Many couples with kids go through this. Summer comes, kids are running around the house, or maybe they went away for camp. And for most, work slows down a bit. There seems to be a bit of more time on your hands. Maybe it is because days are longer. And all of a sudden, you find that you are arguing more than usual with your spouse.
How is this happening?
Some arguing in relationships is normal. Arguments are part of relationships. But how is it that when one has more time to spend with one another, arguments increase? Well, even when good changes happen, they are sometimes hard to adjust to. For some couples, having more time to spend with one another, can cause more time to accentuate the difficulties that before neither had time to focus on. Basically, because there is more time to think about it, the flaws become more apparent.
But why do we argue?
During most arguments, the members of the relationship are trying to make their way at adjusting a boundary, or a relationship rule. For example, who is going to take out the trash? How late is one going to go out? How should money be spent? These are only some examples, but it could be anything really.
Some arguments are caused not so much about changing boundaries but about things that one might like to see happening differently; however, not fundamental to the relationship per se. This is more commonly known as bickering.If you find yourself in a point in your relationship that you are regularly arguing, or even you’d rather not talk to your spouse in order to avoid an argument, here are some things that you may want to consider doing.
4 Ways to End Arguments
1. Agree with your spouse
When an argument starts, if you agree with what your spouse is saying, the argument will decrease in intensity, possibly, immediately. Some of you might be nodding your head and say, why would I do that when my spouse is wrong? Agreeing with your spouse means agreeing with her feelings rather than the topic of discussion. For example, saying something like: “I can see how this situation can make you angry,” or “I did not mean to hurt your feelings when I did that” are some examples.
2. Use the old “I statements”
“I statements” help with expressing how one feels about something that someone does. This helps with expressing a concern without sounding accusatory or blaming. Here is an example: “I feel like you don’t want to talk to me when you are on the phone while we are out on a date,” rather than: “You are always on your phone!.” See the difference?
3. Keep your tone positive
Arguments happen not only based on what is being said but also the tone used. And, when we focus on the tone being positive, it is more likely that your choice of words will improve.
4. Pick your battles
Many years ago, I heard a couple that had over 30 years of marriage say: “We used to argue about me (the wife) not closing cabinet doors, and him (the husband) not turning lights off. So what did we do? I starting turning off lights and him closing cabinet doors without pointing it out anymore. Problem solved.” Are there some arguments that could be solved by using this approach?
Follow these tips, and remember that some arguing is normal. It’s not even about how much you argue, but about nourishing the relationship with quality time and positivity. A famous couples researcher, Dr. John Gottman says: “Marriages are much more likely to succeed when the couple experiences a 5 to 1 ratio of positive to negative interactions.” Nourishing the relationship generates the “cushion” to be able to have difficult conversations with more of an open mind to use the 4 tools mentioned above.
To your relationship success!
Your therapy friend,
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