Relationship Rules For Arguing
Disagreements and Arguments are a normal part of any personal relationship. When two people spend large amounts of time together, they will inevitably disagree and maybe even frazzle each other’s nerves a little bit.
Many arguments serve as a pathway to learning more about your spouse and bringing the two of you closer together which is great.
Other arguments can break down the foundation of a relationship and eventually destroy it, leaving many hurt feelings and innocent victims in its wake.
The difference between the two outcomes stems from the arguing itself. There are rules to fighting and when the rules are broken, irreparable damage can be done.
Fighting With A Purpose
Disagreements or fighting should have a purpose.
When there is an important issue that a couple doesn’t agree on and a resolution is the goal of both people, sometimes emotions can run high before a compromise is found.
This process can help to create a deeper understanding of each other’s views and feelings so future arguments on that topic can be avoided.
However, if one person is just venting rage on the other because it makes them feel better in the moment to release it, more arguing and insecurities in the relationship are sure to come.
Rules To Fighting
6 basic rules to fighting with a purpose are:
- No name calling
- No character assassinations
- Stay on topic
- No ultimatums
- No emotional blackmail
- Say what you mean, mean what you say
Name Calling and Character Assasinations
Calling someone an idiot or using curse words in a disagreement are a sign that the argument is over. The emotions are two high and any rational thought is gone by that point. No resolution is going to come out of that argument, only hurt feelings and eventually guilt.
When one or both people call the other person degrading names or insult the others intelligence etc., they are only attacking their spouse personally and the issue that got everyone upset in the beginning has gotten lost.
Being upset about the other person’s actions or words does not warrant an attack on who they are as a person. Works leave invisible marks on the people who hear them.
Encouraging words can change someone’s whole world for the better and demeaning words can scar them with pain and insecurities.
Apologies and regret can’t ever erase the damage caused by a personal attack.
Stay On Topic
When two people are fighting about a certain topic or issue, it is important to focus on only that issue until it’s resolved.
That is not the time to bring up something that happened last week or in a previous argument. It is certainly not fair to hold a grievance in reserve so you have ammunition the next time your spouse gets upset about something.
If the husband gets angry because his wife spent $300 on a purse, she shouldn’t respond with, “you went to the batting cages with your buddies last week and you should have known I didn’t want you to go!”
Those are two separate issues that should be resolved one at a time.
If both people just start shouting grievances that have been festering, nothing will ever get accomplished.
When ultimatums are thrown out during an argument, it is a challenge of power. When tempers are hot and emotions are high, those challenges will be accepted with vigor.
If there really is a certain behavior that one spouse wants their partner to refrain from, an ultimatum is definitely not the way to make that a reality.
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Withholding attention or approval because your spouse is or is not doing something you want them to do is emotional blackmail. This is not only unfair, it’s manipulative and mean.
When an argument is over and a compromise has been reached, it should be done.
Giving the other person the silent treatment or cold shoulder will just create a gap in the relationship that can be hard to overcome.
Emotional blackmail will also discourage the other person from communicating openly in the future so problems won’t get dealt with and resentment and discontent will be the result.
Say What You Mean
Passive aggressive remarks and comments have no place in a grown up relationship.
There is no doubt that it can be extremely difficult to blatantly say what you’re thinking sometimes or say No when your spouse or partner asks if something is ok with you.
This is especially hard for insecure or non-confrontational people. The fear is, if they say how they are truly feeling, it might make the other person angry or they may feel like they are being selfish.
It may seem easier to throw out a passive aggressive remark and hope the other person gets the hint. Unfortunately, when that type of response is given, there is too much room for confusion and more unmet expectations. There is a good chance that you will find yourself in an argument and the other person isn’t even sure what you’re arguing about.
A man invites his co-workers over for dinner again and asks if his wife minds. She says, “Of course not, I love cooking for all of your friends and entertaining them all night” in a sarcastic tone. When everyone leaves and the couple is alone, the wife is clearly irritated so her husband asks what is wrong and of course she says “nothing”.
The confusion sets in because her husband now assumes his wife is upset with one of his co-workers while she is actually angry with him for not realizing that she didn’t want company that evening because she had a long day herself.
Each spouse is unhappy and confused and the real issue is never addressed or resolved so it will be repeated.
It is important to be true to yourself and your feelings. Remember that your spouse is your partner in this crazy world and will be on your side so it’s ok to say what you actually mean.
Having an argument isn't anyone's favorite thing to do but occasionally it is necessary. Humans have many strong emotions and they all need to be expressed and explored. If hurt and angry feelings aren't validated along with the joyful and happy ones, we can't be truly intimate with our partner.
When couples agree to adhere to certain boundaries and guidelines, disagreements can be productive, enlightening and strengthen our most important relationships.