How To Handle Relationship Arguments Successfully, According To An Expert
Like many important things in life, relationships don't come with a rule book on how to do things right. (After all, wouldn't everyone appreciate a few tips for steering clear of common ways to ruin a relationship?) One oversight most couples don't even consider, for example, is how to best communicate during a fight (aka conflict resolution in relationships). Learning how to effectively work out issues with your partner can help you both grow stronger and healthier, while building a happier and more meaningful relationship.
Nicole DiRocco, the relationship coach behind Dating With Grace, suggests that the most common thing married couples fight about are money and sex, while in new dating relationships, couples mainly quarrel about not being heard or understood. "In new relationships, you obviously don't know each other as well as in mature relationships," she says. "If you don't understand each other's specific communication styles, how can you effectively communicate?"
Luckily, this common oversight can be fixed with the help of some useful tips from DiRocco — who believes in the power of understanding what the different love languages are. Then, it's important to know how to utilize them to you and your partner's full advantage. Never come into a conversation using language that sounds like an attack or an accusation. "This is the worst way for couples to communicate," DiRocco said. Read on for DiRocco's advice on understanding how to get to the other side of the argument in a healthy, effective way.
1. Understand Each Other's Love Languages — And Utilize Them
According to DiRocco, the biggest thing that keeps couples from effective communication is truly understanding the others' love language. To identify your own love language and your S.O.'s, she suggests reading the No. 1 New York Times best seller, Gary Chapman's The Five Love Languages . The book illuminates ways to create deeper and richer levels of intimacy between any couple, so make it a priority for you and your partner to read through this book together. After reading, you can have a conversation about what you each respond best to: gifts, physical touch, quality time, words of affirmation, or acts of service.
DiRocco argues that showing your partner love and appreciation by way of their specific language, rather than your own, "makes a huge difference" for couples in understanding each other's communication style. So, does your S.O. feel most appreciated when you bring home flowers or candy? Make picking up little treats and surprises a priority. If your partner needs words of affirmation to feel loved and encouraged, remember to send them little texts throughout the day telling them you're thinking of them on your lunch break, or that you're proud of them for landing a new client. This will transfer over to your disagreements because you'll both be able to identify where there are problems and how to best solve them to meet each other's unique needs.
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2. Know When To Remove Yourself From An Argument
DiRocco suggests that knowing when to walk away from an argument is the best way to save you and your partner from hurting each other, and ultimately, sabotaging your happiness down the line. "When one person starts having a physical reaction, like a sinking stomach or racing heart, it's time for the person to take responsibility for needing time to walk away and process their feelings." So, the next time you and your S.O. are having an argument that gets heated, communicate your need to walk away from the conflict for a specific amount of time. Take that time to yourself to think everything over, and calm down before you can continue working through the issue. Later on, this will help you both to have a conversation that stays on track, focused, and productive — rather than one that turns quickly out of control.
This couples' no-stress guide will help you and partner to keep your relationship intimate, joyful, and stress-free, while you maintain your special, loving connection. It gives helpful tips like "forgetting to keep score" and "appreciating the benefit of the doubt" that you both will understand and easily relate to. One user gave this read five stars for giving helpful tips and ideas on how to "let things go and make things work in a relationship."
(Psst! Check out this title now on the free Kindle app.)
3. Set Up A Conversation, And Stick To It
After the Fight , $41, Amazon
Sometimes the hardest part about effective communication is actually setting aside time to have a solid conversation. This can be further complicated if you and your partner tend to approach communication in different ways, DiRocco says. She suggests being upfront about letting your partner know you want to discuss the issue, and making sure they're keenly aware of your intentions.
After the Fight , written by Daniel B. Wile, is an analysis of a single night in the life of a couple. Through analyzing them, he discovers what starts and escalates fights, as well as what can potentially turn into a useful conversation about a fight. This read will help you understand how to turn an argument with your S.O. into a positive learning and growing experience for both of you, which will ultimately strengthen your relationship's intimacy.
When it comes to learning how to communicate better with a partner of the opposite sex, this helpful communication guide book, written by Dr. John Gray, provides a practical way for men and women to improve communication. It breaks down some differences between their different needs and behaviors. The author offers a simple solution to relationships bogged down by poor communication: Couples must acknowledge and accept their differences before they can develop happier relationships. Users give this book top ratings because "Gray writes patiently and simply but not simplistically, supported by a huge pool of real-life examples from his own therapy sessions..."
(Psst! Listen to this title on Audible on a free 30-day trial).
4. Always Use Non-Accusatory Language
What's the worst way to communicate in a relationship? "Attacking," says DiRocco. "'You did this' language is never good, so instead, you must use "I" statements," she said. The next time you and your partner sit down to talk about whatever issue is bothering you, try telling your S.O, "I feel this way," or "what I feel that I need is this." This type of open, loving, and understanding communication doesn't make anyone feel cornered, pressured, or defensive. This will lead to less distance and bickering and to more effective conversation about what has been going on between the two of you, and how you can both work to fix it.
Communication Miracles for Couples , by best-selling author and psychotherapist, Jonathon Robinson, teaches couples to communicate with less blame and more understanding. When reading through it together, you and your boo will gain insight into vital topics. How to really listen to each other, how to repair any broken trust between the two of you, and the secret to what Robinson calls "The Acknowledgement Formula" are all included. One user gave this book top ratings as being "the best couples' communication book" he's ever read because it offered him and his wife to ability to "communicate effectively and get past egos to get things accomplished and move on to the fun parts of life...instead of just fighting over respective positions on subjects."
5. Voice What You Want Or Need From Your S.O. — And Be Specific
Have you and your S.O. ever become frustrated with each other after being disappointed that a need wasn't met? Maybe your partner didn't pick up the slack when you were hurtling through your busiest week of the year; or maybe you haven't asked your partner about their soccer games because you didn't think they were that important. When you feel like that other person in your relationship is slacking, don't let things quietly fester and build up silently, DiRocco advises. Instead, she suggests voicing your specific concerns. "By saying to your partner 'I need X', letting them know what they will be providing, like 'by you doing X, it will give me extra time to do Y'— and being specific about what that all looks like — you'll see great results in effective communication."
In this book about toxic thought patterns that hurt relationships (like jumping to conclusions and playing the blame game), psychologist Jeffrey Bernstein discusses the sabotaging thought patterns present in almost every relationship. He proves to couples that these negative and exaggerated thoughts can send their love spiraling downwards. "As humans, we like to make up stories in our minds," DiRocco says, "so you have to know." By reading this book, you can get a better grasp on how to flip silent thoughts into effective conversations with each other, in order to figure out what is really at the bottom of any conflict.
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