by Gladys Diaz
Every couple argues. It’s inevitable. You have two completely different human beings – with all of their past, fears, ideas, and opinions – coming together to try to form one life. Because we don’t stop being who we are when we become part of a couple, it just stands to reason that from time to time you and your honey will not being seeing eye-to-eye. Creating a wonderful relationship is NOT about perfection. It’s about learning how to deal with both your own and his imperfections in a way that honors and respects who you both are – for yourselves and one another.
If arguments are inevitable, does that mean it’s okay to have full-blown fights? Well, I suppose some might say it’s “okay,” but I will also say that nothing can chip away at the intimacy in a relationship more than constant fighting.
Aside from the fact that there is usually a lot of disrespect involved, it’s also true that constantly bickering and arguing with someone is exhausting – even for those who are addicted to drama. It just takes so much out of you when you constantly feel like you need to be on your guard, defending yourself and your point of view from the person who supposedly loves you.
One time, at one of our workshops, my husband was speaking to the ladies, answering their questions about men, love, and relationships, and someone asked him what men want most. His answers surprised all of us (myself included). He said that what men want more than anything is peace. He went on to explain how, before I started practicing the skills I now teach, all he wanted was peace. This is why he would either shut down and give me the silent treatment, or blow up and yell at me when I simply would not stop nagging and yelling at him, because he knew that I would end up crying, leaving the room, and then he would finally have the peace he’d been asking for the twenty times he had told me, “I don’t want to talk about this right now!”
This is why I tell my clients that it’s not that men don’t know how to deal with women’s emotions. It’s simply that they don’t like the drama. Even if they love a woman, if there is constant nagging, bickering, and drama, they will tend to withdraw – either physically, emotionally, or both.
So, if disagreeing is a normal part of being in a relationship, but constant arguing chips away at the intimacy, how can we disagree without letting things get out of hand? Well, one thing we can do is to stop the fight before it even begins. There are basic ways we can do that:
- Disengage: Rather than jumping into the knee-jerk reaction you have when he says or does something that “triggers” you, choose not to engage in the argument or conversation. Basically, you want to RSVP “No” to the invitation to engage in a familiar argument or a conversation that usually leads to one. The easiest way to do this is by leaving the room and going to do something that makes you feel peaceful and relaxed.
- Remain quiet… for now: Usually, when we are triggered is not the best time to try to have a calm, logical conversation that is going to lead to a solution. So, until you can calmly say what you are thinking and feeling, it’s best to not say anything at all.
- Deal with the real issue: Sometimes, it can feel as if everything our guy is doing is getting on our last nerve. Things that we can usually ignore or let slide set us off, and we end up criticizing or lecturing him. Many times, this happens when we’re upset or worried about something else, because it’s easier to see someone else’s faults and “fix” their problems than it is to deal with our own. So, before you start complaining, make sure you are clear about what you are really upset about.
Now, does all of this mean that you just ignore your feelings, keep everything bottled in, and pretend that you’re not upset when you are? Absolutely not! It’s important to be able to express how you are feeling, what you want and what you don’t want. However, there are ways of expressing your feelings and desires in a way that is clear and allows you to have the experience of being heard.
- Sort yourself out with someone other than him. Share and vent your feelings with a friend – someone you trust and who is standing for the success of your relationship. It helps if this person is happily married, as she will probably give you some good advice.
- Focus on what you are actually feeling. Rather than complaining about what he’s doing/not doing or saying/not saying, focus on how you are feeling. These words are usually used to name emotions. For example, saying “I’m disappointed that I won’t be able to visit my family for the holidays” is much more effective than saying, “If you would have done a better job of saving money, rather than spending it all on fixing up your car, we could have been able to afford the tickets to go visit my family.” See the difference?
- Share your feelings in a manner that is calm and clear. The more calmly and clearly you express what you are feeling, the easier it will be for him to actually hear what you are saying. Doing the first two steps – talking things through with someone else and focusing on what you are feeling (rather than on what he did) will help you do this. The more calm and clear you are, the less he is going to feel like he needs to defend himself. This also comes across as more vulnerable, which usually sparks the man’s natural desire to protect and try to please you.
If you’d like to learn more about how to stop fights before they start, consider joining us tonight, January 8, 2013 at 9:00 p.m. Eastern for our Relationship Group Coaching Calls for Girlfriends and Wives. We’ll be going more in-depth into the topic, I’ll be giving more examples and tips, and you’ll have a chance to receive some live coaching while you’re on the call! And, for a limited time, you can join for as little as $10, and, if you’re not satisfied, you can ask for your money back! Talk about a win-win!
Comments? Questions? Let us know below! We love hearing from you!