Arguments are normal in a relationship – they’re bound to happen. Especially the small little niggly ones. And even more so during lockdown, when we suddenly find we’re spending far more time around our spouse. (It brings both love and war! Like, why can’t he just do the dishes? Why does he have to spend his whole day on video games? You feel me? Uh huh!) So here’s some quick relationship tips to diffuse an argument with your partner, faster. It will result in your relationship becoming far stronger. After all, if you can better handle conflict, you can handle anything!
How To Prevent an Argument With Your Partner
Before we get into it, I thought it would be a good idea to look at how we can prevent an argument with your partner. I mean, wouldn’t it be great if you could stop them before they happen, and reduce the number of arguments you have?
These tips will also help to calm you down when you feel an argument bubbling up, so make sure you don’t just read these tips, but actually implement them too.
#1 Always Keep The Outcome You Want In Mind
I’m going to start off with this one, because it influences everything else I’m going to say in the rest of this article. It sounds simple – self explanatory even. But in the heat of the moment, we let our frustrations take over and we forget what we even want to happen here.
Usually arguments are caused as a result of a disagreement, or frustration. They start because we’re not happy about something and want some sort of change – and vice versa when an argument is started by your partner, or is a mutual thing.
It might be that your partner is constantly on their phone and not making enough time for you. It might be that you feel like you’re doing all the work around the house and you just want them to pull their weight a little more. Or it might be that you’re concerned about your finances and you want the two of you to discuss them, but he / she just isn’t interested which makes you feel like everything’s left on you to deal with.
Whatever it is, with every argument, there is an outcome that both you, and your partner want. Sometimes this is the same, sometimes it’s different. But, instead of focusing on the problem or issue in hand – think about the end result you want, the resolution. Then work back to see how you can get it…
Let’s take the housework example. When you see your partner sat there, leaving all the chores to you, to play on video games – don’t bomb over there straight away. Think, okay – if I interrupt him now, I’m just going to rile him up (we’ll talk about timings shortly.) That’s not going to make him do anything to help me, he’ll just end up snapping and that will create bad feeling. It won’t achieve anything.
NOTE: You’re not holding off because you feel like you’re treading on eggshells. You’re just being tactical about your approach because – let’s say – you’ve tried going about it in this way before and it hasn’t worked. So what’s the point in doing it again, if you know you won’t get the desired outcome?
You’re therefore better to wait on it, get on with what you were going to do, then raise the topic with him that evening, when you’re snuggled down together… That will be a far better time and situation! Don’t be confrontational, just show that you’re tired and a little fed up. This will make your partner reason with you better, and be more likely to actually listen.
When you speak, you don’t throw around accusations or insults, you also don’t even bring up the video games – otherwise he’ll think it’s just a dig about that. Instead, you explain how you feel and that you’d like some more help around the house. When he understands and agrees, don’t leave it there. It’s likely to be just words and no action otherwise. You want to make sure a positive result comes out of this. So you discuss and agree on the allocation of tasks, starting from tomorrow.
You also discuss what he thinks you should do if he doesn’t keep to his word. Then you know how to address it if the change you want doesn’t happen, but you’re both on the same page about it from the get-go and it’s a mutual agreement.
You see? No upset. No drama. But the end result you want. That’s why you should always keep it in mind and use this to influence the way you go about addressing any issues.
#2 Pick Your Time Right
I touched on this a little bit above, so we may as well talk about it next. When it comes to arguments, timing is key. See when you’re annoyed about something, it’s easy to just go firing off in the heat of the moment, but this isn’t always the best thing.
For starters, everything is fresh and raw, which means there’s a hell of a lot more fire within you that is likely to explode if you’re not careful! By not acting straight away, it allows you a little time to think more clearly, think about what you actually want to say and address it better.
Secondly, just because you’re fired up and ready to talk about something right there and then, doesn’t mean it’s the best time. Your partner may be busy doing something, so if you interrupt that to vent about something that’s potentially a touchy subject, it’s just going to put your partners guard up and get the conversation off on the wrong foot.
So be clever about it. Sit on how you feel for an hour or so and then raise it at the right moment. If the issue is something that’s especially important to you, ask your partner if you can have a conversation with them later and then ask when works for them.
It’s all about communicating properly, having that calmness and understanding. It makes all the difference and really reduces arguments with your partner.
NOTE: Please Don’t Fester
Picking the right time to approach an issue is important, but I’m talking short-term, within a day or so, not long term. Often arguments become bigger when you’ve been sitting on these feelings for a while, ruminating, and getting more worked up over them.
A study was actually done on this, and researcher’s found that “the length of time each member of a couple spent being upset [when in conflict] was strongly correlated with their long-term happiness.” So if you have a problem – talk about it, don’t let it build up. It can result in small problems, becoming big ones otherwise, and you certainly don’t want that.
#3 Assess If It’s Reasonable
Last but not least in the prevention section, I want you to consider if what you’re about to ‘kick off about’ is actually reasonable. So let’s go back to the video game and housework example…
You’re at home in lockdown and let’s be fair, the situation is far from ideal. Let’s say your partner does (mostly) pull his weight around the house. He could do more, but he’s still doing a fair bit, so it’s not really a huge issue. What you’re actually more irritated by is the fact that he then chooses to play on video games for the rest of the day. He’s happy enough, just doing his own thing. But it irritates you.
You already feel pent up, you want something to do, you’d kind of like the company from him and his suggestion to go out on a walk or do something together, but instead – he’s just sat online, ‘happy as Larry’, laughing with his mates.
In this situation, there’s not really a problem. Or there doesn’t need to be. You’re just frustrated and are taking your frustrations out on him. (Which by the way, is pretty normal, we’re all human after all.)
What You Should Do…
When you go back to my first point and realise the outcome you want (to be less bored and to have more effort from him), combining this with the rational thinking that you’re probably not being reasonable here… you’ll then decide to not start an argument or go in there all guns blazing… After all, point two has already got you trained up with the importance of timing!
Instead, you’ll find something to keep yourself busy, you’ll do your thing too and you’ll just bring a suggestion into conversation whilst you’re cooking tea or something. Like…
“Babe, I’m really struggling with this lockdown stuff. I know you’re keeping busy with your friends, but could we spend a little time together tomorrow? Maybe do [suggestion] or [suggestion]?”
Know what you want, and ask for it. Don’t expect your partner to be a mind-reader or come up with all the solutions to your problems!
By doing this, you’re still working towards the outcome you want (with far more success than if you’d have blown it up into an argument!) and you’re avoiding the conflict that puts strain on your relationship. Win, win!
How To Diffuse An Argument With Your Partner
Moving on now, let’s say the sh*t has already hit the pan – or so to speak – and you’re in the middle of an argument. You know the outcome you want, you know you’re not making a fuss out of nothing (the way you feel is perfectly reasonable) and you even waited for the right time to approach it. Yet still, it ended up in a row.
In this case, if you want to diffuse an argument with your partner, you have to…
#1 Remain very calm
I know it’s frustrating and your partner may be getting all riled up – or worse, saying nothing and seeming to not care at all, which only annoys you more! But all you can do is handle this the best that you can, and also set that as an example to your partner. Take a couple of deep breaths, make sure you don’t raise your voice and keep that outcome you want, firmly in the front of your mind. If you can’t do this…
#2 Take time out
You’re not running away from the situation, you don’t need to storm out. Just say to your partner that you need 5 minutes to calm down because you don’t want to make things worse. This will actually reduce the intensity of the situation if discussions started to get a little heated, so when you go back into the room, you’re both more likely to be able to talk through things properly.
#3 Listen to what your partner is saying
Nothing is going to get resolved if you just force your views and opinions on your partner and don’t listen to what he / she has to say. Believe it or not, but we’re not always right. You have to see things from the other person’s side, because how they feel, matters too.
When you listen to what your partner is saying, you’re more able to come to a mutual agreement that reaches your desired end outcome, whilst keeping the both of you happy. Compromises often have to come from both sides so that you can then meet in the middle. This is an essential part of communicating effectively with your partner. So work on it, okay?
#4 Admit your own mistakes in that area
If you’re just firing out criticism to your partner, it’s going to put their guard up and make them more defensive. So if you want to diffuse an argument faster, take responsibility for the part you may have played in this. Or the things that you may have done to contribute to this now being an argument. To give you an example to demonstrate what I mean, let’s go back to the house-hold chore argument. In this situation you could say,
“I know I’ve probably gone about this in the wrong way, I’m sorry. I just find it so frustrating.” Or, “I get that I just automatically do the housework then hold it against you if you don’t think to do something. That only makes me resentful. It’s not fair and I understand that you don’t think about it in the same way that I do, nor do I always give you chance.”
By doing this, you’re showing a level of understanding then, you see? It’s also more likely to encourage your partner to recognise where they’ve gone wrong too.
#5 Don’t be afraid to show your emotion
So often in an argument we talk about THINGS – things that were done wrong. But in order to communicate with your partner more effectively, it’s important to talk about feelings. If your partner did something that upset you, instead of focusing on the thing, focus on how it made you feel, and explain that to them. That’s usually what is driving this conversation more than anything, so it’s important to put more attention onto it. It will bring the two of you closer, help your partner to understand you better and make the two of you more aligned.
#6 Stick to the topic
If you want to diffuse an argument with your partner, faster, you need to make sure it stays on topic. When you are irritated it’s easy for the scope of a fight to broaden, and for the dispute to become a chance for both sides to vent their annoyance on any and all topics. This only makes things escalate and causes more problems than there needs to be. So focus on the thing at hand. This also leads me onto my next point…
#7 Don’t get nasty
Come on now, I know you’re annoyed, but you don’t need to turn things personal and damage the relationship over a simple disagreement. Remember, you can’t take back the things you say and some insults can cut deep. So be mindful of what you’re saying and how you’re making your partner feel. It will only make things harder for you to come back from otherwise. And think about it – is it really worth it? You love this person. You’re looking to work through any issues. So don’t say something you’ll later regret.
#8 Have an inside signal
If you recognise that the two of you are pretty fiery people and can therefore find yourselves in arguments when you don’t need to be – have an ‘inside signal’ that you both use and agree upon. This should be something simple, but funny, which brings the two of you back to reality. Or, it could be an action. So you could say,
“Look, I don’t want to argue with you. When we find ourselves arguing again, shall we just hug the other person and not let go until it stops?!”
This is actually pretty cute and it works well. I mean, how can you stay angry when the person is squeezing you to death or doing a silly signal to make you laugh? Obviously this only really works on trivial little arguments. More serious ones need to be treated properly. But this really helps to diffuse an argument with your partner, especially when it doesn’t even need to be one! You will then both recognise you were being silly and talk through things properly.
#9 Let go of your ego
This isn’t about ‘winning’, it’s about you two working through any problems, like mature adults. Sometimes an argument ends up carrying on and on, because the two of you don’t want to back down and want to prove the other person wrong. But trying to win the argument will only make reconciliation harder.
Instead, in order to diffuse the argument faster – try to learn to agree to disagree. This is what actually makes you the bigger person, and it will make the both of you far happier. Talk to your partner about the importance of this too. You don’t have to agree on everything, but you do have to respect the other person and be willing to back down for the sake of your relationship. Both of you are the winners then!
#10 Watch your body language and tone
The way you act in an argument, actually makes a big difference. You could say the same thing, but in two different ways, and it could be interpreted completely differently. Don’t shout, don’t scream, don’t be aggressive. Hold yourself in a way you would be able to watch back, and feel proud. If your partner is sat down, sit down too, and sit back in your chair, posture relaxed. Speak neutrally, and with care if you can. It will completely change the dynamics from an argument into a discussion.
At the end of it all, be sure to ‘kiss and make up’. Don’t hold on to tension or bad feeling. Just let it go! Remember, we ourselves are not perfect, so we can’t expect our partner to be either. It’s about learning and growing together, to become the best partners (and people) that we can be.
If you do all of the things mentioned above, I promise you, you will diffuse far more arguments with your partner and end up becoming stronger as a couple for it. But – and this is a big but – you have to actually take all of this on board, remember it when you need it and really implement it.
After all, it’s all well and good you wanting to improve in this area, but you actually have to put in the work to create the change, and that’s where so many people go wrong. Vouch today to do things differently!
Hope this helps. If you have any questions, feel free to drop them in the comments box below. Be sure to also subscribe to this blog and I’ll drop you an email once every couple of weeks, with new posts that will help to make your relationship stronger. Take care.