Arguments can be upsetting and exhausting for everyone. However there are a few ways that you can try and resolve difficulties before they turn into argument.
- Have a safe word. If you notice that your discussion is becoming heated, agree to have a safe word that you can say to get ‘Time Out’. It can be anything you want, but try to choose a neutral and silly phrase like “sausages” or “Kermit the Frog” which tends to de-escalate things. Use this time to separate into different rooms, or for one of you to go for walk outside.
- Change your language. If you’re angry about your partner’s behaviour, try to focus on how you feel about it. Explaining your feelings and the way that their behaviour has affected you, is more likely to be listened to. Accusations such as “you’re always having a go at me” or “All you do is work and you never want to spend time with me” are unlikely to elicit a supportive response. Instead you could say “when you criticise me, it makes me feel anxious and upset” or “I feel lonely in our relationship sometimes”
- Make a list. If you need to have a difficult conversation, make a list of a few key points that you want to talk about. That way, you are less likely to get swept away with emotions and can focus on what the main issues are for you.
- Go to public places. If you find yourself arguing more at home, try meeting in a pub or cafe to have difficult conversations. You’re more likely to stay calm and rational if you are aware of other people around you.
- Be kind to your relationship. Everyone argues! It’s a normal part of a relationship. Don’t beat yourself up for getting emotional and angry sometimes- it’s important that you express your feelings honestly to your partner, rather than avoiding confrontation. However it’s important to find the balance between asserting yourself and aggression. Be kind to your relationship and try to only argue about the things which you feel give your relationship the best chance of survival in the long run. These may include arguments about the division of childcare, control of finances or feeling disrespected. The smaller things aren’t always worth the fight.