Seven Things You Should Know about The Art of Arguing

Posted On: Monday, July 20, 2015

Arguing is healthy. It expresses passion and it even arouses us and makes us feel alive. It creates stimulation and it's a way for us to relate to each other. Arguing is an important part of a relationship.

What makes arguing damaging is when couples don't know how to argue effectively or they argue in a way that becomes, loud, angry, critical and hurtful. That kind of arguing becomes fighting; and that can be devastating in a marriage.

Believe it or not, you can still feel the love -- even in the midst of an argument. Here are some ways to accomplish this.

Be mindful of criticism -- talk about what you're feeling -- not all the things your partner is doing wrong. Criticism feels like an attack. It puts your partner on the defense. And once that happens you're going nowhere fast. Pay attention to your tone and body language.

Stay on target -- The flip side of criticism is defensiveness. Don't respond by trying to rationalize your behavior. That's not going to help you or your partner feel better. And that is really the goal isn't it? You love this person, you want them feel better.

When your partner attempts to turn towards you because they're hurt (even though it may be expressed as anger), they're looking for comfort and reassurance. The best response is, "I hear you. I get it." Imagine having an argument and hearing those words. They can be transformative and shift a potential argument into feeling loved and connected.

It's not about being right -- Arguing is not a competition. We're all unique individuals. Every one of us has a different way of seeing things -- a different reality. Arguing is NOT about winning, it's about feeling heard, valued and loved. You don't have to agree with your partner -- but you do have to be respectful of each other's reality. In a loving relationship, each of you is entitled to your feelings and thoughts. The ultimate goal is to hear, validate and comfort each other during those times when one or both of you is feeling angry, hurt, disappointed or frustrated.

Learn to manage your feelings -- When you're feeling angry and resentful, it's difficult to find clarity and to "feel the love." But if you project that onto your partner, he or she is going to want to run away or fight back. Neither of those things is going to get you what you want and need at that moment, which is comfort and understanding. It's important to own what you are feeling. Managing your feelings is your responsibility.

Look deeper than what you are seeing -- Let's face it -- sometimes it's not easy to remain calm and comforting when your sensing anger and resentment. But another way to diffuse a quickly escalating situation is to look deeper than what you are seeing. When we feel hurt or in pain, we tend to lash out. Any bid for attention -- even one that looks angry and a little scary -- is an attempt to be closer -- a desire for reassurance. Knowing this about each other can help to diffuse the need to attack and defend.

Use humor and playfulness -- One of the reasons children are so resilient is because they know how to be playful and have fun. As adults, we sometimes lose the ability to do that in our relationships. Being playful with each other establishes connection and engagement. And it feels good! Sometimes finding humor in the situation and ourselves can be very helpful.

Have faith and gratitude -- We're all human and we make mistakes. Arguments are rarely about what you're arguing about. Most of the time they're about the need to feel more loved, more appreciated, and more secure. Gratitude and focus on the good things in your marriage can help keep arguing in perspective. And having faith that your marriage is based on love and trust, can help you through the more challenging times.

Dr. Laura Richter is a licensed Marriage and Family therapist who works with individuals, couples, and families. Her specialties include: surviving infidelity, improving communication, beginning again after divorce and effective co-parenting after divorce. She is also a trained mediator, qualified parenting coordinator and collaborative law mental health professional. For more information, please call or text us today at 561-715-6404 to schedule a consultation to see how we can help.