Yes, you CAN stop being dicks to each other.
While many characterize arguing as an act which lacks compassion or consciousness, I actually claim that arguing during a relationship is as natural as breathing.
Arguing is a way of clearing and cleansing the emotional and mental space that exists between two people.
It’s a way of establishing boundaries, connecting to one’s voice and accepting that all emotions, even anger or frustration are part of the human experience — rather than things to avoid.
Arguing, when done right, can do wonders for bringing two people closer together. It's when arguments become fights then matters become increasingly dirty and ultimately destructive.
Here are 4 steps to keep arguments healthy and civil instead of becoming a nasty full-on blowout:
1. Be respectful of each other's time.
Before we approach one another, my husband and I try to feel out if the timing is on point. What we say is often just as important as when we say it. Its always advisable to check in with your partner to make sure that now is a good time to talk. This establishes that even when you have something to discuss you are respectful of the other person and their time.
2. Watch your words.
In many instances arguments turn into fights because of the words that we use. If I approach my husband saying “YOU made me feel _____ when you did _____,” his immediate reaction is going to be a defensive one.
If, however, I approach him in a way that owns my feelings such as saying “I felt ____ when you did _____,” it allows me to state how I feel while not triggering a defensive response. Chances are your partner would be willing to take responsibility for their behavior, as well as gives you the spaciousness to have your feelings heard.
3. Stay on topic.
One of the slipperiest slopes to traverse in an argument is delving into the past. When we go from staying on the topic and move into issues from our past we are moving away from finding solutions and creating an ego oriented need to be right. Instead stick to the issue at hand, and if there are still unresolved issues from the past, address them at another time when you can devote the conversation entirely to that topic.
4. NEVER give ultimatums.
Everyone has boundaries and everyone has a right to establish those boundaries for themselves. But just as you have yours, your partner has their own as well. Rather than demanding that your partner does something, ask them. When we make a request, rather than a demand, we acknowledge that this is not a power struggle but two people working together to help a relationship reach its fullest potential.
Lets be honest: no one exactly looks forward to an argument. But when done in a healthy way, these discussions can bring us closer to those we care for, and create room for not just resolution but healing.