The ways we are taught to resolve differences and reach agreement are adversarial in nature. Our legal institutions and government assemblies present two opposing sides and the battle commences until one side is victorious. The argument of the winning side is declared ‘the Truth’. Unfortunately, couples tend to try and play out a similar format for resolving tensions in the home when they have disagreements.
Fights can lead to a real bonding between couples if the focus isn’t placed on winning. Much more interesting for the two involved, is to understand why each partner feels the need to keep arguing.
It can be difficult in an argument to take a step back. The problem being ‘discussed’ often raises tensions and in an argument there is an air of urgency to resolve in your favor. Usually, the person who can start to see the other’s perspective is able to pause for a minute and ask what is really going on. This can be as simple as acknowledging that you just want to be right all the time. Sometimes we argue about something – a set of facts, or details of a shared memory – that we each recall differently. Mature people in relationships are able to update their perspective with new information by acknowledging any proof that they are wrong.
Most fights between couples are not of that nature, as loving partners don’t want to be angry with each other over trivial things. Most fights are sourced in the feelings each couple brings to the issue. This is when it is helpful for the couple to pause for a moment. It is helpful to see an argument as a manifestation of something that hurts or sits uncomfortably within each of you. The start of an argument is a signal from the ‘couple’ part of the two of you that there is something that needs to be discussed. We can take the start of an argument as a signal and switch into a different way of responding.
Understanding what is so important to your partner can bring you both closer. With love and time, you get to know your partner fairly intimately. In the early years of a relationship, it is interesting to hear some of the points of view and arguments of your partner. Later, you will understand why a particular issue or topic burns them up, as it is richly tied to some of their key life moments or ways of seeing the world. In these arguments, there may not be the need for you to be right. Lead your partner towards discussing their point of view without your adversarial interjections.
Sometimes it is not the topic being argued that is the real problem. In these arguments, continuing down a verbal road of fighting for supremacy will never succeed. It is possible to see the underlying causes for disagreement. Fears, worries and anger can make you act subconsciously. Changing your justifications or saying ‘But…’ a lot suggest that something else is driving you to battle. It may be best to let emotions settle and then discuss what is causing you to argue with your partner later.
Feeling understood and having your emotions recognised gives you strength and a sense of vitality. Using arguments to trigger a deeper understanding of you and your partner strengthens your bond.