Same Argument, New Day? How to Stop Fighting With Your Partner.
Mini-arguments, like pimples, always rise to the surface.
Welcome to The First Years of Marriage Newsletter! We talk about the conversations, challenges, and changes that begin once the honeymoon ends. Advice from experts, mistakes from me (Jen Glantz), and things you’re going to want to know as you continue to ask yourself this question - “I’m married, so now what?”
Arguments remind me of pimples.
I’ve had acne since I was 11-years-old so if there’s one thing I know, it’s this:
You can rub on as much cover-up makeup as you want on a chin of pimples, but it won’t hide anything.
To get the pimples to exit my face, and my life, it takes an ongoing combination of things:
Trial and error
Help (thank you, glycolic face wash)
Paying attention (so when one is starting to grow on my forehead, I can take immediate action).
Want to know what all of those things have in common?
All of those things should (NEED!) to be done when you and your partner fight.
Spend enough time with someone in a relationship and what do you get?
Love, adoration, and a list of reoccurring things you argue about.
Sometimes it’s cute things like which person’s turn it is to get off the couch and scoop the ice cream.
Other times it’s household things like why your partner always leaves a ring of dried toothpaste in the sink.
Usually it’s over things that matter, like how one person isn’t following the budget you both spent so long coming up with or why the other person can’t seem to pay attention to a full sentence you speak, without checking their phone as an interruption.
Everyone, in any relationship, has a list of things they quarrel about, again and again.
I just got married and this scares me.
It scares me because what if Adam and I spend the next 67 years of our lives fighting about the same things?
I’m okay, right now, bantering with Adam about our own list of reoccurring arguments, but I can’t fathom thinking about having those SAME arguments constantly, forever.
I Need Some Advice
I want to start this off by saying I’m not an expert at this topic.
I don’t have a magic solution for you or really any personal success stories.
But I am an expert in arguing and probably would have made an excellent lawyer or sports agent, but instead, I’m a writer who is just innately stubborn, easily bothered, and way too passionate about expressing my opinions during arguments with my husband.
I’m not proud of that, but today I will be honest about that.
Anyway, here are tips from the experts.
I plan to use a few and will report back which ones worked for me.
What the Experts Have to Say
Say This Magic Word:
Ouch. Yes, you read that correctly. According to Hal Runkel, a marriage and family therapist, says that one way that can help diffuse an argument is to say the word ouch, instead of continuing on with patterns of saying hurtful things or repeating what you’ve already said before.
“Ouch. That one hurt. I don’t know if you were meaning to hurt me; I don’t know if that’s what you were going for; but that’s what you did.”
“That conversation, which was a very familiar path, that fight is now a totally different path because one of you chose to actually get vulnerable,” Runkel said.
Actually Get to the Root of the Problem
Arguments, especially repetitive ones, are usually about so much more than what’s on the surface.
"The best way to move past fighting about the same things is to address the process and not the content," associate psychotherapist Lucas D. Saiter, M.A., MHC-LP, told Bustle.
Saiter said it’s important to break the cycle of the argument and ask:"What's really going on right now that's not being said?"
Delete the Desire to Be Right
(Ya hear that one, Jen???)
Understand the argument better and pick apart what is more meaningful to the other person. What matters to them and why? What matters to you and why?
"Something may not be important to you, but if it matters to your partner, it needs to be addressed to their satisfaction," Lesli Doares, couples consultant and coach. "If it matters to both of you, finding a solution you both can accept and implement requires making room for each other’s requirements."
Try These Games:
The Ring-Fencing Game
Set a time to have the argument. Make it a calendar event! Sounds…cringy? Good. Therapists often recommend this because it can feel so artificial to schedule a time to argue that it almost becomes funny - or at least lowers the emotion.
Listen to a Punchline
Make a rule that before you argue, you both have to listen to 5-minutes of stand-up comedy. It’s hard to stay mad when someone is trying to make you laugh.
A Pause Button
Buy a pause button (like this) and hit it whenever the emotions flair or the argument is going in circles. Then agree that both people must step away and wait 20-minutes to continue. A lot can change in 20-minutes.
The Why, Why, Why Game
When someone brings up a moment, story, or reason why they are upset, ask them to break it down even more by asking the question “Why?” again and again.
“I’m mad that you called me annoying in front of James.”
“Why does that make you mad?”
“Because it made me embarrassed.”
“Why did it make you feel embarrassed?”
“Because It was disrespectful.”
*By doing this, you (the person who made the other person upset) can truly feel and hear their perspective.
This morning, I listed off three reoccurring arguments Adam and I are having.
“So, what are we supposed to do?”
Both of us fell silent.
People don’t talk enough about how relationships have their moments when nothing makes sense and everything feels off.
People don’t talk enough about how arguing is normal, natural, and nonsensical.
Nobody says anything about loving the other person during the mini-major reoccurring arguments that seem to never disappear and tempt you with the idea that those bothersome things may linger for 67+ years.
How come no one’s vows say:
For better or for worse, and during all those arguments that just never seem to end.
Let’s be honest, love is a million things, and sometimes it’s exhausting and hard.
Let’s keep talking about that right here.
Love you (for as long as we both shall live),
Thanks for Reading This!
New here? Welcome.
I’m Jen Glantz (virtual high-five!!)
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