“Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.”
Relationships are not built on words alone, yet their ability to deflate or uplift your partner is critical to building trust.
Positive words encourage and help establish a connection.
Learning to Wait and Respond is Essential to Constructive Arguing.
When under verbal attack from a partner, boss, or friend, let the knee jerk, confusion, and emotions pass before responding. Like any new behavior, takes practice. However, it is the key to disagreeing constructively and in a healthy manner.
Yes, it is tough when you are in the middle of a heated argument to hold your tongue, especially if the other person is not fighting fair. Waiting to use a well-thought-out response has positive and effective results.
First - you will not bear the brunt of whiplashed emotions.
Second - you will not have that lingering toxicity that comes from lashing out. When we speak before thinking something through, it does not come from a place of compassion and understanding; instead, it’s our pain turned to anger from not hearing what we wanted.
Third - you will have built trust in your capacity for self-control and that you can debate without name-calling or resorting to snide, hurtful comments that you later regret.
Avoid Overly Dramatic Words Such as ALWAYS, NEVER, or NO WAY.
When used in an argument, these words and phrases scream unwillingness to listen and be open to change. When you say to your partner, “you always make me feel unimportant, or “you never make me feel important,” this immediately puts the other person on the defense. These words are nonspecific.
Instead, you may phrase your feelings by saying: “when you work so much overtime, I feel unimportant.”
Own Your Emotions vs. Blaming your Partner for how you Feel.
How you feel is due to your own experiences and expectations. Communicate your expectations, your needs, what you like and dislike, and what hurts you. Don’t assume that simply because you have been in a long-term relationship, your partner can read your emotions.
Let’s face it, human beings are dynamic, as our bodies and minds are not static. Subtle day to day changes in how you feel can impact how you communicate.
Don’t blame and shame. Own how you feel and learn to understand your interior landscape.
Know Your Limits.
Try to avoid arguing when you are tired or feeling hungry or when you are already upset about something else in your life.
Setting boundaries about when to argue helps couples establish rules around debating something for which they are disagreeing. Set aside time to talk and debate on whatever it is that needs discussing.
If you feel exhausted from a long day at work, and on top of that, you’re starving, it is probably not an ideal time to discuss an in-law you don’t particularly get along with coming to visit. Pick a specific time to hash out the problem or issue.
Leave the Past Where it Belongs, in the Past.
Stay on point with the problem or topic you are discussing, arguing. Dragging out old hurts from your emotional storage closet only fuels anger and dilutes whatever you are talking about at that moment. Deal with the issue at hand and learn not to let stored frustration over something fester.
Get it out in the open and deal with it. Putting off arguing allows more time for resentment and your mind to create additional scenarios that do not exist.
For example, if you want to talk to your partner about spending more time with you, listing all their past insensitive sins regarding the subject does nothing but force them into defending themselves over the past.
Try taking a positive approach where you can both move forward and find a solution together; “I would like to spend more time with you. Can we start walking twice a week in the evening?”
Badgering Leads to Dead Ends. Solutions Create Movement and Space.
Constructive communication can lead to meaningful relationships that may have otherwise been sabotaged by misunderstandings.
Practice positive, non-aggressive ways to get your point heard and watch as your life and relationships blossom.
If you are struggling with fighting in your marriage or relationship, we are here to help with Imago Relationship Workshops and Relationship Therapy. We have Online Couples Therapy and Couples Workshops too!
This blog post was written by Mara Fisher, LCSW, MCC.
Mara is a Licensed Psychotherapist and Master Certified Coach. She is also a Certified Imago Therapist and Advanced Imago Therapist.
Mara's career has grown out of a gift of intuition – which she's been aware of since childhood – and a natural inclination for using that gift to help empower others. Guiding and coaching feel as adventurous to her as the way she's lived her life. Born in New York City, Mara took European trips in her youth and has lived in England, France, and New Mexico in the United States.
Mara believes the boldness and confidence she gained through taking risks and expanding boundaries have contributed to her personal and professional successes. She loves seeing the joy in her clients when they find the courage to challenge themselves and transform their lives as well.
Mara has been a perpetual student, always exploring her inner self by learning new skills and techniques that help her to understand herself, other cultures, and what it is that makes us human. She applies that learning in a way that enables her clients to live fully in the present, to face the challenges in their futures, and to live their dreams.
For nearly three decades, Mara has focused on methods that help her clients realize that they already have answers to their questions. Instead of letting them give their power to her because she can often intuit what is going on in their lives, she can help them claim their power and solve their own problems.
Today Mara serves clients all over the globe through telephone and email communications. Her approach with each individual is uniquely shaped by who the person is and by their circumstances and needs. Tools and techniques selected for each client come from the expertise she's built during her career.
Check out Mara's website too!