7 Effective Ways To Defuse Potentially
Explosive Arguments With Your Partner
Even in the healthiest of relationships, arguments are an inevitability for most couples.
Still, arguing with our partners is often a very upsetting, emotionally draining experience. When we argue, we often know what emotional “hot buttons” to push that will send our mate over the edge.
Words said in hurt and anger can cut like knives, leaving behind lingering resentments that can fester if not addressed.
Our mouths do not have a backspace key. Contrary to the old adage about “Stick and stones…,” our words can cut as deep as daggers — leaving behind scars often more damaging than physical ones.
Fortunately, there are constructive and healthy ways to handle disagreements within your relationship when they occur.
The following are seven effective strategies that can be used to defuse potentially volatile arguments.
SPECIAL NOTE: Acts of abuse and violence are never acceptable. If you are in an abusive relationship, there is help. Please visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline web site or call 1–800–799–7233 for help 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
1. Make an agreement with yourself to control your temper
Raging tempers in an argument can be like adding gasoline to a bonfire. When conflicts threaten to get heated, resolve to do everything in your power to deescalate the situation. Take a deep breath and count to ten; go for a walk to clear your head; tell your partner you feel it is best for you both to take a time out and revisit the conversation when you have cooled off. The main goal of this strategy is to acknowledge your feelings while remaining in the driver’s seat by controlling your reactions.
2. Think before you speak
Our mouths do not have a backspace key. Contrary to the old adage about “Stick and stones…,” our words can cut as deep as daggers — leaving behind scars often more damaging than physical ones. If you find yourself on the verge of saying something you may regret, refer to strategy number one STAT.
3. Make an honest attempt to view the situation from your partner’s perspective
By no means does this mean you must agree with your partner’s position. However, attempting to see the situation from their perspective may give you more insight as to why they feel the way they do. Often what you are arguing about may not be the real underlying issue. Placing yourself in their shoes may help you uncover the true root of the conflict.
4. Ask questions. Then actively listen
Asking questions, then actively listening is one of the most powerful and effective strategies to employ in defusing arguments before they reach DEFCON 3. Look, I realize this is much easier said than done. You two are arguing because you are pissed! Still, it helps to remember most arguments stem from a feeling of not being heard. Showing genuine concern for your partner by asking them thoughtful questions about their feelings and perspective — then focusing on their responses and acknowledging their feelings —demonstrates to them you do indeed hear them and that you care. It is difficult to remain irate after coming to such a realization.
5. Take into account possible internal/external influences
Occasionally, arguments arise from internal and external pressures we are under. The stressors of life, including: illness, business and/or professional challenges, depression, financial woes, etc., can cause us to have a very short fuse. In times like those, extending a little grace to your partner — as well as yourself — is the necessary balm.
6. Express yourself clearly
Say what you mean and mean what you say.
7. Agree to Disagree
Often this is the simplest solution. We must remember even though we love and care for our partners, we are also two separate, complex human beings with our own unique experiences, perspectives, ideologies, and opinions. So the occasional disagreement is inevitable. Often agreeing to disagree with mutual respect is the most expedient way to move on.
Finally, arguments in your relationship should not always threaten to initiate World War III.
Remember to always be respectful of your partner’s feelings and try see matters from their point-of-view. Doing so can lead to a better understanding of the real issues in question — and how you both can work together to resolve them in a healthy and constructive way.