Make Arguments Work for
You may think that couples should get along all
the time. But couples who learn how to argue successfully
actually have better relationships. Arguments needn't be bitter
or aggressive; in fact, the following tips can show you how to
"fight right" and strengthen your relationship.
The Three Stages of
The happiest couples go through three stages
during a disagreement: First, they say what's bothering them
using "I feel
" statements about specific
behaviors. Say: "I feel upset when you slam the door."
Not "You're so noisy!" Be positive, not negative. Say:
"I appreciate it when you call me if you're going to be
late;" not "If you don't tell me what time you're
coming home, dinner will be burnt!" each person listens to
the other's feelings without commenting, defending, or
Second, the partners discuss the details of
their disagreement. It's important that feelings about the
specific issue come up, but not about old issues.
Third, the couple negotiates until they can
agree. Sometimes all they can agree on is that they disagree.
Negotiation includes give and take. It's not helpful for one
person to say, "You're the one who wants the house clean.
You clean it." Then there is no give and take.
One common mistake is denying the other
person's feelings. Avoid statements such as "You don't
" Be honest. If possible, admit that you might be
wrong or might have done the behavior you're discussing. You'll
both feel less defensive. Don't assume your partner is "out
to get you." Assume your partner wants you to be happy.
"Cooperate" means "work together." A spirit
of cooperation helps you work together on solving a problem, not
battling each other. Put yourself in your partner's shoes. What
does the problem look like now? Many couples let their arguments
build: "You interrupted me again!" "Well, you
don't listen. What do you expect?" Stop and count to 10, or
take a 10-minute breather. You can lower the tension level to
help you focus again on the real issue.
Remember Why You Like Each
Often children, jobs or other obligations leave
couples little time together. They've forgotten how much they
once liked each other. Make a list of things you enjoy doing
together. Schedule a weekly date to do something on your list.
Spending special time together will let you like each other more.
Then you'll be less likely to argue and, when you do, it will be
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