I work professionally with many couples. If I had just one thing to share with every couple that I meet, this would be it.
Stop arguing about events - argue about feelings.
So much of a couples time and energy is put into who said what, how long ago it was said, who did this or who did that. It's useless and pointless.
The reason we argue is because we are having an emotional response. So wouldn't it make sense to make the key focus of our communication about feelings? I think so.
Try these tips to get away from spinning your wheels and having the endless arguments. You just might also notice that your partner feels more listened to, more understood, and more cared for. Emotional validation is very important and helps us feel a lot better. Even if our partner disagrees with the events, they can still understand how it felt “to us”.
Stop discussing events: Talking about who, what, when, where, and why should be a very minor part of any argument.
Discuss emotions: Use phrases like “When this happened I felt like this.” “When you said this I had a feeling...”
Stop arguing about who is right: Right and wrong are important if we are discussing facts, but lets face it, facts are not what relationships are about. Relationships are about feelings. It doesn't matter who is right and who is wrong.
Start arguing to learn: So many couples argue by trying to prove a point, rather than by trying to absorb new information about our partner's experience. A discussion is an opportunity to learn and to grow, don't use them to win. If you are participating in an argument to “win” it is likely that you will not be truly listening to your partner's emotion, rather, you are listening to gather ammo to support your personal point.
Disagree with grace:Understand that it's possible, and probable, to disagree and still both be right. This is a huge point of contention for many people. Our partner disagreeing on a point doesn't make our opinion incorrect, wrong, or invalid. Instead of being defensive try listening and agreeing to disagree.
Written by Brad Messenger, LMSW.