Arguments are inevitable in relationships.
In fact, many arguments are not even completely resolved amongst people in long-term relationships. This is normal and NOT an indicator of an unhealthy relationship.
Perhaps this sounds odd… but let me give you an example from my own life. My hubby and I strongly disagree about the way free time should be pursued. I believe that being active and spending a lot of time talking and doing things is the best way to spend time. He believes taking naps/lounging, watching movies, or playing hours of video games is best. There have been many arguments in our home about our free time and this issue is likely never going away because this is simply part of our own individual dispositions and personalities.
Our marriage is not doomed because of this.
Your marriage, your romantic relationship, your family relationship, (insert what fits you best here!) is NOT doomed because you do not ever agree on something.
Where you will find doom is if you argue and disagree in a way that is damaging and resentful and selfish.
The WAY in which we argue is SO critical to the health of our relationships. We must have rules… or perhaps you like the idea of “guidelines” better (thank you Pirates of the Caribbean)… in our arguing.
Here are a few examples:
- No name calling.
This means you cannot say someone is a jerk, idiot, or for our more colorful audience… d***, b****, or a**h***. (Keeping it PG here folks.) This includes put-downs too AND may include swearing for some of you. (I do not know if telling someone, “What the f*** were you thinking?!” has ever been helpful to de-escalate a situation.)
- No cutting each other off.
This is EXTREMELY difficult. But, we need to fully listen to what the other person says. Only then do you have grounds to ask them to fully listen to what you say.
- No referring to the past.
Of course you were wronged in the past. But you need to forgive and move on. Otherwise nothing will ever get resolved if you keep pulling out random stuff from yester-year. Stay in the present moment.
- No silent treatment.
If you cannot express yourself appropriately (see #1 and 2) in the moment and need to vow silence, lest you say something stupid, make a promise to come back to talk about what happened with in a 24 hour period. Preferably this would be before bed, but this is not always realistic.
- No physical aggression.
I wish I could say this is a no-brainer, but this is so critical and I have to say it. You NEVER have the right to harm someone. No matter what has been done (self-defense is different!).
I could include more, but would love to see what some of your rules an reactions are. Have you set up rules for your arguments? What are they and if not which do you think you could really use? Comment below!