Arguing with someone you care about rarely ranks on top of our favorite things to do but disagreements in relationships are bound to occur when two individuals are working together whatever capacity. While many couples view arguments as proof of incompatibility, the truth is, sharing grievances and frustrations in a productive way can actually save your life. A recent study at The University of Michigan showed that married couples who argued actually outlived those who didn’t. The key is not to work on having a conflict-free relationship but instead to learn how to manage conflict in a productive and respectful way. Here are some tips to help:
1. Don’t be a bully:
There is a big difference between working to better a situation and chewing away at your partner’s patience by nagging them for every little frustration. Picking on your partner can cause the nitpicked party to feel bullied which will cause them to run for cover every time you bring up an issue or dismiss significant concerns as just another attack.
2. Make a decision: do you want to be right or happy?
When we are in a heated discussion, the need to have our partner concede can be so overwhelming that we lose sight of the common goal which should be to better the relationship and come to an understanding. 3. Take a time out.
It takes a lot of self control to walk away in the middle of a heated discussion but if you can do it, you might save yourself and your partner from having to swallow a huge pile of regret and pain a little later. A good motivator is to remember that we are all accountable for every action, reaction and word we utter regardless of whether or not we mean it and how sorry we are after the fact. 4. Keep arguments fair.
Good people do very bad, annoying and hurtful things and it is important for both parties to understand there is a difference between disliking the person and disliking the action. This is why name-calling and character attacks should be left out of the discussion as well as avoiding the “Everything but the kitchen sink” effect where one or both of you go down a laundry list of every bad thing the other has done in the last five years. 5. Speak on your own behalf.
When sharing your concerns, discuss how certain actions or words make you feel instead of starting every sentence with “You always” or making grand statements about how your partner things or feels. For example: “I know you love me and most likely don’t understand that when you do not calling me when you are running late makes me feel disrespected and worried so I am telling you now. Can you try and be more considerate about this?” 6. Refuse to participate in disrespectful behaviors.
Throwing things, threatening and verbal abuse is never acceptable and you have a right not to participate in any situation where you feel as though you are being violated or your safety is at risk. If your partner is out-of-control it is better to walk away than to try and calm them down. 7. Try and avoid calling in the support troops.
It is one thing to call a trusted friend or loved one to talk about your feelings or get advice and quite another to call every person you both know to get people “on your side.” Brenda Della Casa is the author of Cinderella Was a Liar a freelance writer and columnist who specializes in romance, lifestyle and wellness features. In addition to her writing, Brenda spent nine years interviewing thousands of men and women while casting some of television’s most well-known reality shows. Brenda's columns appear on and in Start Your Business Magazine, Iamstaggered.com, FiLife.com, Basil & Spice and Divorce360.com. She has been seen on The Today Show, iVillage Live and numerous other television and radio shows.Brenda has written for and been featured in dozens of publications. Her blog, Walking Barefoot can be seen at www.strollwithoutshoes.com
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