Disagreements in relationships are normal. Everyone carries their own unique perspectives and emotions, and in healthy relationships, these differences are expressed and validated in a way that leaves everyone feeling respected and understood.
Unfortunately, not all relationships follow this pattern.
You may find yourself in a relationship in which arguing has become the norm. Rather than sharing thoughts and feelings in a respectful manner, you and your partner regularly yell, scream, insult each other, or even go full-on silent treatment.
What’s awful about this type of relationship dynamic is that even though you may both regret arguing, you feel powerless to stop the arguments from occurring. It seems that nothing you do stops the arguing, which makes you question whether you and your partner should be in a relationship at all.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to learn how to stop arguing with your partner.
When you take action and work to change the unhealthy dynamic, you give both yourself and your partner the chance to experience a more fulfilling connection and personal contentment.
Find out how to stop arguing with the people in your life with tactics you can use to prevent arguments from happening, deescalate arguments when they happen, and minimize the damage after an argument.
What to Do Before Before The Argument Starts
The best way to stop arguing with those you love is to stop an argument before it starts.
When you use communication skills and show empathy when a touchy subject comes up, you are more likely to remain respectful and constructive during the discussion, rather than end up feeling frustrated and unhappy. You reduce the likelihood of an argument by learning communication techniques, developing empathy, and practicing self-reflection.
Learn Communication Skills
One of the best steps you can take for your relationship is to learn effective communication techniques. Couples with poor communication skills may love each other very much, but fail to accurately communicate their needs, wants, and expectations. This leads to misunderstanding, resentment, and mistrust which are the driving forces behind most arguments.
To practice good communication you can:
- Refrain from using passive-aggressive communication
- Avoid using aggressive language
- Use precise, non-blaming language
- Actively listen rather than giving advice or defending yourself
- Mirror back what your partner said to ensure you understand
- Develop Empathy
Developing your sense of empathy goes a long way towards preventing arguments from occurring.
To have empathy means that you identify with or experience the feelings and thoughts of another person. Empathy is sometimes confused with compassion or sympathy.
While sympathy and compassion can be beneficial, they don’t elicit the same feelings as true empathy. When you develop a sense of empathy with your partner, they feel completely understood, validated, and supported.
To develop a sense of empathy, try starting outside of the relationship in less high-stakes settings.
You can talk to people who are different from you, read books about those with an “outsider” perspective, or even volunteer or donate money.
As you develop empathy with others, it will be easier to show empathy to your partner as well.
To stop arguments before they occur, try practicing self-reflection.
When you become self-reflective you are more likely to understand your own reasons for arguing. You are also more likely to look at how you go about arguing.
When you recognize these elements about yourself, you are able to change them. So, rather than getting into an argument, you can shift the conversation or put in place tools that you know will help both of you stay calm.
Self-reflection comes in many forms. One great way to practice self-reflection is journaling.
Journaling requires you to write your thoughts down and it helps you sort through your feelings and beliefs. It also gives you a written record that you can go back to in order to recognize patterns in your thinking.
This ultimately helps you understand yourself better, and leads to a more direct expression of feelings during a discussion with your partner.
How to Deescalate An Argument
Sometimes arguments happen, even when we do our best to show empathy and use good communication tools.
In this situation, there are tactics that you can use during an argument to prevent from escalating into a full-blown fight.
Avoid Blaming Language
During an argument, avoid using language that places the blame on your partner.
Stay away from “you” statements and instead, start your sentences with “I feel” instead.
Avoid using black and white language as well. Telling your partner that they always or never do something is not only false, but it also creates defensiveness during the argument.
When you avoid blaming language, you remove much of the defensiveness that escalates arguments between couples.
Also, avoid passive-aggressive behaviors. Making snide comments, pouting, and ignoring your partner can be another way to shift blame onto them and take on a victim role, rather than speaking up for what you need and expect directly.
Another tactic to use to diffuse an argument is to take responsibility for your words, actions, and behavior.
If you catch yourself using blaming language or calling your partner unkind names, stop yourself and apologize in the moment.
Make it known that you recognize that your actions caused harm and that you understand how they were hurtful. When you do this during an argument, you are likely to stop it from escalating further.
Stick to the Issue
Many couples who argue find themselves arguing about one thing only to end up arguing about a different issue or incident. Do your part to keep the discussion on track and don’t bring up arguments from the past.
Don’t bring up actions that you or your partner have done in the past either.
Continue communicating about the specific issue at hand, and if you discover that a past issue needs to be addressed, tell your partner that you can set aside another time to discuss that issue.
Be a Team Player
Steve Maraboli said, “Let’s not forget it’s you and me vs. the problem, not you vs. me”.
When arguing, try to keep these words of wisdom in mind. As a couple, nobody wins when you argue.
Try to approach the discussion with the idea that your partner is your teammate and you are both trying to find a solution for the issue.
When you act and speak from this perspective, you can shift the argument and end up partnering with your partner instead of going up against them.
After The Argument: How to Minimize the Damage
When an argument occurs despite your best intentions, it is important to take the right steps afterward to minimize emotional damage.
Often, couples who argue don’t revisit the issue that caused an argument, nor do they talk about how the argument occurred; instead, it is pushed under the rug only to resurface during the next blow-up.
When you apologize and ask what your partner needs, you decrease emotional fallout.
Apologize With Intention
When you have both calmed down, go to your partner and apologize for the argument in a sincere, intentional way. Apologize for hurting them. Also, apologize for any words or actions that were especially unkind. Apologize without an expectation that they will “forgive” you at that moment.
Ask What Your Partner Needs
Make a point of asking what your partner needs after an argument.
- Do they need space to think?
- Do they need physical affection?
- Do they need a resolution to a specific issue?
Asking what they need shows you care and can make up for some of the emotional damage done during the heated argument.
While these techniques are helpful in relationships in which arguing is caused by poor communication skills, it is vital to point out that in some relationships there may be an abusive dynamic that should be addressed.
There is a difference between arguing with someone who uses manipulative tactics to make you feel unworthy, versus a partner who is frustrated, situationally unkind, or unable to express their needs.
If you put in the work to change the unhealthy dynamic and your partner refuses to change with you, you may be in an abusive relationship.
If your partner demonstrates narcissistic personality traits, physically, mentally, or sexually abuses you, or shows a lack of willingness to change when you’ve put in the work, it is important not to take the blame on yourself and to seek professional counseling to determine if it is in your best interests to stay in the relationship.
Make the First Move
If the amount of arguing in your relationship is affecting your ability to connect with your partner, there are ways to change the dynamic.
When you learn helpful communication skills and implement “fair fighting” techniques during a disagreement, you begin to improve the communication between you and your partner.
Don’t be afraid to make the first move in changing an unhealthy arguing dynamic in your relationship. The results are worth it.