Why we argue and how arguing can improve our relationships.

Arguing. I hate arguing. I hate arguing with people I love, with people I need to get along with, I hate arguing with anybody. Especially I hate arguing with my boyfriend. Well, ok, the word hate is not the correct word. The right word is: I hated arguing. I hated arguing in the past. But I must say since I changed my point of view referring to arguing, I do think in the meantime that arguing with my partner isn’t as bad as I always thought it was. The reason for my mind shift is that I have realized arguing does not only have negative sides, no, it can also bring us positive things, too.

Of course a huge number of reasons exist for hating arguing. There is this bad feeling you have during the argument, then there is the exhausted feeling you have right after the argument. Also, maybe we say something during the arguments which we do regret very quickly right afterwards. Another reason for not liking arguments is often the feeling of the waste of time, as some arguments last… how long did your worst arguments last? One hour? Two hours? I think any argument which takes thirty minutes to two hours, is what can give us the feeling that this has been a waste of time.

That is why we always think we have to avoid arguments under any circumstances. As they only bring up bad feelings, they feel like they are a waste of time and sometimes there were things said which were mean or exaggerated.

Ok let’s be realistic here, avoiding arguing is not always possible and I think it shouldn’t be avoided at all, depending on the kind of argument and on the reason for it of course.

If it happens anyway, so we are arguing again, we often “punish” ourselves. Voices in our heads start to talk: Why did we fight again? It’s always the same topic. We just fought a week ago and now again… I feel bad about myself because I couldn’t keep my mouth shut. Why did I say this? Was there any chance I could have avoided this fight? I should have noticed that my partner is not in a good mood so I shouldn’t have started to ask or discuss about this topic.

And so on and so on.

 

Three main reasons for an argument to start.

Ok, before we come to the great reasons why we can be more relaxed when it comes to arguing within our relationship, and start to realize the change in our mind and in our view of arguing, lets first check on the three main reasons for an argument to start.

In my point of view there exist three possibilities or reasons why we argue, why an argument is even possible to come up. You can also call it three situations or three statuses a person is in:

 

  1. One partner or both are feeling stressed, tired or exhausted
  2. Expectations of one of the partners exist and those are not being fulfilled
  3. Feeling hurt because the persons values / deepest inner convictions haven’t been respected

 

The worst kind of fight is in situation number three. These are the one’s hurting the most. The one’s which can waste your time.

Also, I think number two and number three are kind of connected, as our values, our deepest inner convictions kind of belong to “expectations”. But lets see during the next parts of this article what we will find out about those three points and especially how fights in each category start and how we can change our minds so that those fights have a better ending in the future. And also find out how we can get some value, some positivity and some development out of each and any argument happening with our partner.

We have learnt above that there are three reasons for an argument. You or your partner could therefore be in three different statuses and each one of them can be the flint for starting a fight.

 

What do you need?

So very important: If you want to learn about how to stop a fight, you should first learn about self-reflection. You should be aware in which status you are in, at every moment of your life. If you are aware, for example that you are tired or exhausted, or hungry, then you should know that you can better not start an argument. People being tired are getting emotional, which mostly means they are getting sad. People being hungry are getting angry and people being exhausted are often emotional or angry, or sometimes both. So the first, very important thing is to ask yourself as often as possible: In which state am I right now and what do I need right now to make me feel good? Is there anything you need which you can give yourself or anything your partner can give you / do for you so you are feeling better? Tell it. Say it. Give it to yourself. Get some food, get some rest or whatever it is you need. After your needs being fulfilled, feel if you still have the need to start an argument. It is very important to have that kind of self-awareness. Try to be self-reflected every moment of every day in your life. Being self-reflected, is not always that easy, especially in moments you do not feel good, this is the challenging part here.

After having that kind of self-awareness and self-reflection, which is by the way something which will also help you during your work, or in other areas of your private life, you should be aware about the status your partner is in right now. If you’ve known him or her for quite a while already, you will notice whether he or she is tired or exhausted and therefore starting an argument with you, or if he or she really is having a problem right now. If you think he or she is actually not really fighting but only looking for something he or she needs, try to stay calm, do not immediately get angry and do not immediately fight back. If you do so, this can be the beginning of a two hours fight, which none of you both will have the power to end. Try to find out how your partner is feeling right now and to give him what he needs. Sometimes it is just as simple as get some food or some rest. Very often some love will do – a hug, a kiss or some attention :).  You can always suggest it in a friendly way, in a way which shows that you care for that person, you are there for your partner, even though he or she is angry, but you are not angry immediately only because he or she is.

If your partner is feeling better and there is still a problem, you can discuss it in a much better way. Both of you are feeling great and good and stable again, so maybe this time with less emotion you can talk and find a solution for the problem.

 

Expectations.

Here I would like to refer to expectations about certain events or situations which have a huge emotional meaning to you or to your partner. If there wouldn’t be a big emotional meaning to it involved, then there wouldn’t be a possibility to fight. What kind of situations or events could that be? I am thinking about things like moving in together, a vacation you and your partner are doing together, a concert or an event in the evening you are going to together, even an evening in the cinema or an evening with friends can be those events I am referring to here.

What do all these events or situations have in common: Expectations.

Expectations from either both of you or at least one of you is having expectations up to a certain situation or event.

Here two examples of situations and events and the possibility for an argument and what you can do about it:

 

  • Going out to an evening event with my boyfriend and friends:

An event which is very important to me. Which means a lot to me. We bought tickets a few months in advance, planned everything, I am really looking forward to it. I make unfortunately the mistake not telling my partner how much this event means to me. So he simply doesn’t know. We are there, I expect it to be a great evening, everyone being happy, getting a lot out of it. My partner joins me, he may not know how much it means to me, then there comes something out of his mouth, it is supposed to be a joke but I take it seriously and personally, though the joke was not meant to hit me. I take it personally as I am very excited about the event. Don’t do that. Don’t take it personally. If something means a very lot to you, you can not expect automatically that your partner feels the same way about the same thing. Maybe this event you are so excited about just means another evening for him, nothing more. The other way around of course the same story, your partner can not expect you being as excited as he is about something. If there is something you really look forward to and which means a lot to you, then just tell him or her. Tell your partner in the beginning or much in advance of the event what kind of meaning the upcoming even has to you, how important it is for you. He will understand and respect it. If you do not tell the meaning of a special event to you, then please be aware that this what you feel about the event, might not be the same going on inside your partner. Maybe for your partner the event is not that important, so do not expect him to be as excited as you are and just feel grateful he or she joins you on that special evening.

 

  • Moving in together:

Very big difference in expectations. Women often feel this is a new home, a new safe place to be themselves, to get and give attention. Men often see moving in together as a cut of freedom, as practial due to food and seeing each other. There are also different kind of views on the cleaning topic and on the cooking and eating-together-issue. Tell your partner what you want him to do, what you expect from the living together. Talk about your views regarding cleaning, eating together, what is important for you and your partner. I could write a complete article about moving in together, maybe will do so in the future 😉 so lot of expectations here, lot of things can go wrong here, so talk in advance so that you are kind of prepared. Arguments will come anyway, especially in the beginning after moving in together, but while talking in advance you can maybe eliminate some of them already right from the beginning.

 

Values, inner convictions.

Worst part of all. At the same time greatest part of all. Biggest possibility of getting hurt or hurt your partner. Here there is still the biggest possibility for personal growth and great possibility of development within your relationship. Values and inner convictions are very hard to explain. It is very difficult to generalize them, if you know once what they are and what it means, there is no need for explanation anymore. Still I try as good as possible to explain: A person’s values are for example things like: honesty, freedom, trust, tolerance, loyalty. So when it comes down to an argument in which any of the above mentioned values are being misdoubted or scratched, you might get deeply hurt or can deeply hurt your partner.

Let me give you an example. You have the feeling your partner lied to you about something. You confront him about it, and let him notice that you think he or she lied. If the value and inner conviction honesty and trust are the strongest values in your partner, and he or she notices that you do mistrust it, then you might hurt your partner quite a lot. Therefore he or she will start to defend himself. That’s when a big argument is about to start. So if there is anything you need to talk about it with your partner, which can hurt or scratch the values and inner convictions of your partner, try to do this talk as calm and soft and very gently, as possible. With this you can cause less pain possible. Anyway, if you are in a fresh relationship, so you do not know your partner very well yet, maybe you do not know his values and convictions yet, then these kind of arguments are the chance to learn about your partner. You learn from his reactions, from the things he said and from the behaviour your partner is showing how he or she feels.

 

So in general what we’ve learnt is, that it is always better to talk about things within your relationship, when none of you is in any kind of strong emotional status or feeling uncomfortable in any other way. This will usually never have a good ending. It is better to talk about problems within the situation when both are feeling stable and good. Here you can create an ending of the argument or discussion which both of you can live and work with. To be honest, relationship is hard work, we all know that. Anyway, I think that in the end, what we all want to have, is someone who we can share thoughts with, someone who cares for us, someone who asks us from time to time how we are doing, and listening to us when we need to just split it all out. Also, it is always better to watch closely your own status and the status of your partner, before starting an argument. Also be careful with learning values and convictions of your partner, think about them carefully before starting fighting, arguing. Still, after all, fights are a big chance for development. You learn about your partner quite a lot, also about yourself.

You see, notice and feel the development within your relationship. How do you feel and notice it? The next time the fights are either shorter, less worse, less emotional, less negative. OR, even better: you do not fight at all. This is giving you a feeling of victory. You went through bad times but it was not all for nothing. It was worth it in some kind of ways. Why? Because you and your partner come along with each other much better than before the fight. Why? You know each other better. You know little or big details about the personality of your partner.

Why do you think are those couples who have been married for about 50 years, still together? What is the key to it? Of course, honesty, talk, caring for each other and so on, but one thing which is forgotten in my opinion quite often, is: knowing each other and taking the needs of yourself and your partner into consideration. And also taking into consideration the things you and your partner do not like.

So next time when you feel bad about having another fight with your partner, instead of feeling bad, you can take it as a big chance for growth, you can open ourselves to the fight happening right now or just happened and welcome it as a gift. We can say thank you for this to happen as this is a new chance given to grow and to get myself and my partner to know better than before this argument. And after all, getting to know each other better will only bring more peace into the relationship, and guess what…. less arguments.

 

Love is the answer,

Michaela

 

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