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Why arguing could save your marriage

24th September '12

We all do it. Argue that is. But with new research stating that fighting could ultimately be the thing that could save your marriage, we’re suddenly intrigued. You mean that giving the cold shoulder, or skulking off to the pub in a strop could actually be a positive experience? Please, tell us more:

“Arguments happen because it’s impossible for two people to have the same opinions all of the time”, says psychologist Geoff Beattie. “It is important to realise that lack of ability and willingness to argue fairly often predicts of the demise of a relationship because issues not addressed tend to fester creating tension, distance and mistrust.  It’s no surprise to hear that venting is much better for a relationship than resenting. When couples are not truthful with each other about the way they feel this can often result in them resenting one another,” says Beattie. Talking, or even arguing if it comes to it, are much better ways of communicating than shutting everything away inside your head.

With sex, division of household chores, Money and work being at the top of our list when It comes to arguing, it’s no surprise that when times get tough and frustrations get the better of us, we end up screaming and shouting the house down. However everyone argues differently and  your arguing style can say a lot about relationship. “Sometimes people find they’re fighting battles that have far more to do with the past than the present, says Beattie. Feelings of rejection or betrayal in childhood can create sensitive areas that partners press without realising.   For example, a partner whose parent left suddenly in childhood may find themselves overreacting to a hastily arranged business trip, so bear this in mind and try not to use your partners weaknesses as weapons against them.

So how does a couple have a good bust up but resolve things harmoniously?The first thing you need to do is ascertain what it is you are fighting about. It may sound daft but so many couples can’t answer this when asked, or funnier still, say completely different things, says Marissa Peer, author of ultimate confidence: how to feel great about yourself every day. Make sure you understand what you are fighting about and don’t bring up any past arguments. If you are arguing about just one thing, the argument should be concluded in about ten minutes. However, bring historical fights into the mix and you could be shouting for a long time.

When it comes to the Do’s and don’ts of rowing, the rules are quite strict. There are things couples can do that can turn a simple little argument into something far greater. Something that could even effect the longevity of the relationship, explains Peer Contempt and mockery are two of the most destructive elements in a relationship and among the hardest things to recover from as they are so personal. Verbal contempt and mockery are the worst but mocking and being superior with body language is also very damaging, such as rolling your eyes, grimacing or sighing deeply. Instead of attacking your partner, remind yourself that you have having this argument in order to reach a solution. If you get side tracked by name calling and mockery the solution will never be found and the argument would have been pointless. By giving your partner respect, listening to what they have to say and then taking time to digest it, you are more likely to solve the argument whilst remaining on friendly ground.

It’s also good to analyse what’s worth arguing about and what isn’t. If you can feel resentment forming when you realise your husband has drunk the last of the milk ad hasn’t bothered to replace it, think about what is really upsetting you before you lash out, says Peer. Rather than the fact you are left with no milk for your tea, you might come to the conclusion that what is really bothering you is the fact that he doesn’t contribute to the running of the household very much. Instead of then shouting at him over milk, you can sit down and explain that you would like him to be more involved in household duties. A discussion like this will be far more beneficial to your relationship than screaming over something that might seem petty.

“Whereas some couples like huge screaming matches others refer for their frustrations to simmer inside, resulting in lots of bickering, day in and day out. Believe it or not, bickering is far more unhealthy than a huge blow our argument,” insists Beattie. “When you keep things bottled up inside your stress levels increase and it can actually be really damaging for your health. You are letting issues fester without getting them the full attention and time they need to be solved. By having a huge row we enable all of our TRUE feelings to be aired, therefore opening them up to solutions. The most important thing to do when you have a huge row is to shout and scream, but then sit down and solve. The solving should be the best bit, as it proves to you that you and your partner are willing to work together to make things right, proving that you have a relationship that can go the distance.

There are many skills we can use when arguing that can actually benefit our relationship, says Peer. When you are fighting try and focus on de-escalation. This means to lower the volume and temperature of the arguing. See if you can get your mate to calm down by talking more softly yourself. Another key skill for good arguing is to ask your lover what’s important to them about the thing you’re arguing over. Then shut up and LISTEN. You don’t have to agree, but just listening will make room for you to share your views and then you can often get to a compromise.

But what happens if you really can’t stop rowing? IF every time you try to talk about something serious, and it ends in a he fight then don’t panic, says Peer. Agree to write each other a letter saying what is upsetting you and then read it in separate rooms. Writing everything down enables you to gather your thoughts and focus on what is really important. Another technique is to sit opposite each other with a stop watch where you can each talk for seven minutes whilst the other person listens. This way you both have time to explain yourself without any interruptions and it focuses you to talk about the thing that is ACTUALLY bothering you, rather than going off on a tangent.
As lots of people know, the making up after an argument is usually the best bit. Once you have come to a conclusion make sure you reconnect with your partner straight away, says Peer. When you come to a conclusion, congratulate each other. By telling your partner how you appreciate they have handled a conflict in a good way then your relationship can go from strength to strength.

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