Even couples who have the strongest relationships argue from time to time, especially at this time of year. Most commonly, according to one study, people argue about how to spend time together, dealing with in-laws and who does what around the house.
But if arguments with your partner are spiralling out of control, it can make both of you feel hurt and rejected - and that's not a recipe for happiness. If you want to put an end to all that pointless bickering, here are some tips on how to argue more constructively:
10 tips to argue more constructively
- Break patterns of behaviour
Figure out if there's a pattern to your argument. For instance, do you find yourself arguing about the same things again and again? If so, try to break the pattern. So if you realise you tend to argue about the same thing in the same situation, agree to discuss the subject at another time or in another place
- Don't clam up
If your partner wants to discuss a sensitive issue that you think you're going to disagree over, you may feel the best tactic is to refuse to talk about it. But doing so can make your partner feel unappreciated and frustrated
- Allow your partner to express themselves
Avoid starting an argument by jumping in and criticising or condemning your partner. Be amicable and give them as much time as they need to express themselves - without interrupting them
- Respect your partner's point of view
Try to understand your partner's point of view - and even if you can't agree with it, try to respect it. If you're finding it hard to understand their standpoint, ask them to explain it in more detail
- Choose your time wisely
Pick a good time for a discussion. After all, picking a bad time is unlikely to help you resolve your issues calmly or satisfactorily. Then when it's time to have your discussion, make sure you won't be disturbed by turning off your mobile phones
- Ask yourself what's really bothering you?
Are you arguing about a much deeper issue than the one on the surface? Or has something happened to upset you and you're taking it out on your partner? If so, tell your partner why you're so upset - they may be able to help
- Avoid being defensive
Avoid being defensive if your partner criticises you - it can just make your argument more intense. Instead, ask them to explain their criticism, or tell them you need to think about what they've said. That will buy you some time to calm down and see things more objectively
- Take some time to relax
If you really don't think you can have a discussion with your partner about a particularly emotive subject without blowing your top, take some time out to relax and put things in perspective before you start talking about it. Go for a walk in the park, take a relaxing bath or put on some of your favourite music - or whatever helps you to feel less tense. This will give your partner some space too
- Be prepared to compromise
Don't go all out to win, be prepared to compromise. If you refuse to budge in an argument, you are much more likely to end up losing it (all good relationships involve a lot of give and take, after all)
- Move on from the conflict
According to one study, most couples said that making up quickly after an argument may be key to keeping a relationship alive. So after an argument, make up - the sooner, the better
If you're experiencing relationship problems at home and would like to speak to a member of CABA's support team, contact us today. Our support is available for ACA students, past and present ICAEW members and their families.