, more common, type of conflict is a destructive form caused by a conflict trigger. This type of conflict is unnecessary, it tears couples apart rather than strengthening them together. These arguments are caused by what we call 'Hot Buttons'.
Step one: learn what a 'Hot Button' is.
A hot button is a conflict trigger that provokes an unusual amount of emotional anger as a response. In other words, its something that someone says or does that sparks an unexplainable response of heavy anger and defensiveness. Everybody has Hot Buttons, and they differ from person to person.
The reason that they prompt such reactions is because our Hot Buttons spark a sense of fear somewhere inside us. This fear can be deep-rooted and personal. For example say someone is joking with you and says "you better study for your exams, you don't want to end up working at McDonald's for the rest of your life."
While this comment isn't inherently kind, many of us could easily laugh it off without much thought. But say someone has a deep-rooted fear of failure - a comment like this might be enough to send them into an absolute tizzy. This would be a Hot Button for them.
Step two: identify your Hot Buttons.
Like I mentioned, Hot Buttons stem from a fear. This can be a personal fear, it can be a fear of injustice, or a fear stemmed from a feeling of being attacked. This is why we react so extremely. We all have them, for some of us they may be easier to identify than others. Take a second to try to identify a few of yours. Here are some general examples to get you thinking.
A Hot Button could be a person calling you mean. This could be stemmed from the fact that you have been bullied so you fear that you are becoming like a bully, resulting in defensiveness.
A Hot Button could be a short answered text or being left on read. This could be stemmed from the fear that the other person doesn't care about you, resulting in feeling very hurt or upset.
A Hot Button could be someone telling you that you are acting like your sister. This could be stemmed from the fact that you don't get along with your sister, you dislike her personality, so you have a fear of being considered like her.
Step three: learn how to navigate Hot Button situations without conflict.
Hopefully, you were able to think of and identify a few of your hotspots. From here, let's look at how to use that knowledge to be aware of when a Hot Button is being pressed. With this awareness, you will be able to redirect the unnecessary anger and maintain rationality whole avoiding unpleasant conflict.
Step 1: identify that a Hot Button is being pushed. When you feel anger forming in your stomach, take a step back and ask yourself why. What exactly is causing the anger? Why? Is it a hot button situation, or something bigger? Is the person intentionally angering you, or are you getting unreasonably upset for a personal reason?
Step 2: take a step back. Once you have identified that a Hot Button is being pushed you need to step back and breathe. Recollect your calm.
Step 3: consciously acknowledge that it is not personal and this person is not trying to attack you. Most likely they have no idea it is even upsetting you.
Step 4: communicate your feelings. People tend to get really freaked out about this part, I'm not sure why. Relationships are all about communication. Calmly tell the person that it upsets you when they say or do that thing and that you'd appreciate if they tried to avoid it from now on. It's that simple.
Step 5: admire the fact that you have just avoided what could have been a stressful, draining, frustrating argument. Emotions are powerful things, but when you take control of them rather than letting them control you, your life becomes much, much easier.
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