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Are arguments a normal part of most relationships or a worrying sign that something is wrong? Relationship experts Relate say that it depends on the kinds of arguments you’re having.
If you only argue occasionally – and if your arguments don’t spiral out of control – then you may not need to worry. But if you have enough bad arguments over a long period time, then your relationship can really start to suffer.
Many experts agree that its inevitable that couples will argue and that it doesn’t always mean something is wrong. But if you find you’re arguing about the same topics over and over again, it is likely to start doing some damage.
This is especially true if you are not prepared to compromise or see things from each other’s point of view, and if you’re losing your tempers and saying things you later regret.
If this sounds like you and your partner, you may be stuck in a conflict loop. Its important to break this loop of negative behaviours as it is likely to cause a build up of resentment that makes it hard to focus on anything else.
Relate did a survey in 2015 called The Way We Are Now and 50% of the couples who took part, said they rarely or never argued.
You might think this is a good thing but in fact, many relationship counsellors agree they are less worried about couples who say they argue occasionally – than those who say they never argue. If a couple is never arguing or bickering, there’s a chance one of them is bottling everything up and making themselves unhappy.
Arguing may not be the most productive way of sharing problems, but it can serve a useful purpose – in that it usually involves both sides of a couple saying what’s on their mind.
Just because arguments can be a good way of venting things, it doesn’t mean that you should start arguments or shout at your partner every time you’re annoyed with them. If you can avoid getting into a fight, you should.
However, if you feel that a disagreement is about to escalate, you might find the following tips useful:
Take time out: Sometimes it’s a good idea to just walk away from the situation until you’ve both cooled down. Having a bit of time to think should help you to see things more clearly and then you can talk things over when you’re not already feeling emotional or upset. This can minimise the risk of saying something hurtful and just making things worse.
Use ‘I’ phrases and not ‘you’ phrases: Rather than phrasing your comments as attacks, talk about how you feel. That way, you’re taking the blame out of it and instead, are taking responsibility for your own emotions. It can also be good to comment more generally on the situation – that way, it becomes something to solve together rather than being someone’s fault.
Let it go: A lot of conflict is caused by one or both partners being unwilling to forgive minor things or holding onto things that have annoyed them. Being a bit more forgiving can make things so much easier. This doesn’t mean letting someone walk all over you – it just means letting bygones be bygones rather than holding grudges.
Communicate openly in general: Open and honest communication in relationships is so important and can help you head off an argument before it even begins. Don’t keep things hidden and expect your partner to know what’s wrong. Neither of you are mind readers!
Get more advice from Relate about coping with arguments, including: what to do if you feel your partner is always criticising you, how to cope with the little things that annoy you about your partner and how to recognise emotional abuse.
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