We’ve all been there. There’s a point of unhappiness between the 2 of you. Maybe it’s some sort of long simmering resentment which you’ve been nursing for weeks, maybe it’s something unexpected that your partner does which sets you off or maybe it’s a real difference in opinion about something that matters to both of you. But you have a conflict, and then, instead of being able to work through it together, it explodes into a screaming match, a cold war and a bucketful of hurtful comments which neither of you really meant, but which can’t be taken back anymore.
Conflicts, arguments and disagreements are a part of any relationship, they help you to come to terms with who you are to each other and how you fit together as a couple. However, disagreements don’t, and shouldn’t have to be destructive, cruel and hurtful. So how do you take the anger out of an argument?
Take a Breath, Give Yourself Some Space
Everyone gets emotional during an argument, it’s natural, you wouldn’t be having an argument if you weren’t upset. Whilst your emotions are valid and you should recognise them, you don’t have to let them affect how you interact with your partner. If you are angry and upset, try and give yourself a little space before entering into a big discussion. Take a moment, breathe a little more deeply or step outside for a short walk. When you feel that you have a handle on your emotions, come back and start the discussion. You would be surprised at how quickly you might be able to get to the heart of the problem when your words and actions are not being ruled by intense and negative emotions.
Put Your Opinion on Hold
You definitely will have an opinion about what has gone wrong and what the problem with your partner is. But, just for a while, put your opinion on hold. Don’t jump to conclusions, and don’t start the conversations with an outright statement of blame, anger or accusation. You could have misunderstood the situation, and you could have done something that has set made your partner feel justifiably upset too. So, walk into the argument by holding back the opinions or conclusions you may already have come to.
Tell Your Partner You Want to Understand
Start by wanting to understand what your partner has to say. Too many arguments spiral out of control because both parties are yelling about how they’ve been wronged and neither party is even bothering to try to understand what the other has to say. Communication is a 2-way process, and it starts with the intent of both of you to want to understand each other.
Listen, Really Listen
Once your partner has started to tell you about how they feel and what they think has happened, listen. Listen and if something they say doesn’t make sense, repeat it back and ask them if that is what they really meant. You will probably find that you’ve both been looking at things from very different perspectives.
Try to See the Seed of Truth in What Your Partner is Saying
You are in a relationship together which probably means that on some level, your partner is someone you like, admire, respect, trust and love. If this is the case, then it’s unlikely that your partner’s unhappiness is part of some psychopathic plot to destroy you. There is probably a seed of truth in what your partner is saying. Try to listen for it. Once you recognise it, you will no longer be on opposite sides. If your partner mirrors what you are doing, then they will also recognise the truth in some of what you are saying. When you can get to this point, you know that with commitment, you will be able to work things out.
Remember the Important Things
Remember what’s important to both of you. Do you want to protect the love you have for each other? Is your relationship important? Do you genuinely respect your partner and want to have a committed relationship? If the answer is yes, then you will be better able to decide which arguments you need to hash out and which ones are not as important and which both of you should be more willing to concede to.
Focus on Working towards a Solution Together
Whatever the situation, if you do have a conflict, you must focus on creating a solution for it together. Unresolved arguments will become both mental and physical drag on your relationship. Even if you choose not to argue about them and try to ignore the issues, they will not magically go away. So, stay calm, keep anger out of the equation, focus on your relationship and what you can do together to resolve your conflicts.