Gaia and I have been married 21 years.
We realised recently that we’ve become really good at arguing. 🙂
And we’re going to share some of these hard-won tips to arguing well.
What are you on about, you say, surely the sign of a good relationship is that there are no arguments.
Really? It’s a good topic of debate.
Now, this is not a rule, but in my experience (and I mean in my experience, way back into childhood), the lack of any argument can indicate the inability or reluctance to express feelings and needs (‘all for a quiet life’).
We’re interested, however, in how we can be fully ourselves WITHIN our relationship.
We want to be able to express all our feelings and needs within that relationship.
We want to be able to say when something doesn’t suit us or hurts us.
And that sometimes leads to a frothy back-and-forth, aka arguing.
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And a little aside before we talk about ‘How to Argue’ – about cultural differences.
So Gaia (Italian) and I (English) have been in our (beautiful) relationship for 22 years.
I was astonished early on at how much Italians argue.
I’d say ‘why are you arguing?’. And they’d say ‘we’re not’.
I still say it in fact. Gaia might be in talking to the boys. It sounds like they’re arguing. I ask them what they’re arguing about. They say ‘we’re not, we’re just trying to work out when to go to the cinema’.
So, based on the assumption that, in our close relationships, we’re likely to get into disagreements and arguments about things –
Especially in these relationships because –
a. there’s a special kind of button pressed by those you’ve chosen to be with like this and
b. these relationships really matter, so more is at stake –
Let’s look at How to Argue –
- Don’t look for victory or to be right. Aim simply to communicate and to improve your communication… aim for progress, not completion.
- Listen more than you talk. Even if it’s something that you’re needing to express, have a go at biting your tongue.
- Talk from truth. Don’t play games. Don’t try to get one up. Just speak your truth clearly and honestly.
- Say sorry easily.
- Accept a sorry immediately, and then be quiet. Don’t use an apology as a reason to get stuck in even more.
- Know that sometimes it’s best to ask to stop talking with the offer to talk again later (usually because you need to calm down).
- You don’t need to fix it. Just hearing and being heard is progress.
- Remember that, underneath, there’s usually love, or affection, or respect, whatever it is that brought you together or (in the case of involuntary blood relations) whatever you’ve enjoyed in your relationship at its best.
- Be flexible. How can you move in the other’s direction without giving up yourself.
- Don’t argue before bed. The age-old advice, try not to. We prefer to argue whilst walking: it works for a variety of reasons, including that sense of being in movement (which a relationship always is), and the brain working more creatively when walking… oh and you tend not to shout if you’re out in the open. 🙂
In the end, we learn about ourselves and life through our closest relationships.
And how we deal with the natural disagreements in these closest of relationships becomes a critical life skill.
Though you may disagree of course 🙂