How to Argue Positively with Your Partner: a personal reflection


My post on positive methods in handing anger got a significant response and inspired me to write another: how to argue positively with your partner.  If you are in any sort of personal relationship be it with a family member, friend, or spouse sooner or later differences of opinions will pop up and an argument will come to fruition.  This post is inspired by Lisa’s comment on arguing with her partner.  After almost six years together and almost two years of marriage here is what I have learnt to help handle those interpersonal skirmishes:
1. Don’t get too upset.  If your partner is grumpy or you are grumpy don’t take it too personally.  Perhaps someone is just in a bad mood?  Don’t create World War III out of nothing.
2. Don’t be mean or cruel.  Just because you are having an argument please do your best to avoid saying or doing something hurtful.  Even though you are disagreeing don’t say something that will make the matter worse. 
3. Consider how your words or the argument is impacting the other person.  Apologize for the bad feeling and let them know that you love them despite the disagreement. 
4. Forgive and forget.  Don’t hold onto the argument and continue to bring it up months later.  You had a fight, big deal, move on and be happy.
One of the things that I enjoy about my relationship with Range is how well we argue.  We can have quiet an impassioned disagreement and then go out and have a wonderful dinner together the following moment.  To me that is very important.  It is essential to be able to have a positive argument with your spouse.  However, arguments do not go well when abusive comments are said, when you feel you are not being listened to, or when people keep bringing up long forgotten incidents from the past.  When situations like that arise perhaps it is best to simply move on.  We all make mistakes and we need to work together to solve them. 
It’s time to move on when:
1. Someone is not listening to who you really are: once I had a close girlfriend suddenly decide that I was a terrible person despite years of generosity and goodwill.  In the end I had to realize that it was her problem not mine and move on to others who appreciated me.
2. Someone who is verbally abusive: I once dated a man who would be very mean when we argued.  I came to see this relationship as being dysfunctional and realized that he was not worth the trouble or abuse.
3.  Someone who is unforgiving: I have a close family member who continues to berate about the past and is not interested in considering my feelings or their own actions.  Again, perhaps a bit of time would help this wound heal. 
4. Someone who is a “control freak” or “game player”: you know the type.  They reach out at the very last moment and seem to have every social interaction mapped out like a cunning game of chess.  Again, is this person really worth it?  Chances are the relationship is not genuine.  Move on and stay close to those that appreciate you. 


4 Responses to “How to Argue Positively with Your Partner: a personal reflection”

  1. 1 Lisa Belovely
    April 3, 2007 at 6:13 am

    Thanks for sharing. I always feel enlightened by your posts. Everything you said makes clarifies most of the confusion and hurt I feel when I am upset/angry or dwelling on past conversations or hurtful things people have said to me.

    It is very destructive to dwell on the past. It is something I am continually working on. I want to move on, but I am so stubborn sometimes, that it usually takes me quite a while to get over my hurt.

    I need thicker skin and the ability to not let what other people say or do affect me in a negative way. I often feel very hurt by people’s comments, especially when it’s a sensitive topic. I am now learning that I can’t control what people say or do to me, but I can change MY reaction to their actions.

  2. April 3, 2007 at 1:30 pm

    Hi Lisa,

    Thanks for your comment. I always appreciate your perspective.

    It is normal to dwell on the past we all do it. Usually when we are still hurting over something. Once the hurt is resolved we can forget the past. However depending on what is bothering you the process can take years. Usually it is good to talk to someone you trust about why you are feeling hurt. Often by just sharing the experience with another person and putting it into words it can help you understand the situation and move on.

    For the most part I don’t really let what other people have to say get to me. The only time it does is when it is from someone I care about and I realize that I might no longer be able to trust them. That sucks! However, usually if someone is being condescending, petty, or cruel I just use their comments as an indicator of their own insecurities and don’t take any notice. Did you ever notice that often the nastiest people are the most unhappy? Who would want to end up like that?

    You are dead on about changing your reaction to people’s comments. That is the only thing you can change. It takes time. But remember you are smart, beautiful, creative, and talented. For many that is very threatening. Don’t take it personally if others sneer because you threaten them and continue to go for the gold!

  3. 3 Lisa Belovely
    April 3, 2007 at 11:02 pm

    You are definitely right about the benefits of sharing your hurt/anger/feelings with someone. It really is the best way to get over negative emotions.

    It is also important to know that you have support when you are feeling down. Support is the key. We all need support and it is often when we are feeling extreme emotions, really bad or really good, that we shy away from getting the support we need. When you are feeling amazing, you think, “I have everything under control, everything is perfect. I don’t need any help?” And when you are really sad, you think, “No one wants to listen to my problems. I shouldn’t bother them or accept their help”. It during these times, when you need to be aware and honest with yourself because it is then that you probably need support the most.

  4. 4 Luke Clifford
    April 5, 2007 at 1:30 am

    Ahh…the fun times always shine deeply when you are passionately in an augument and the nukes come out 🙂 Um…let me think…..oh yes..comments like your fat…your ugly…you caboos is beeping when you back up…mmmm…Throw sheemu back in the ocean..you know things that you say that causes your partner to drop the gloves…WWIII baby! You know im joking..but i had to through that fun stuff in 🙂

    Your friend lisa is very true about how you communicate via words…you speak so clearly…like the spring flowing down the rocks as it escapes the earth, slowly forming that crystal clear river….

    What i really enjoyed about your post was point 3. Of course all of it is great, just i connected with #3 as it is so true you have to think of how your words are affecting the other. Maybe it is the last part that you tell your partner you love them your dispite the battle going on 😉 I mean the little tiff 🙂

    Thanks for sharing your opinions and i really appreciate you taking the time to do it.

    Kindest Regards,

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