First of all, we need to clarify something important: arguing is part of every committed relationship! The question is whether you are arguing skillfully or to the detriment of your relationship.
Depending on your personal history you might have different views on arguing. If your parents had loud and potentially fear-inducing arguments it would be obvious to expect that you either have adverse reactions to arguing or re-play them in your current relationship because you think that is the way it is done. Both of those options are reactions as opposed to chosen responses.
If your parents did not argue at all and things were often left unsaid you might have come to follow that as ‘the right way’ to interact with your partner. Either way, spend some time thinking about your role-models, whether these are your parents or other important figures in your life.
Arguing skillfully can be learnt, so no matter what your track record shows, you have a chance. Let’s have a look at how we can use various skills to facilitate compromise in an argument.
Tip #1: Listen
In any conversation, whether it will turn into an argument or not, listening is of utmost importance. Practice listening by feeding back what you have heard, without adding your own interpretations. You will find that your partner immediately feels more validated and understood, even though you have not offered any advice, solutions or opinion.
Tip #2: Ask rather than assume
Often we forget to ask for clarification because we come to our own conclusion about what the other person means. Assuming can make an argument toxic and often leads to misunderstandings. Practice asking open-ended questions, which are questions that require a full sentence answer as opposed to a yes or no answer.
Tip #3: Agree to disagree
I can promise that in any important relationship sooner or later you will encounter different opinions on various topics. This is where we are challenged in our need to be one with, same or similar to our partner. Practice agreeing with the person’s right to have an opinion, but not necessarily with the content of the opinion. You are allowed to have your own point-of-view which might differ from your parents, partner, children and friends!
Tip #4: Compromise
Compromise is also part of any relationship, just like arguments. Once you have stated your own opinion it is still possible that each of you can in turn compromise and meet your partner either half-way or in some occasions on their side. Some compromises will not mean ‘meet me half way’ but ‘this time we will do it your way and next time we might do it my way’!
Tip #5: Be flexible, be clear
Ask yourself whether this is a truly important issue for you or whether you just want to make a point. Practice being flexible if you know tend to be rigid in your opinion, be clear and strong if you know yourself to more often sway to what others suggest.
Allow your partner to grow with you in your relationship. Your ability to compromise will in the end support your connection and intimacy with your mate.
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