Couples are going to argue. It’s something that happens in every relationship at some point or another. It also happens with varying frequencies among couples. Arguing can actually benefit a relationship in both the short and long term. Arguing is one way to show that both sides care. Indifference, or not saying anything when upset, leads to major resentment and an unstable environment. That being said, arguing can lead to more complex conflicts if not done in a way that is controlled and respectful. If not careful, conflicts can escalate to nasty fights that have lasting effects and consequences. This article will help guide couples to healthy argument resolution, and provide tips to deescalate couple conflicts.
5 Tips to Deescalate Couple Conflicts
- Keep your voice down. You can get your point across more effectively, and show your emotions without screaming. The person that yells the loudest is the not the person that is ‘right’ or the ‘winner’ of the argument. Remaining calm shows maturity and a desire to get past the problem. It also sends a message to your partner, and sets the rules or standards of the conflict.
- Set the ground rules. Couples should have open and honest discussions about how to effectively communicate with each other even during times of argument. Respecting each other’s rules or expectations can go a very long way in ensuring that arguments do not escalate and turn into a serious conflict. Include in the ground rules that the argument is suspended if one of the party’s violates a ground rule. That might be an unorthodox way of doing things, but fighting fairly and with respect goes a long way to building a strong and lasting relationship. You don’t stop loving or caring about your partner during an argument, so work hard to ensure the highest level of respect.
- Stay focused. How many times have you been in an argument about one thing, and then it veers off in to a thousand other things? This is a huge reason why arguments can snowball into large conflicts. When upset about one thing that just happened, it does no good to bring up something from five years ago that still bothers you. Nothing gets done this way. Everyone gets defensive, and the goal becomes winning the fight, not solving the problem. When an argument begins, focus on the specific issue at hand. Other unresolved issues should be addressed, just at a different time.
- Always be honest. Deescalating a conflict requires both parties to be honest and truthful with each other. When you express your real feelings openly, no matter how difficult it might be, so much more can get accomplished. Holding things back leads to resentment and further escalation. When things don’t get resolved, trouble will follow. State why you are upset, and give each other opportunities to respond. Work on taking accountability and forgiving. And work on communicating what is needed in order to forgive and move on from the hurt and/or pain. If your significant other accepts responsibility and apologizes sincerely, accept it.
- Get help when needed. Sometimes professional help is needed to deescalate a conflict. This is not a bad thing, nor is it uncommon. Trained psychologists, social workers, and marriage and family therapists can help couples work through their issues, and help to fix complex and simple problems that are presented. You will also be able to apply what you learned in therapy to future arguments or conflicts. The experienced team at Calming Waters Counseling Services have years of expertise in couples therapy, specifically focusing on conflict de-escalation and resolution.
Resolve to Resolve
There is no doubt that you and your partner will find yourselves in the middle of an argument or conflict during your relationship. It is a natural part of the evolution of being together. Don’t let these arguments escalate in to unworkable conflicts. By following the tips above, conflicts can be de-escalated using some very easy to use tools. Start by having a conversation with each other during peaceful moments. Don’t wait until your argument begins to put the tools in place. You should not fear or avoid conflict, but you should use these times as a way to really listen, learn, and strengthen your commitment to each other. Resolve to resolve your dispute, and you will be in a much better place.
You are allowed to be angry, but being hurtful, nasty, or mean is not helpful. Also, it is easy to go into what I call “petty land”. Stay out, as again being petty can be hurtful and it does not help resolve the conflict.