I have been counseling couples and families for twenty years (feeling a bit old saying that!). Communication problems are common. It’s amazing how easy it is to miscommunicate and how make assumptions. Here are some tips for how to resolve arguments that I frequently use in my psychotherapy practice.
- Remember you are “on the same team”. The goal is not to “win” the argument. The goal is resolution in a way that is respectful and meets both of your needs.
- Timing matters. Don’t try to discuss sensitive issues when either of you are tired, hungry, or upset about something else. Also, be sure you have your partner’s full attention (so often someone is distracted with TV, texting, etc).
- Know when to walk away. When an argument has deteriorated to name calling, cursing, or other harmful or non-productive dialogue, it’s time to table the subject. It helps to have a pro-active conversation, when all is calm, to establish that when arguments become heated, either of you can say “I need a time out” or “I’m frustrated. Let’s revisit this tomorrow.” It’s important that you actually do revisit the subject when you are both calm.
- Keep the argument present focused. This is not the time to rehash all of the old arguments and grievances. This will only prolong the argument, flare tempers, and get you sidetracked.
For more ideas check out this article in Primer Magazine. Some of the tips above were included.