How to Argue With Your Partner Without Damaging Your Relationship
Navigating conflict can improve your marriage if handled right.
I’ve always hated conflict. When I was younger, I used to avoid people who hurt or wronged me, in the hope of having a conflict-free existence. Occasionally I’d dabble in a bit of passive-aggressivity when I had to interact with someone who’d upset me.
Of course, now I realize that avoidance and passive-aggressivity are immature behaviors. Worse, they can result in escalating or creating more conflict — the last thing someone who hates conflicts wants to do.
Still, conflict and disagreements are an inevitable part of life. You can’t avoid your partner, so that’s not an option. And over the long run, passive-aggressive behavior can destroy a relationship. So our only genuine option is to work through them.
If you “win”, then your partner “loses”, and do you really want to make your spouse into a loser? I hope not.
Over the years I’ve discovered some simple strategies that help me navigate disagreements and arguments with my husband and those I love (as well as those I love less) so I can regain my beloved peace, tranquility and conflict-free existence as soon as possible.
These tactics help if you are dealing with a reasonable, non-abusive person with whom arguments, and especially raising their voice, are an exception, not the norm. (If you are dealing with someone who routinely criticizes or verbally abuses you, reconsider the relationship or get couples counseling.)
These tactics work best if both partners use them, but you can definitely see improvements if you start leading by example.
1) The Person Who’s Most Upset Speaks First
This can be the hardest part if you hate conflict and you’re the one who’s upset. That desire to avoid can be mighty. But knowing that there is no under, over or around conflict means you must address it straight on. Even if you bury it, it will rise again. So, saddle up.