It is not uncommon to occasionally have arguments with your partner. In fact, arguments in a relationship could even be considered common, or at least normal. (Maybe even considered TOO frequent depending on the relationship!) While fights are to be expected, the outcomes of any conflict with your partner can heavily depend on both your preparation for the conflict, as well as consideration of your partner’s perspective during the argument.
In this article, we’ll look at some of the common mistakes that many couples make during a fight, and give you 4 tips you can apply within your relationship to help change your perspective, and stop arguments in their tracks!
You may have heard the famous Maya Angelou quote, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” While this can be applied to many different lifestyle circumstances, it especially rings true during an argument with your partner.
Oftentimes during in-session conversations about previous fights, I see couples interrupt each other a lot, as if to make sure they are not being misrepresented when the argument is recalled. However, this is also often accompanied with difficulty realizing that their misrepresentation stems from the way they are presenting to their partner during the initial fight. Rather than remember the exact verbiage from the argument, their partner instead remembers how they interpreted the statement, and more importantly, how it made them feel. Not only did the content of the conversation get lost in the argument itself, resulting in no progress made with whatever issue started the fight, but this could also result in potential feelings of resentment or anger for the way your partner felt during the fight.
Many times, the true reason for an argument can easily get lost in the act of arguing itself, in the “you said this, I said that,” which can quickly cause a couple to lose sight of the issues they really need to address.
It is all too common for individuals to look at a fight with their partner as a battle that they have to win. This viewpoint serves as an indication that the needs and concerns of your partner are less important than your need to be heard and eventually agreed with. This often becomes The negative way that’s interpreted by your partner can lead to deeper issues including feeling like they’re not truly heard or even loved by you .
Furthermore, if your end goal of each argument is simply to gain your partners agreement for the sake of being right, you’re actually creating an additional conflict, while also preventing a real resolution for the original conflict – AKA you haven’t solved the first problem AND you created a new one.
When an argument is being recounted to me in the therapy room, I like to point out that both parties can be right at the same time. I remind them that each viewpoint and each partners’ feelings are valid. It’s important for couples to remember that the same rules apply to both sides. Once couples are able to recognize the validity of their partner’s perspective in addition to their own, it usually becomes easier to take a step back and refocus perspective, even in the heat of the moment during the next disagreement.
Taking the time to try to see your partner’s perspective not only makes an argument or disagreement go more smoothly, but it shows that you respect and care about them. Below are some helpful tips to a smooth discussion.
Four Tips to Help You Understand Your Partner’s Perspective
Once it is understood that each person’s opinions and feelings are valid, the argument shifts from a battle that has to be won into more of a learning experience for both parties. Ask questions that will help you truly understand where your partner is coming from. This doesn’t mean you have to agree with their viewpoint, but understanding their stance or concerns shows genuine love and concern. It also usually means that a solution will be reached more easily.
Slow it down & watch your tone
How the argument unfolds can be a huge factor in whether or not it will actually be resolved. Yelling, blaming, and name calling are pretty good indicators that the argument will not be resolved peacefully. If you find an argument is quickly getting out of control; that is your clue that both of you should walk away for a bit. take a break in order to spend some time cooling down and revisite the conversation when everyone is calmer. If both parties are able to sit down to calmly talk about their feelings while genuinely trying to understand each other’s views and being respectful towards one another’s feelings, the discussion is much more likely to reach a resolution quickly!
Respect that you’re on the same side
Arguments are so frequently treated as competition between partners, as if someone can somehow “win”. You’re right, they’re wrong, end of story. If you’re having trouble understanding their perspective, try reminding yourself of what you have in common. This can be difficult, especially in the midst of an argument, but it will humanize your partner – oftentimes in a fight, we start looking at our partner as someone to “beat”. We tend to forget the person we’re arguing with is human and someone we love. Remember that you and your partner are on the same team, and the resolutions ultimately stemming from disagreements are likely to benefit both of you.
Ask yourself “How did I contribute?”
This one isn’t fun, and definitely not always easy, but you need to take ownership of your contributions to an argument escalating. Owning up to your role can be humbling, which will help serve as a reminder that you’re not in a competition, even in the heat of the moment. Whether it was name calling, an eye-roll, or making a snide comment you knew would push some buttons, accepting responsibility for your part in an argument will do wonders for your personal growth, while also encouraging similar vulnerability from your partner. No one is perfect, and it takes two to participate in a fight. Acknowledging your role can also contribute to your greater consideration of your partner’s perspective by helping you take a step back and rethink your verbiage and actions during a disagreement.
Solid Foundations believes in a tool-based and goal-oriented approach to couples counseling. This has allowed us to have helped countless couples realign their perspectives; leading to more enjoyable and effective communication with their partners, while reducing time spent with unproductive and hurtful arguments. If you have enjoyed reading about these tips on how you can get a better grip on your partner’s perspective, and would like more guidance on your relationship, contact us to schedule a session today!