The best thing about arguments is that they're usually followed by some sort of resolution. And maybe makeup sex. But what about those common relationship arguments that you can't solve? The ones you keep fighting about over and over with no sense of resolution in sight? Those are the worst because they make you feel like you're just chasing your tail, and never catching it. If they go on long enough, they can signal the end of your relationship.
Luckily, most problems have solutions, especially the most common relationship arguments. Unfortunately, it's often not that the problem doesn't have a solution. It's that one partner is willing to do the work while another isn't. If that's the case, there's little you can do. If there's one thing I've learned as a Domestic Violence Victim Advocate and Planned Parenthood Certified Responsible Sexuality Educator, it's that you can't someone change. You can only tell the how you feel, compromise on a solution, then do your part. If you have a partner who is not doing the work required to compromise and solve problems, you might need to seek the help of a counselor, or find a partner who you're more compatible with.
But before we get there, let's first take a look at some common problems and their solutions. Because if you're in love, (and you're not in an abusive or unhealthy relationship) then I believe that's something worth trying to fix.
1. Your Partner Says Mean Stuff All The Time
Not that it's ever your fault when someone disrespects you in a relationship (because seriously, it's not) but have you set boundaries? Sometimes our partners treat us a certain way simply because we never told them (and they don't know) that we don't like it. Some people can call each other names lovingly and laugh, and not think twice about it. Some people get offended when you call them names. And hurt. If you need your partner to be sweet to you, and to not say mean things, you need to put up that boundary. You need to call them out on it as soon as the behavior happens and tell the you don't like it, and what to say instead. If they don't respect your boundaries, they don't deserve you. And "that's just how I am" or "that's just my personality" is not an acceptable reason to not respect your boundaries. Often times just putting up boundaries is enough to solve the problem.
2. You Don't Have Enough Money
Money is such a pain to talk about, but if you don't carefully plan, you'll constantly be talking about it, and not always in a good, nice way. The easiest way to solve this problem is to sit down, make a budget your both agree on, and stick to it. Find what works for you, whether it's spreadsheets, cash in envelopes, automatic bill pay, or cell phone tracking apps. Whatever it takes to account for all of your dollars. Once you do this, I promise a good deal of your money anxiety, and money arguments, will go away.
3. You Don't Spend Enough Time Together
If you're always arguing about not having quality time, I have an easy fix for you. I obviously can't buy you any more hours in the day, but I can give you some tips to make the hours you do have (or minutes) feel more meaningful. First of all, you need to put your phones away. Sitting together on the couch or in bed while you're both on your phones is ignoring each other in close proximity, not spending time together. Next, you need to do little things to make the moments you have together count. Ask about each other's days. Kiss and show affection. Really listen when the other is talking, and respond like you understand and care. Even if you can't, for whatever reason, carve out a date night, you always have a few minutes each day that you can use to really connect instead of just passing each other by.
4. You Hate Each Other's Friends
Word. I feel you. My wife has some pretty obnoxious friends, but I just don't talk to them. When I do have to talk to them, I'm polite and I try my best to have fun. Not because I'm two-faced, but out of respect for my partner. And because I have manners. No partner has the right to make you give up your friends, especially the ones that have been around longer than you have. But that doesn't mean you have to endure their foolishness either. Avoid them when you can, and hold your tongue when you can't avoid them. Don't talk trash about them to your partner. Expect your partner to do the same for you when it comes to your friends. It's the best you can ask for.
5. You Don't Do Equal Housework
There's nothing worse than feeling like a maid. Housework is a really common thing to squabble about. And often the arguments aren't about the chores, their about fairness, respecting each other's time, and equality. Trust me when I say that two people can have completely different concepts of "clean." I can think the house looks great, and therefore spend my free time painting my nails, while my more particular wife can feel frustrated by everything she sees that needs done. The best way to get past these kinds of impasses is to be clear about your expectations. Everyone needs a certain type of clean in order to feel comfortable and relax (even if your type is "not clean at all" and everyone deserves to be able to relax in their own homes. Communication is key, but so is compromise. A really neat partner might need to learn to live with a little bit of clutter, and a messier partner might have to work at being tidier. That's just part of the work of being in a relationship. If all else fails, assign duties so it's clear who needs to be doing what, and when. Can't disagree if it's in black and white on a chart.
Now that your relationship toolbox is filled with fixes to the more common relationship arguments, you're ready to roll up your sleeves and do the hard work of compromising and communicating until you get to a place you're both happy with. Because happiness is the goal, right? At least, most of the time, anyway.
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