How to Defuse an Argument

How to Defuse an Argument

Every couple has arguments. It's a reality of intimate relationships that has existed for t housands of years, ever since human being s started to come up with words meant to hurt and insult each other. If you've had even one serious relationship, you've almost inevitably gotten into a few fights, and you know how bitter they can become. These fights do not necessarily have to be explosive, however. A minor disagreement between partners can easily turn into a huge spat because the attitudes and actions of each spur the other on. Here are a few tips that may help you and your partner avoid this kind of emotional escalation.

1) Take turns speaking and listening to each other

Too many arguments get out of hand because each party continuously cuts the other off. When you're speaking to someone, and you're convinced that your opinion is the correct one, you will naturally have the urge to figuratively hammer that opinion into the head of the other so that they can better understand the truth of it. However, this method of argument necessarily involves keeping the other person from expressing their opinion, because it can needlessly complicate the whole situation.

This is the thought process at work when two people keep interrupting each other during an argument. Each time it happens, the person being cut off gets more irritated and angrier that their own opinion is not being considered and is all the more likely to cut off the interrupter in turn, sending the discussion into a spiral of heat and emotion. Cut-offs are usually verbal, but they can also be physical – for example, body language indicating that you are no longer listening, up to and including turning your back or walking away.

Interruptions and cut-offs should absolutely be avoided in any argument between intimate partners. Unless you are aiming to break up with your boyfriend or girlfriend, you should let them express their view and, once they are done, counter with your own. Cutting your partner off is a great way of telling them that their views and opinions count for nothing and, by extension, that you have no respect for them.

2) If the argument escalates, step back and cool off

Sometimes it is impossible to defuse an argument right away, especially if it's about an important issue. It might also be the case that your partner will just not stop talking, in which case allowing them to continue without cutting them off will keep you from getting a single word into the conversation. If your discussion looks like it's going to end up as a full-on fight, the best course of action is to withdraw from the argument in a way that indicates you'd like to continue talking about the problem later. This is the most effective way to keep an argument from getting out of hand.

Be sure to make it clear that you're not simply turning your back on your partner and that you want to resolve the issue at a later time. Walking away without a word could be interpreted instead as a total rejection, so you should explicitly say that you do care about the subject being discussed , but that you'd like to give the both of you time to cool off. When you meet again later, you may decide that the issue you were arguing about just wasn't that important, or that there's an easy compromise each of you can make to come to an agreement.

3) Don't make any statements that you might regret

In the midst of a heated argument, we sometimes have the urge to say something very final and definite. Statements like "I wish I had never met you", "You disgust me", or a suggestion that your partner is greedy, mean, an idiot, or a pervert all qualify, and they can all end the conservation on an extremely sour note – and possibly with a break-up.

When your emotions are running high, you might indulge the desire to really hurt your partner with some biting comment such as one of these. Depending on the nastiness or the truth of the comment, your partner might just brush it off, or they might treat it as a serious insult. Some comments are able, all on their own, to end a relationship forever. Unless you're aiming for a rough break-up on bad terms, don't make any serious attacks on the character or abilities of your partner in the course of an argument. This rule also extends to snide, off-hand comments whispered under your breath, and even to insulting gestures or looks. Such actions can deliver the very same message that you have no respect for your partner, and that your only desire is to hurt them in any way possible.

4) Don't cave in to unreasonable demands

Arguments can be incredibly stressful, and many people try to end them as quickly as possible. Depending on the importance of the subject you're fighting over, however, you should not end the argument by simply agreeing to everything your partner says. Caving in to the demands your partner may make will simply make you miserable in the long run, especially if those demands are extreme or unreasonable. If your partner asks that you give up a beloved hobby, or that you stop seeing a good friend, or anything else similarly controlling, giving in will effectively hand over control of your life to them. A healthy relationship has no place for control, with one partner being dominated by the other. Stand your ground and show resolve, and if you and your partner can't come to an agreement, try stepping back for a while and returning to the issue later. If you end a fight at any cost, you will only end up further poisoning your relationship if the underlying causes of your disagreement haven't been addressed.

Every couple has a different way of working out its differences, but these broad suggestions will hopefully help you maintain a healthy, stable, and happy relationship with your partner.

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