Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Disagreeing well

I hate fighting/arguing with Eric. I know some people who say they've never had a fight with their husband/significant other. I find that truly hard to believe, and more importantly, if that is true, I wonder what the depths of their relationship are truly like. Of course I don't think couples should fight a lot - they definitely should be rare. But they happen. When two people live so closely together and know each other so intimately disagreements are inevitable. They are a healthy piece of any relationship. If you never fight or argue over something, you don't know how your partner will respond in that situation, therefore you don't completely know them.

No matter what it is we argue over, in the end when we've kissed and made up, I feel so much closer to Eric. Just knowing someone is willing to go through that with you... to voice their feelings and emotions on a subject they feel strongly about... and yet come to a compromise equal for both sides... proves he is very passionate about me and our relationship. It gives me confidence to know that we can work through anything... together.

I am working on not being so stubborn in our arguments. I tend to react very strongly when I feel someone is "telling me what to do" or proving me wrong. Of course that stems from issues with my parents and how I was raised (controlling), but I am aware of it and actively working on that issue. I hate knowing my stubbornness hurts Eric and makes our arguments even longer than they need to be. I found this article on MSNBC, which sums up why arguing can be healthy in a marriage. I agree with every point, and can say I have definitely experienced the full affect of what happens after a healthy argument.

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Why arguments can be healthy for a marriage
Airing your differences can be a route to greater intimacy, says Dr. Gail Saltz. Here’s how to turn a fight into a win-win outcome.

Disagreeing well, which often takes the form of an argument, is an important part of a good relationship. Because your husband is not your clone, your opinions will sometimes differ. How you negotiate those differences is predictive of how healthy a relationship you will have. Arguing well can even result in further intimacy because it shows both of you that you can disagree yet find a way to compromise and still love each other.

But arguing well is a skill that takes time to build. Here are some suggestions:

Don't insist on being right. It's not about right or wrong. There are two sides to every story. The point is to find a position both of you can accept.

Speak up as soon as you feel anger rising. Don’t wait until you are fuming — the longer you stew on things, the harder it is to resolve a disagreement.

Listen. Nothing is more frustrating than the feeling you are not being heard. Repeating what your spouse says and making him feel understood can really help to diffuse anger.

Stick to the topic at hand. Couples tend to start fighting about specific topics and move on to every single thing that makes them mad. Pulling out old hurts and infractions will only fuel the fire.

Don't say something you will regret. If, in your rage, you fear you might say something you will later feel bad about, that’s a good time to call a time out — a short break to blow off steam. Go for a jog, take a bath, walk the dog. Return more clearly to the topic afterward.

In general, it is better to find some kind of resolution to an argument than to walk out in a huff. This can even be an agreement to disagree and to revisit the subject later.

Dr. Gail's Bottom Line: Disagreements in a marriage are necessary and healthy, but arguing well includes finishing your disputes in a constructive way.

1 comment:

  1. When Joe and I were dating, I asked him how he usually responded when he was angry. His response was, "I don't ever get angry." I knew that wasn't true--but that's how distorted his view on anger was. He would just stuff it and not even acknowledge it to himself. It took me a long time (even after we were married) to start to recognize the subtle signs that marked his anger or frustration.

    We are both "silent treatment" people. We shut down and refuse to talk when we're angry. It didn't take long for us to realize that this was not going to work if we wanted to grow in our relationship and resolve things.

    So now we're learning to "break the silence" and start talking about the problem. Joe's loosened up a lot and will openly show that he is upset about something.

    Neither of us are yellers---but I cry almost the entire time we're arguing.

    I liked that article--and I agree with you on feeling so much closer to my husband every time we work through something difficult together. People who gloss over everything and never argue are in LaLa Land!!

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