When it comes to those small, petty arguments that happen in every relationship, sometimes it’s the smallest change in your behavior that can result in the most amazing, positive outcome in how your partner acts. It can really be that easy. Because, without a doubt, you know what infuriates and upsets your partner—so what you need to do is make changes that demonstrate that you respect and care enough about them, that you’re willing to behave differently for them. This will encourage them to do the same for you.
Squabbling happens—it’s a part of all relationships. But you can minimize the arguments and grow closer together if you do the following:
Pay close attention to what your partner is saying when you’re having an argument—then take the time to reflect back what you heard; communicate that you understand their point of view, and validate their feelings. Once you do that, your partner will not have to defend themselves and will be open to hearing your point of view and what you need as well. Oftentimes your partner just wants to vent and be heard, it’s not an attack on you. It’s the simplest way to put the brakes on a brewing battle.
2. Pick your Battles
Your partner will do things that drive you crazy. It’s part of what happens when two people become a couple. So instead of arguing every time your partner does something that annoys you, ignore the stuff that’s really not that big of a deal. Make a conscious choice about what issues really matter to you and focus on those. This is my top pick to ward off a petty, silly argument. It’s all about letting go of the small stuff. It’s so hard to do in the short run, but you’re in your relationship for the long haul.
3. Lighten Things Up
If you start to feel frustrated and ready to snap at your partner because you don’t like what they’re saying or they’re getting annoying, then a great technique is for you and your partner to come up with a word that each of you say when the tension starts to build. You could lovingly say “chill” and your partner would humorously respond, “Life goes on.” As soon as you say your word and your partner responds you both chuckle and the frustration, anger, and irritation just melt away. (This one really works for me. It’s so simple and I love it.)
4. Express Your Gratitude
No matter how long you’ve been together, express your appreciation and love on a daily basis. Say Thanks for making dinner, or Thanks so much for going to the doctor with me, or I love you more today than yesterday, or If I had to do it over again I would marry you in a heartbeat! The more valued you make your partner feel the less likely you both are to pick fights with each other. Compliment your partner, be his/her cheerleader, and let your partner know that you’re so happy to wake up every day next to him or her. We all need to be reminded of how important we are to our partners. It feels so good to hear it!
5. Say, Sorry
We all do things we wish we could take back. It happens. But, you can take ownership and responsibility for something you’ve done that deserves an apology. The best apologies are genuine, sincere, and describe how you’ll act differently in the future. The more you demonstrate to your partner that you don’t have to be right and that the relationship is more important than your pride, the happier the both of you will be.
6. Don’t Blame
We all do this one. We say things like, You never…, You always…, If only you didn’t…, You should…, etc. The more you point your finger at your partner and demand he or she do something else, the more rapidly the argument will escalate. Here’s what you can do instead. Start with “I” rather than “you” statements. For example, say, I get so aggravated when you leave your shoes right where I walk. Don’t say, You are so frigging lazy you can’t even put your shoes where they belong. Say, I was so scared when you were late the other night and you didn’t text me. Don’t say, You were so inconsiderate and cruel for not calling or texting me that you were going to be late. Say, I felt embarrassed when you told Lexi that I did lousy on my final exam. Don’t say, You were so thoughtless and out of line to tell Lexi about my lousy grade.
7. Know What Sets You Off
There’s always going to be something about your partner that elicits and activates a chemical reaction within you and then, without warning, you instantaneously lash out. It almost feels like an involuntary response. Do something to stop yourself from reacting immediately when he/she pushes your buttons. Bite your tongue (not too hard), take a deep breath, change your location, repeat a mantra, smile, etc. Also think about why you react so strongly. This could be an opportunity for you to discuss how you feel and what you need.
No matter what you do, you can’t avoid disagreements, but you can successfully manage them, minimize them, and most importantly you can prevent the major blowouts. Be kind and treat your partner with love, respect, and never take them for granted.
Fran Greene LCSW is a nationally renowned relationship expert. Flirting is her hobby, love is her passion, and her dream is for you to have a loving relationship. She has a private practice working with singles who want to find their perfect match and couples who want to improve their relationships. She is also a sought after online dating coach. In her book, Dating Again with Courage & Confidence, Fran makes dating uncomplicated, and helps singles reclaim their confidence, enjoy the dating process, and meet the love of their life. She is also the author of The Flirting Bible. Her upcoming book The Secret Rules of Flirting is available now for pre-order. Write a review for any of her books and receive a complimentary 30-minute telephone consultation.