Relationships: Arguing with Your Partner

In every relationship, there will invariably be problems. Arguments will occur and feelings will be hurt. The key to long lasting relationships has always been communication. Relationships will be made or broken on the type of communication that is involved.

There are several steps to assessing your emotional state and if it is the time to approach your partner about an issue that you have. First, you must evaluate your own feelings.

Are you overreacting because of stress or tiredness? Sometimes understanding that you are overreacting can lead to a civil argument. Accepting your partners’ discussion at face value and understanding why the issue affects them can be a deterrent to overreaction and, quite simply, keep the argument on an even level of open dialog rather than accusations and blame.

If you are feeling anger at someone or something else, admitting this to yourself before you engage in an argument with your partner may allow you to rethink if the proper time to have a discussion is later, rather than now. Anger is an emotion that feeds on negative feelings. When an argument occurs, and the anger is meant for someone else, you hurt your partner with the level of your anger and animosity. In layman terms that is called taking your anger out on someone else. Understand that to have a communicative discussion you must stick to the issue and the emotions involved with that particular issue only.

Are you hormonal at the moment and feeling unusually irritable or sensitive? Hormones make the world go ’round. How we act, react, and perceive actions towards us are determined by hormones. Many women going through premenstrual syndrome will verify that the hormonal imbalance causes them to be irritable or overly sensitive. As well, frustrations and stress will set off hormonal imbalances that cause you to overreact or be unreasonably sensitive. Understanding this and making your partner aware of the problem will result in better discussions. At the least, it will result in an understanding that potentially argumentative issues are not discussed during this time.

If your mood is affected by illness, be aware of this and make your partner aware, as well. Often when we are sick, we do not wish to deal with any problems other than the sickness. Patience level for everything external drops dramatically. If you are the partner, understand that an argumentative discussion may be seen as insensitive to your sick loved ones needs.

Most often, when one assesses their feelings, they may find that their discussions are more hostile due to one of these factors. Understanding that these factors affect your attitude does not make for a better discussion. After assessing these about yourself, then you must asses them about your partner. Both parties doing this will result in a complete understanding of where each person is at on an emotional level.

So, knowing the answers to these questions, how do you decide that it is the right time to bring the issue up and engage in the discussion?

Are you feeling guilty? When your partner approaches you about a problem, is your reaction defensive because you feel guilty? At this point, what should you do? Often, if you feel guilty then whether you are wrong or not is no longer the question. Admit that you feel guilty and your reaction will be more level headed. When an issue is brought up, most times your partner just wants you to admit that you were wrong and understand how that affected them. This may not be the proper approach to starting a discussion, but realizing that you feel guilty, and admitting that certainly is the proper response and keeps the discussion amicable.

Are you avoiding saying you are sorry? No one wants to be wrong. No one truly wants to humble him or herself enough to apologize. Instead, in an argument, they get defensive. The first line of defensiveness is often to turn the argument around to the other partners’ faults. This increases the hostility of an argument and makes it more likely to create hard feelings and no resolution. Reconciling yourself to the fact that you were wrong and apologizing for it is the key to strong communication in a relationship. That is not to say that apologizing will always be enough, but it is never a bad start.

Bearing grudges will always succeed in destroying communication between couples. A relationship cannot handle grudges of the past. Often a partner will comment that the other will never let go of the past. Grudges are unresolved issues. You can spend as much time as you want talking about them, but eventually you must resolve them or they will continue to create the breakdown of effective communication.

What are you really arguing about? This is perhaps the most important question. Are you arguing about the one thing that is bothering you or are you using external reasons in your argument? Are you bringing up the past to make an argument on a present concern? Stick to the issue at hand, every argument does not need to cover every issue. Overwhelming your partner with all their faults and problems will only ensure that the relationship becomes stuck in a cycle of blame and lack of resolution.

When both partners run through these assessment questions and find the answers, then the steps towards a more effective communication can begin. The key to this assessment is honesty to yourself. When each partner is honest with himself or herself, it is far easier to be honest with your significant other.