9 Unexpected Things You Probably Shouldn't Do During An Argument With Your Partner If You Want To Stay Together
Even if you love the person you're with, arguments with your partner may get heated quickly. Most of us know what fighting habits to avoid in relationships, but there are a number of other unexpected things you should never do in an argument, especially if you want to stay together with your partner. When arguing with someone, you never want to intentionally hurt your loved one or let the conversation spiral out of control.
"Believe it or not, relationship disagreements are not a bad thing," psychologist and relationship expert Robert Weiss, LCSW, CSAT-S tells Bustle. "Arguments with your partner can evolve into deeper relationship intimacy. In fact, the desire to occasionally argue is a strong indication that you and your partner care about each other and your life together. The trick, of course, is learning to resolve your conflicts healthfully, in ways that strengthen rather than diminish your relationship." When it comes to arguing, there is a healthy and constructive way to go about it that will ultimately help your relationship grow says Weiss. But arguments that are unproductive or potentially hurtful will not serve this purpose.
To make sure your conflicts with your partner end up helping your relationship you may want to stay away from these nine things during your arguments.
1. Compare Them To Someone Else
When expressing your points, you may not want to bring other people into a fight or compare your partner to someone else you know. "It’s unproductive and will derail the argument," therapist and relationship expert Sarah E. Clark, LMFT, LMHC, CVRT tells Bustle. "When people don’t know what else to say or want to win a fight at all costs, they will usually say something like, 'You are acting like your mother/father.' This almost always makes anything else said afterwards unable to be heard."
2. Storm Off
Bolting off from a conversation might give a dramatic effect, but it's not going to do any good for resolving a conflict. "You should never simply stop engaging, sit quietly without responding, or storm off when fighting," says Clark. "Those behaviors start a very unhealthy pattern within the relationship that is hard to get out of without intervention." Sometimes, it can be a good idea to take a break from an argument when it has become overwhelming or unproductive. But in these situations, you both may want to decide to take a break and restart the discussion later for that method to be effective.
3. Give An Ultimatum
It might seem tempting, but giving an ultimatum or threatening to leave your partner is a definite no-no in an argument — especially if that's not what you want. "Once you begin to communicate the potential for you to leave your partner, they may not feel as though the relationship is safe," therapist Dr. Kia James, LCPC tells Bustle. "The ultimatum will erode the trust in the relationship, and it can cause more conflict and problems." This may potentially end things, James says.
4. Exhibit Certain Body Language
It's important to not only pay attention to your message, but how you deliver it. This means watching what your body is saying during a fight. "If you catch yourself rolling your eyes, folding your arms across your chest, or turning away during arguments, you should start working to change those habits," says Clark. "Those are all signs of disrespect and disengagement."
5. Insist The Issue Be Resolved Right Away
Some arguments are too heated, complicated, or delicate to be resolved quickly and easily, and they shouldn't be forced. "One thing I recommend to clients is limiting discussions of heated topics to 20 minutes," says Weiss. "A timer can be used if either partner wishes it. When the time is up, if the conflict is not resolved, you can agree to either continue the conversation for another 20 minutes, or to schedule a later time to complete the conversation."
6. Bring Up Other Topics
"Many arguments go off the rails because neither partner knows what the argument is about, or one of the partners won’t stay on topic," says Weiss. "When you and your partner discuss a difficult issue, it is best to identify the issue that needs to be discussed and to keep the conversation about that issue only." Even though the conversation may trigger a core issue or something from your past, it's best to agree to differentiate between the present and the past as best you can.
7. Reference Their Upbringing
"Refrain from making negative statements about your partner’s upbringing or family members during a disagreement or an argument," says James. "When you imply that your partner’s upbringing or childhood is the root of the current argument, your partner may become defensive." Plus, when the argument is over, your partner may continue to believe you harbor negative feelings towards their family.
8. Tell Your Partner How They Should Feel
Avoid telling your partner that they do not or should not feel a certain way. "If your partner tells you that you hurt them, disregarding their feelings can make them feel like you are telling them that their feelings are inaccurate," says James. "For them, the conversation becomes frustrating. In addition, expressing their feelings becomes pointless."
9. Speak Sarcastically
You're better off being straightforward then using sarcasm if you want to be taken seriously. "When we make sarcastic phrases, we give two messages at the same time," therapist Carrie Krawiec, LMFT tells Bustle. "One is what we mean, and the other is to be mean. Sometimes our partner gets one message and misses the other. Sometimes they miss both which just leads to more hurt and misunderstanding, so we just get more salty the next time we deliver the message. Usually sarcasm never actually translates into us getting what we want."
Learning to argue productively with your partner might seem difficult, but if you can refrain from these mistakes, you'll improve your relationship with these discussions in the long run.