I know you are probably wondering why I chose a picture of Halloween for a post about arguing in relationships. I guess we have to go back a few weeks so I can fill you in on that weekend of time. Halloween is one of my favorite holidays of the year, sometimes I even think I like it more than Christmas. It was shaping up to be a perfect weekend, so what could possibly go wrong?
Most days Christoph (my boyfriend) and I have excellent communication even with us both having different mother tongues. When we are upset with each other, we figure out ways to express ourselves without hurting each other’s feelings. But no one is perfect, right? So we definitely run into days where it seems our words are just going over each other, and we can’t seem to reach a middle ground. It’s an awful place to be, and we sit there on our couch trying to figure out what to do and what to say to each other. But with each word we say to each other, it seems we dig ourselves deeper into the whole of whatever issue we are facing then. And that, my friends, is exactly what went wrong on Halloween weekend.
Christoph had been away for two weeks for work, which was a very last minute trip he had to do. I had been having a really off week—you know those weeks I’m talking about, right? Like literally everything was going wrong and all I wanted was to have some much needed time catching up with him.
Well, when he was on the train home, he texted me telling me he had to go to a work event that he completely forgot about. Normally, something like this wouldn’t be a problem. I’d tell him all right, it’s cool you forgot, and we wouldn’t have an issue. But oh no, on this week, that wasn’t going to happen. I was already feeling so down during the week that I instantly lashed out at him for not remembering something like this. All of this was done via text, by the way, which you all know usually makes matters worse.
By the time he arrived home, I was totally angry at him. I let all the aggression build up inside of myself, and it seemed that I was taking out all my negative feelings on him. He tried to sit down and have a rational conversation with me, but I just wouldn’t have it. I kept telling him how he screwed up my favorite holiday weekend of the year. He kept trying to tell me that he wasn’t actually ruining anything—which was true, because Halloween wasn’t until the next day. But, I just felt that Christoph wasn’t getting me at that moment. This actually had little to do with Halloween or him screwing up my weekend like I told him. It was on a much deeper level. I felt that he was not identifying with my emotions, and wasn’t hearing what I was actually saying, and that is why I was so hurt by him. I’m sure you’ve been there too, and it’s a really painful place to be.
No matter how well we think our partner knows us, there are does we feel that they just don’t identify with us at all. No matter how strong your relationship is, there will be days that you run into moments of being at a loss of words to say to each other. The worst thing you can do in that situation is start babbling off a bunch of things that you are upset about, and then attacking the other person about issues you have with them. If you are like me, a little fiery Scorpio, then you will know that later on you will regret saying those harsh words, but unfortunately the damage is already done.
Arguing is essential in relationships; in fact, I totally believe we have to fight in order to maintain our independence and stand our ground on issues we care about. But, there is a healthy way to argue—which doesn’t include a proper Scorpio lashing—that can truly transform your relationship.
So, I wanted to share with you my tips for healthy arguing, which I hope help you! At the bottom of this post, I’ve included a video as well, so definitely check that out!
5 Tips for Arguing in Relationships
1.Take some time to cool off before speaking to your significant other
In my situation above, I originally did the opposite and it only made matters worse. In heated moments it’s super easy to start listing off everything you are upset or angry about. But, what usually happens several hours later? In my case, you are sitting there trying to explain that you didn’t mean to say all those hurtful things, and you wish you could take them all back. In these moments, it’s essential to take a moment to chill out.
What usually helps me to calm down is to take a small walk and get the oxygen flowing through my body. It helps me to rationally think about what I’m upset about rather than sharing my laundry list of issues. In the scenario above, Christoph and I took about twenty minutes between my initial lashing out on him until we spoke again. The amount of time you need to cool off will obviously depend on you and the given situation, but you will know when the time is right. After we both cooled down, it was so much easier to sit down and have a rational conversation, which I’ll get into more detail in my next tip.
2.Listen to them
This tip may seem point blank, but when in an argument sometimes you only listen for what you want to hear, not what the other person is actually saying. When feeling upset it can be hard to focus our attention on the other person and fully listen to them. Sometimes they might be saying something to us that makes us feel even more upset or uncomfortable. Our loved ones see things in us that sometimes we don’t see. They can point out our insecurities in ourselves, and when in an argument, this can make us not want to listen to them. But, it’s really important that we do open our ears during an argument and try to close our mouths.
It’s easy to want to snap at our significant other when they say something that hurts our egos. Sometimes we might even get so angry we tell them they we don’t want to talk to them or have this argument. But, not dealing with the argument only makes things worse. The other person may say things that hurt our feelings but it’s important to just listen to them in that moment and not lash our right away. After you listen to what they have to say, you will have a chance to explain yourself as well. When you open your ears to listen to what the other person is saying, it helps you to resolve the argument in an efficient manner rather than wasting hours being mad at your loved one.
3.Stop insulting, start explaining
It’s easy to play the blame game when you are upset. There are nicer ways to say something you are upset about than just insulting the other person. For example, instead of saying, “you always forget events like this” it can be rephrased in a more positive way. So I could say something like, “It hurts me when you forget things like this because I always write down events like this so I can remember and tell you in advance. I feel that this is an issue between us and I want to know how we can resolve it.” Yeah, I know, in a perfect world that isn’t easy to do that in an argument! But, it’s essential that we rephrase our words to explain ourselves to our significant other, which will help you to resolve the issue at hand. If you find yourself getting heated again, take more time to cool off and recollect your thoughts.
4.Work with each other to resolve the issue
It’s important to remember that you are a team, even in an argument. I think sometimes when we are arguing with our significant other we want to work against each other, which is totally counterintuitive. In a relationship, we need help every now and then, and there is nothing wrong with asking or suggesting something so you both can reach a middle ground. Now, be really careful here. There is such a fine line between giving advice and being nagging. That’s why it’s crucial that you have good communication between the two of you. You need to both be able to tell each other things openly and honestly so you can work together and resolve issues so they don’t become recurrent ones. As a couple, you have to be willing to grow together and help each other when needed. Our significant other isn’t our enemy, so even though we may want to work against them when in an argument we have to try to work with them to resolve the issue.
5.Don’t keep score cards against each other
Most people say they don’t keep score cards, yet often times they still do. I’m definitely a part of this as well, so I’m definitely not trying to seem that I’m above you or anything like that! It’s super easy to keep little mental scorecards against each other which can have a really detrimental effect on your overall relationship. In your head you keep a tally of how many times your significant other screwed up about something that really bothers you. Maybe they didn’t wash the dishes, maybe they got totally drunk at a party, or maybe they said something that offended you. You get the picture. You tell your significant other that you forgive them for doing x,y, and z, right? But, what often times happens when we are in an argument is that this scorecard in your head pops out. You start saying, “Well remember last week when I told you to wash the dishes and you didn’t and then I had to!” Then what usually happens? In my case, the other person responds with, “I thought you forgave me for that? Why are you bringing that up now?” Which is a totally legitimate issue in itself.
Seriously, if you forgive someone for something you need to truly let it go! If something bothered you three weeks ago, then it should have been dealt with three weeks ago. Otherwise you end up with unresolved arguments, and a lot of negative feelings and resentment in relationships. It’s a horrible place to be. Keeping scorecards is a massive issue in relationship, and usually indicates that you haven’t worked through that issue in the first place. So, instead of getting totally angry about all these things you have been tallying in your head deal with them one on one until they are resolved.