Disagreeing with your partner can sometimes lead to better communication. In her book I Love You. Now What?, Mabel Iam tells you which arguments are worth having and which are better left silent.
How often do you argue with your partner? Once a day, twice a week, ten times a month, twelve times a year?. If you answered the latter, you are among life's most fortunate human beings.
Arguments Kill Relationships
Arguments are stressful, toxic and draining. And generally, they don't lead to any solutions. Although, arguments are healthy when they focus on one particular topic. Arguments can also be constructive when the couple decides to air out their emotions coherently or clear up some past confusion. This can alleviate accumulated misunderstandings. Usually during a positive argument, the couple comes up with some sort of resolution for the conflict. This may lead to one or both partners modifying their behavior, and this is the way in which arguments can help a relationship to grow. Unfortunately, however, the most common arguments are those that provoke more conflict in the relationship, are not at all "healthy" and are characterized primarily by irrational discussions that don't lead to any solutions.
Before entering into any argument, though sometimes our impulses don't allow us to think clearly at that moment, the ideal thing would be to ask yourself: Is this really worth arguing about? In other words, is it worth sacrificing the peace that is reigning between us to bring up this discussion right now? If the subject is trite, you'd do best to keep the peace and avoid the confrontation. If, on the other hand, the subject is really important to the overall well-being of the family or the relationship, then you must decide how to best approach the subject to avoid hurting your partner or damaging your relationship.
It may not be worthwhile to have an argument if your partner
- wears something that you don't like. Instead, carefully tell him or her that you really prefer another outfit.
- gives you the same thing for your birthday as last year. Laugh it off and remind him or her. Perhaps your partner hadn't realized it. Later, you can go and exchange the gift for something else.
- calls you "pumpkin" in front of your friends. Whisper in his or her ear that you'd really rather hear that kind of talk only in private.
- burns your dinner. Laugh it off and offer another solution.
- buys him- or herself something expensive as a personal treat. Congratulate your partner and admit that everybody needs a perk once in a while.
- needs to call his or her mother every day. If you really cannot stand to listen to their conversation, lock yourself in your bedroom and turn the music up.
- gets together once a week with friends. Follow his or her example and do it yourself. It's great for the relationship to get some air.
Below is a list of situations which may warrant a more heated exchange. You may need to have a serious discussion if your partner
- treats you badly or is abusive.
- tries to seduce someone else in front of you.
- treats your children in a way that you don't like.
- doesn't fulfill parental responsibilities.
- never lets you know about being home late.
- doesn't sleep at home.
- verbally harasses you.
- is irresponsible about work and you have to carry all the financial weight.
These are only a few examples. Obviously, the list is endless. The purpose of naming these things is to realize that there are instances that justify an argument, while others don't. If you must argue, do it with respect and try not to lose your cool. Think of the well-being of your relationship as well as your own well-being.
Arguments and fights follow the snowball effect: they start out small, as a meaningless thing, and grow until they become a disaster. Arguments are usually produced by the tendency to try to convince the other person to see things from our point of view. In any argument, we always believe that we are the one who is correct. Therefore, we don't listen to the other person's arguments, and we enter into a struggle. If one does listen, it is only to try to outdo the person's reasoning because our own is much stronger, more justifiable and certainly more factual.
- What do you feel when you see someone arguing or fighting?
- What is the first thing you think?
- Do you think that either of you wants to win the argument or is trying to dominate the other person?
- Are you arguing over jealousy or power?
You are justifying yourself as you read these words, aren't you? The best thing for you to do is answer truthfully in order to improve communication and reach a resolution.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mabel Iam is a psychotherapist and relationship expert, as well as the author of I Love You. Now What?: Falling in Love Is a Mystery, Keeping It Isn't (Copyright © 2008 by Corpo Solar, Inc.), and several national and international award-winning bestsellers. She often appears on Telemundo and Univision and has a weekly radio show.
- Buy the book I Love You. Now What?
- Find out if you're ready to get married
- Learn how to light your spouse's fire
- Read an excerpt from the book I Love You. Now What?