While all couples in long-term relationships argue occasionally, arguments need not result in hurt feelings, frustration, or one person storming out of the room. Following are some tips that can help you have productive arguments:
Ground rules are clearly defined agreements about what is and what is not allowed during arguments. Some examples might be:
o No violence of any kind [Note: includes slamming down hand, book, or other object]
o No name-calling
o No bringing up past issues
o No yelling
Our Ground Rules:
Most couples have issues that predictably lead to arguments that don’t get resolved. Circle any of the following that apply to you and/or your partner:
Drugs (includes prescription) Gambling
In-laws Sexual relationship
Internet use Sports (watching/participating)
Music (performing/listening) Television
Neighbors Work Other:__________________________
In order to resolve recurring conflicts, you must be willing to put aside your ego and give up being “right.” Rather than viewing your partner as a member of the opposing team, picture the two of you standing shoulder-to-shoulder. Now you are on the same team. Together you are ready to face the conflict at hand.
Once you have committed to working with your partner, it is necessary to be accountable for your behavior. Ask yourself, “Do I…?”
…maintain eye contact when speaking or listening?
…wait until my partner is finished speaking before I respond?
…stay on topic?
…discuss this issue until it is settled or we agree to a time out?
It may be necessary to take a recess from discussing a given topic, due to heightened emotions or time constraints. Time-outs should include:
1) Reason - “I’m getting too upset to talk about this any more.”
2) Request - “Can we end this discussion for now?”
3) Specific plan – “How about talking again tomorrow after dinner?”
4) Agreement from partner – “How does that sound to you?”
Reference source: The Couple’s Survival Workbook: What YOU Can Do to Reconnect with Your Partner and Make Your Marriage Work by David Olsen and Douglas Stephens