Arguments are common in all kinds of relationships. Some degree of conflict can even be healthy, as it means both people are expressing themselves, rather than keeping everything inside and letting emotions fester.
But if you’re arguing all the time, or simple disagreements end up in a hostile silence or screaming match, it can really start to take a toll on things – or even leave you wondering whether you’re all that compatible in the first place.
Learning ways to handle disagreements constructively is crucial in any relationship. We always say: conflict is inevitable. It’s how you deal with it that counts.
From there, it’s a case of talking things over in a calm and constructive manner. This can be really hard when you’re feeling emotional, so you might like to try the following tips:
Choose an appropriate time to talk. If you think you’re going to struggle with your emotions, it may be worth simply coming back to the topic when you’ve both calmed down. Likewise, it’s a good idea to have the conversation at a time when you’re both able to focus on it – not immediately before someone has to go to work or with the TV on in the background.
Try to start the discussion amicably. Don't go in with all guns firing, or with a sarcastic or critical comment. It can be useful to start by saying something positive, such as: ‘I feel like we were getting on really well a few months ago. I was hoping we could talk about how much we’ve been arguing recently.’
Use ‘I’ statements, not ‘you’ statements. This will mean your partner is less likely to feel like they’re being attacked, and you’ll be taking responsibility for your own emotions. For instance, instead of saying ‘you never listen to me’, trying saying: ‘I feel like I’m not being heard when I talk to you’.
Try to see things from your partner’s perspective. A conversation is unlikely to go anywhere productive unless both participants feel listened to. It can be tempting to just try to get your point across, but if you want to resolve things, it’s really important you take the time to hear what your partner has to say too. They may have an entirely different perspective – one you’ll need to understand if you want to get to the root of what’s going wrong. Try to validate each other’s feeling by saying things like: ‘It makes sense to me that you feel like that’. Making your partner feel heard can be hugely powerful.