9 Tweaks In The Way You Talk To Your Partner That'll Prevent Bickering
Arguments are an inevitable part of any relationship — and handled the right way, can actually make a couple stronger — but bickering tends to be more destructive and less productive. If you find that you and your significant other tend to squabble, you might want to try these tweaks that can help prevent constant bickering in a relationship. Everyone gets on each other's nerves from time to time, but you want to minimize the amount of quarreling as much as possible, because this may lead to bigger fights.
"Often, the smallest change in your behavior can yield the greatest results," relationship coach Fran Greene LCSWR tells Bustle. "You know what totally and completely infuriates and upsets your partner. Think about what changes you can make that will show your partner that you value them enough that you are willing to do things differently."
Hopefully, once you make some changes, your partner can follow suit — it's amazing how a little change in attitude can make a big difference when it comes to the happiness of your relationship.
If you tend to get into nasty fights with your partner that don't lead to any helpful changes, try some of these nine tweaks that can prevent bickering in your relationship.
1. Use "I" Instead Of "You"
"Frustrations and concerns in the relationship are best vocalized when you say something like, 'I felt hurt when you were short with me when you got home from work' as opposed to, 'You're so self-centered and never pay attention to me,'" relationship expert and psychotherapist Lena Derhally, MS, MA tells Bustle. Once you make your partner feel attacked or criticized they will either shut down or a fight will ensue.
2. Avoid Saying "You Don't Understand"
Try not to say to your partner, “you don't understand”. "That is alienating and can create friction, defensiveness, and bickering," psychologist Barbara Winter Ph.D PA tells Bustle. "If you hear that from your partner, say 'Then help me understand.' This helps you stop, pause, step back, and keep the connection, rather than turn away."
3. Know Your Triggers
"If you know there are certain things that annoy you about your partner and have the potential to set you off, address them head on," relationship strategist Dr. Venessa Marie Perry tells Bustle. "Do some self-reflection to determine why these things bother you and develop a plan to deal with them." It also could help to let your partner know what may upset you by once again using "I" instead of "you."
4. Walk Away And Come Back
Storming off is never the answer, but if you think you need to cool down, feel free to walk away — but let your partner know. "Get out of the house or away from the situation to clear your head and deal with it when you return," says Perry. "While you’re out, think about whether this is something that really requires a conversation. If not, let it go and if so approach it in a calm manner that uplifts the relationship."
5. Be Curious Instead Of Reactive
Often people don't mean to criticize their partner, but how they phrase something can make it come across that way. "Before you react defensively to something your partner has said to you, ask them some more questions, such as, 'I'm feeling criticized by you, is that what you meant to do? If not, could you explain to me what you want or need?'" says Derhally. "Approaching your partner with a spirit of loving curiosity instead of reactivity models the behavior you want to receive, and often people respond very favorably to that."
6. Pick Your Battles
Your partner will inevitably do things that you don't receive well — it’s part of what happens when two people become a couple. But rather than arguing every time your partner gets on your nerves, ignore the stuff that is no big deal to you. "Make a conscious choice about what issues really matter to you and focus on those," says Greene.
7. Regularly Show Appreciation
Positive energy is the antidote to negative energy. "No matter how long you have been together, express your appreciation and love on a daily basis," says Greene. "Say thanks for cleaning the snow off my car, or 'I love you more today than yesterday,' or 'I am so lucky to have you in my life.' The more valued you feel, the less likely you are to pick fights with each other."
8. Come Up With "Safe" Words
When you become frustrated or ready to snap at your partner, a good technique is to have a mutually-agreed-upon word that you say when tension starts to mount. "You could lovingly say 'Chill' and your partner would humorously respond 'Life goes on,'" says Greene. "As soon as you say your word and your partner responds, you both chuckle and the frustration disappears."
9. Apologize Sincerely
We all do things we wish we could take back, but you can take ownership and responsibility for something you have done that deserves an apology. "The more you demonstrate to your partner that you don’t have to be right and that the relationship is more important than your pride, the happier the both of you will be," says Greene.
While bickering may be difficult to avoid, with these few tweaks you can ensure that you and your partner will move past the tension quickly.