We Just Can’t Stop Arguing!
Perhaps the most common reason that couples come to see me for marriage counseling is because they just can’t stop arguing. Whatever the topic, they just seem to end up arguing about it. They argue about whose turn it is to take the dog out, what activity to sign the kids up for even what activities to do on vacation! I’ve found that couples can turn just about anything into an argument.
So if this is you and you find your conversations tend to turn into arguments, here are a few tips that will help you end that nasty cycle and be able to talk with your spouse without it ending in an argument.
Tips to Help You Stop Arguing
Identify what you’re really arguing about. Let’s face it, whose turn it is to do the dishes isn’t really that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things. So why are you arguing about it? There’s something more to it that makes it important to you.
For example, you may feel that your spouse takes you for granted around the house so you choose to make an argument over the dishes because this is just another way you feel your spouse takes you for granted. You’re arguing about the dishes but what you’re really trying to communicate is that you feel like you’re taken for granted. Whatever you’re arguing about look deeper inside yourself to find out why you’re really arguing about it. There’s always a more important reason.
Talk about what you’re really arguing about. This is a continuation of the tip above. To actually talk about what you’re arguing about seems like a no brainer, right? Well, it’s really not. In fact, in my experience this is the biggest challenge for most couples.
Now that you’ve looked deeper inside yourself to discover why what you’re arguing about is so important, talk about that. Forget about the dishes. It isn’t really about the dishes. It’s about the fact that you feel taken for granted. Talking about the more personal meaning underlying the argument will always be more productive than arguing about superficial household chores.
Stay on Track. Lots of couples start discussing something then ten minutes later find themselves arguing about something else entirely. They don’t know even how they got there, or why they’re arguing about that now.
Pick a topic and stick to it. And make sure the topic you’ve picked is the deeper underlying matters identified above. This is also one of the biggest challenges for most couples I see. They’ll begin talking about the underlying issue (e.g. being taken for granted) and before they know it, they’re talking about some event that happened at last year’s Christmas party they’re both still upset about.
Sure, the event at last year’s Christmas party might be another example of how you felt taken for granted but now you’re talking about the Christmas party instead of being taken for granted. Remember, stay on track.
Be Quick to Apologize. Not every couple is perfect at communicating with each other. There will be times when you and your spouse ‘take the gloves off’ so to speak and have it out verbally with each other. Don’t be dismayed when this happens. In fact, it’s probably safe to expect it once in a while.
When it happens, be quick to apologize and move forward – even if it’s been a couple days since the blowup make sure to apologize. Recognize that you both said hurtful things and that it was a bad moment for both of you.
Try these ideas to help yourself stop arguing. Beyond just arguing a lot as a couple, there are also many personal reasons why you may find yourself arguing a lot with your spouse such as having personal difficulties managing stress or anger. Either way, if you find yourself going round and round over and over again and not really getting anywhere, then it may be time for you and your spouse to see a professional marriage counselor.
If you need some tips for finding a marriage counselor see my article ‘How to find a good marriage counselor’. There are many great counselors out there and you and your spouse deserve a happy relationship without so many arguments.
About the Author:
Aaron Anderson is a marriage counselor and owner of The Marriage and Family Clinic in Denver, Colorado. He has taught at the university level, presented at local and national conferences and is a regular contributor to various blogs and websites all related to marriage and families. He is also on the Board of Directors for the Colorado Association of Marriage and Family Therapy. You can view his blog at: http://Blog.TheMarriageAndFamilyClinic.com
You can also follow him on Twitter: @MarriageDr