Do you regularly wonder how to stop arguing in a relationship? Once you develop unhealthy “fighting” habits as a couple, they can be challenging to change. Plus, there are times when you can’t agree no matter how hard you try. You come up to an impasse, and that can lead to constant arguing in a relationship.
The skirmish may cease for the moment. However, since the underlying issue remains unresolved, it’s just a matter of time before the same old trigger causes another flare-up. And the trouble is, the longer the relational conflict goes on, the more damage will occur.
As bad as relational or marital conflict may be, the increasing bitterness and lack of closeness between these disagreements can almost be worse. Slowly but surely, your relationship’s commitment and connection erode.
Thankfully, many couples eventually manage to get past what initially seems like a hopeless pattern of arguments. How does that happen? Although each couples’ conflict resolution journey plays out a bit differently, here are some things that can help.
Remember The Problem is How You Argue
Sadly, we can pick up the false idea from our families and culture that a couple arguing is terrible, which isn’t wholly accurate. Arguments or disagreements are a normal part of relationships.
The problem is how you argue, not that you disagree. A great relationship will have disagreements along the way as you align your purposes with each other. You’re on the same team, and staying on the same team means regularly working through differences.
When arguments happen healthily and respectfully, they can be some of the most important and transformational moments in your growth as a couple. Your relationship gains even sharper focus than before. On the other hand, when opposing opinions cause you to work against each other you begin to see your partner as your enemy rather than your ally.
In her “Psychology Today” article entitled 10 Tips for Solving Relationship Conflicts, Gwendolyn Seldman Ph.D. shares the following:
“When handled properly, fighting can improve your relationship. If you never fight and never talk about your problems, you will never solve them.”
So, is it normal to fight in a relationship? Yes! But the key is to work together to find a resolution, and if you cannot do that on your own, find help to do so. As a starting place, here are strategies to ensure your fighting does not become destructive to your relationship.
Focus on the Problem, Not the Person
One of the keys of how to stop fighting in a relationship is to avoid attacking your partner when you disagree on something. Sounds easy enough, right? Yet, it’s far too simple to revert to doing just that. By all means, fight in relationships. Just be sure you’re fighting against the problem as a team rather than attacking each other.
Learn to Listen Without Interrupting
If you can develop the habit of listening to your partner during disagreements, you’ll make a significant breakthrough in how to avoid arguments in a relationship. So many interruptions happen in the typical disagreement. If we don’t decide beforehand, we tend to interrupt the other partner, breaking down communication rather than building it up.
Make respectful eye contact, take some deep breaths and listen to all your partner says before responding. Then, do your best to reply calmly. Even if you have a good idea of what your partner will say, don’t interrupt them. It isn’t only about understanding what is said. It’s also about being respectful while the other one shares their thoughts.
Seldman also warns against one of the most sinister trust breakers during arguments, sometimes referred to as contempt. This is when you go beyond just passionately disagreeing about something. Instead, you revert to tactics that belittle and dehumanize your spouse or partner.
This may be done through name-calling, rolling your eyes, or any other practice that makes your partner feel less than they are. This is a concern beyond isolated arguments as regular contempt in a relationship is a dependable predictor of divorce. We’re human and can take only so much. Since being demeaned in a relationship can only be survived so long, avoid it at all costs.
Stay Positive During Disagreements
Seldman also recommends, as research has shown, that couples need at least five positive interactions for every negative one. Relationships, where this doesn’t happen, are far more vulnerable to divorce. And even if they do hold together a little longer, they won’t have the same satisfaction level they could’ve otherwise experienced.
Find ways to stay positive together when things grow heated. This could involve discussing the good you see in a bad situation but can go beyond that. You also can joke or find other ways to lighten the mood. There’s also nothing wrong with embracing afterwards to remind each other that you still care even though getting along isn’t always easy.
When You’re at an Impasse
One of the most aggravating, hopeless and infuriating challenges for any couple is when you keep having the same argument over and over again. Nothing gets resolved, and your once happy relationship continues to sink ever further into the abyss.
If you keep arguing but can’t find adequate resolutions on your own, get help from an experienced couples therapist. The sooner you do, the sooner you’ll be able to resolve the problem and avoid any further damage.
How to Stop Arguing in a Relationship – Couples Therapy Can Help
Sometimes couples find ways to disagree healthily on their own. They also sometimes can learn to stop repeatedly arguing about the same thing. However, there are plenty of situations when conflict resolution in relationships is too challenging to handle alone.
Needing outside help for your relationship due to disagreements doesn’t make you weak. We all need help from others outside our relationship at times. A trusted and professional third party can help you find better ways to communicate your feelings and needs to each other. You can also discover ways to get past disagreements that never seem to get resolved through couples or marriage counselling.