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Secret Emotional Pay-Offs in Arguments

Updated on September 30, 2018
ValKaras profile image

Val is a life-long practically oriented student of effective emotional and attitudinal responses to the many challenges of life.

Not About "What" Is Right---but "Who" Is Right
Not About "What" Is Right---but "Who" Is Right

Disagreements - Not Arguments

There is one basic difference between disagreements and arguments: when we disagree, it is important "what" is right, and in arguments it matters much more "who" is right. So it follows that disagreements have (or should have) objectivity for a motive, and arguments have an emotion.

People may disagree for a variety of reasons, mainly because of a different opinion or taste. Once when that disagreement becomes obvious enough, either a compromise is in order, or a complete drop of the issue, with acceptance of each other's right to have an opinion or taste. As the old Latin proverb goes: "De Gustibus Non Disputabant Est" (tastes are not to be discussed).

Persisting with one's own point of view always calls for a new proof, rather than a waste of time and words on paraphrasing of something that has already been said. Just before we have reached the point of perpetuating the same over and over and possibly turn it into an argument, it's prudent to simply change the subject upon realization that we have never moved from the square one.

When It Becomes a Matter of  "WHO" Is Right  -  Any Discussion Turns into a Two-Way Nonsense
When It Becomes a Matter of "WHO" Is Right - Any Discussion Turns into a Two-Way Nonsense

Disagreements Turning into Arguments

That makes disagreements an innocent, sometimes interesting feature of interaction between people, and they are quite normal considering individual differences between all of us. It would actually be quite strange if people agreed over everything. It's only when disagreements escalate into arguments that they become troublesome for relationship.

There are all kinds of reasons why folks become emotionally wound up over disagreeing, making it anything from a stubborn pushing their point of view to ridiculing the opponent's competence in the matter, name calling, and insults.

Even the famous Roman orator is quoted as saying to his disciples: "When you run out of healthy arguments---insult your opponent". Whether he said it while in a joking mood or not, I don't know, but people have been using it a lot over the millennia, without necessarily having studied Roman culture.

The Underlying Emotional Charge of Diplomatic Arguments is Not much Different than "My Dad Is Stronger than Your Dad"
The Underlying Emotional Charge of Diplomatic Arguments is Not much Different than "My Dad Is Stronger than Your Dad"

Arguments "in White Gloves"

There are those intellectual disagreements that are called "debates" which is just another word for an "argument diplomatic style". Providing an example of an extreme, the presidential election of 2016 which will forever remain an atypical example of diplomatic exchange with all those insults---most of such debates have no intention to find a "middle ground", but to push their own views right from the start to the very end.

Again, the objective of such diplomatic arguments---called debates--- is not to find out "what" is right", but "who" is right, and it's always propelled by political or academic careerism. What usually bothers an objective listener is the fact that both sides may sound quite logical.

Indeed, logic may be used in different directions during an argument, whether between spouses, friends, scientists, or politicians, and it only depends on the perspective of viewing at the issue at hand.

To use a classical example of that familiar definition of the difference between an optimist and a pessimist---one sees a glass half-full, and the other sees it half-empty, while logically they are both right.

That tailoring of logic for the purposes of being right in arguments is what oftentimes makes them so persistent, with no side giving up. Of course, we are not talking here about those arguments that have no other theme but a hot exchange of empty accusations and insults. Those are out of the scope of this article, because they are basically a nonsensical discharge of emotions.

Wouldn't It Be Great if Could Set the Time for Each Disagreement, to Prevent It's Turning into an Argument?
Wouldn't It Be Great if Could Set the Time for Each Disagreement, to Prevent It's Turning into an Argument?

A Sheer Waste of Time

From the logical perspective of wisdom spiced with some humor, arguments are always pointless waste of time, and the opponents might as well just keep calling each other derogatory names, without bothering to attach a subject to it to prove each other wrong.

Now, there are those primary and secondary causes for an argument. The primary one is that ulterior origin of the whole emotional charge hiding behind that apparent struggle of wills. It could be anything from the negative repertoire of emotions---like an old grudge, a blame, an intolerance, a jealousy, a spiteful and rebellious nature, or simply a bad mood that's looking for its outlet for discharge.

The secondary cause is that chosen outlet, which doesn't really matter at all, because when there is a primary cause eager to express itself, anything at all may serve as the secondary one. When you listen to such arguing, how often you can't believe your ears that a crazy and totally unimportant thing could have started it. It's always something behind it that "justifies" such a hot exchange.

In a sense, arguments are nothing but a socially acceptable forms of violence. With all intensities possible it is actually a verbal violence. A negative emotion dictates to the mind to find an outside reason, and the mind is catering to that need---it is not the other way around that first an issue would come up and then there would be an argument.

Remember, any issue could always stop at disagreement or a fair discussion that looks for a compromising solution. So it has to be something behind to give the whole motoric to arguing.

Arguments Don't Offer a Win-Win Outcome, It's All a Bad Emotional Investment into Relationship
Arguments Don't Offer a Win-Win Outcome, It's All a Bad Emotional Investment into Relationship

A Dark Marital Pastime

Primary and secondary causes of arguments are particularly obvious at some married couples. When there is a strong underlying emotional issue in one or both partners, it regularly seeks its expression in a struggle for a status of more importance in relationship.

Once that a primary cause gets ignited, it doesn't matter what concrete trigger may come handy for starting an argument. After a while, neither of them can tell "who started" that kicking the verbal crap back and forth, and it doesn't even matter anymore as they both love that chance to unload their emotional burden onto each other.

For such a couple the primary cause doesn't have to always be that old, never resolved grudge, or interfering family, or that mentioned fight for an "upper hand" in calling the shots, It could be just about anything, like a bad day at work, or an idiot on the road who almost caused an accident, or something in the news. They simply need to use each other for an emotional dumpster, and they will keep doing it because emotional discharging feels good.

Well, it also feels bad, and we might almost call it a sort of "masochism-in-duet", while they also care for each other, and those two emotions of anger and love must make them wonder from time to time. In some rare moments of clarity they might even make some resolutions---how about a "new year's resolution" (from year to year), to try having a more peaceful relationship.

But the truce usually doesn't last long. Why? Because now they got addicted to their arguing.

As a Metaphor  -  that's what a Record of Marital Arguments Looks Like
As a Metaphor - that's what a Record of Marital Arguments Looks Like

Addicted to Arguments?

Well, judging by the statistics of dysfunctional families and divorces, it doesn't come so hard to believe that the cause of those persisting arguments is an emotional addiction. There is no chance that you could take it away from them, once when the dark passion gets in its high gear.

They wouldn't know how to learn a new way of interacting with each other, since they are not emotionally equipped to replace arguments with something else in their emotional repertoire which would make more sense.

I remember witnessing a case of a couple whose almost daily arguments and even altercations must have had a certain sexual motoric behind it. After seeing that, I am quite tempted to assume that many, if not all marital arguments could mean a "converted" (please note I didn't say "perverted") outlet for an overload of sexual energy.

Maybe Sigmund Freud or Wilhelm Reich would agree with me without hesitation, as those two scientists were deeply into the role of sexual energy ("libido" and "orgon") in just about anything emotional. Well, who could really tell why couples argue with such a passion---no pun intended, but it certainly does resemble an addiction.

It Doesn't Matter what We Point at the Opponent  -  Intentions Are always the Same
It Doesn't Matter what We Point at the Opponent - Intentions Are always the Same

A "Classy" Marital Argument

Some of those arguing couples may actually seek a help from a professional who may help them up to a point---or he may just furnish their arguments with more fancy style of arguing.

Namely, now that they are armed with that "scientific material", they don't have to use their usual name calling and repeating their old resentments---they can "upgrade" it with this new "insight" into their respective issues.

So, the new marital artillery may sound something like this: "Stop treating me like I am your mother who never expressed any warmth towards you!" ; "Hey, I am not your father who never showed up at your violin presentation!" ; "Don't you dare dump on me your insecurities!' ; "You know that coffee makes you irritable, so how many have you had today?!"

You see what I mean? Arguments are bound to continue for as long as one, or both are not realizing that the issues are calling for a rational approach, not for an emotional discharge of something that has no direct connection with those issues.

I am sorry for having to say that, but it also has a lot to do with people's intelligence. When emotionalism is strong enough to contaminate rationality in a person, then it's almost hopeless, and we could freely say that the person is not "intellectually fit" for marriage.

Indeed, we can't run our show with nerves, living together has to make some sense, and we are the ones who are supposed to make it. Whether it's a crude emotional exchange or a more classy one---it ultimately makes no difference.

Opening Your Heart Goes a Long Way
Opening Your Heart Goes a Long Way

But then - Some Really Want Peace

Not every couple is doomed to persist with that dark arguing passion indefinitely. In every marriage there is a "period of adjustment", and depending on personalities and their tempers, with some it may take a little longer than with some others. But that's what it is in their case---just a little bumpy period of adjustment.

As love and values overpower all that, and both start realizing what they have been doing, maybe a few of the following ideas may come handy for them to consider while their marriage is on its way to recovery.

The best way is just to sit down and open your hearts to each other---say what the other is doing that is hurting you, and ask what you are doing that's hurting them. Promise to each other to stop doing it, then stick to that promise as best as you can, always with an apology ready when you slip back a little.

Another good idea would be to accentuate all those things that you have in common, like hobbies, interests. Revive some of those things that you used to do while the relationship was smooth, probably all the way back in your dating times.

Avoid competing games, where you will play opponents to each other; at least for as long as the memories of arguments are still fresh. Place some photos of the two of you together at spots in your home where they will be visible, or even enlarge some and frame them. They will always be a symbolizing reminder of what good you have going together.

Breaking the arguing habit is not only gratifying as a healthier form of marital interacting, but is also so much better for your health. Your bodies with thank you. Your whole life will thank you.


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    • ValKaras profile imageAUTHOR

      Vladimir Karas 

      3 years ago from Canada

      Thank you for such a friendly comment, Michael. However, everyone is their own teacher, and I am just reminding them of something that deep down they already know. And if they succeed, they deserve the applause, as they did all that work, not me.

    • profile image

      Michael Milec 

      3 years ago

      Wow Vladimire. This is awesome.

      Are you in teaching position? Is anyone listening to you, applying principles, and coming back with report ' it works'?!

      Great stuff indeed.


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