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Communicating More Effectively During Arguments
By Kim Lance, NEWSdial.com contributor

Anyone who has been in a close relationship with another person has most likely been in an argument with that person. Disagreement is a part of any healthy relationship, but it can also be destructive to a relationship if the disagreement is dealt with in a non-productive manner. Frustration is normal, no two people are exactly alike, but learning how to appropriately vent that frustration without hurting the other person or yourself can be difficult. In order to better understand proper ways to deal with relationship conflict, you must first recognize the communication techniques that can be destructive to a relationship.

Destructive Communication Method #1: Avoiding the Argument
While some people live for a good debate, many others hate to argue. They avoid a potential argument like the plague and do anything they can to steer their relationship away from any conflict. Often, those who try to stay away from disagreements end up sacrificing their own desires and needs in order to keep everything copasetic. This avoidance can be very destructive to any relationship.

Just because you ignore something that is bothering you doesn’t mean it is going to just go away. The frustration you are hiding will eat away at you and cause you more stress than the brief argument that might have occurred if you brought the topic up to your partner. Covering up problems can result in two scenarios: an unsatisfying relationship or a blowout fight.

The first scenario may not happen overnight, but can build over time. If you are legitimately bothered by something that your relationship partner is doing but you don’t tell them about it, they will most likely continue to do whatever is bothering you. You will find yourself constantly frustrated with your relationship partner, hoping that they will change but not doing anything to help them change. Eventually you will become dissatisfied with the relationship. Yes, if you voice your opinions about what is bothering you, it may spark an argument, but at least your partner will know it is a problem and the two of you have the potential to work together to overcome that problem.

In the second scenario, minor frustrations that are suppressed will eventually build up until you get overwhelmed and end up getting very angry with your partner. It may be a small little frustration that finally sets you off but, with all of your built up anger, you end up lashing out at your partner, leaving them hurt and confused. Your partner is left wondering why such a small issue made you so angry, not knowing that you anger stems from a bunch of suppressed frustrations.

Voicing your legitimate frustrations is necessary in order to alleviate those problems. A small argument might be worth a lifetime of internal stress and unhappy relationships.

Destructive Communication Method #2: Nagging and Nitpicking
While it is important to voice your frustrations, it is also important to first make sure that you have a valid argument. When in a relationship it is important to “choose your battles”. To avoid sticking your foot in your mouth, make sure you are complaining about something that does justify the argument it may bring.

It is easy to get very comfortable with your partner and feel you can call him or her on every little flaw they have or mistake they make. Because you are so close to each other, you feel you can speak openly, but, often, you may inadvertently be hurting your partner or your relationship. Examine the reasons why something is bothering you and, if you feel the reasons are valid then it may be worth brining it to your partner’s attention. However, if you get into a habit of nagging your partner about every little thing that bothers you, you are brining unnecessary arguments into the relationship.

How would you feel if your partner was constantly telling you “Why didn’t you call me the second you got home? Don’t you love me?” or “Don’t look at that other girl, I consider that cheating!” Not only are these invalid, over exaggerated statements that will usually start an unnecessary argument, but they are also clear windows into your own insecurity and can make you less attractive in the eyes of your partner. Your partner may begin to “walk on eggshells” around you if you are constantly getting on his or her case about every little thing.

If something bugs you but you know it is just a personal preference and not the fault of the other person, try voicing your problem in a way that will not automatically anger the other person or make him or her defensive. If you don’t like your partner’s new hairstyle, don’t say “I hate your hair” (fighting words for many image-conscious people) say “This new haircut is fun and funky, but your previous haircut really brought out the beauty in your facial features more.” This way you are not just nagging, yet you are expressing your preference.

Destructive Communication Method #3: Hurting in the Heat of the Moment
If you do begin to argue it is vitally important that you choose your words carefully. Once something has been said, it can never be erased from memory. Because of this, try your best not to get overheated during an argument; you might say something you truly regret.

It doesn’t help anyone in an argument when someone starts name-calling. Don’t let yourself get so angry that you start calling your partner hurtful names like “stupid” or “ugly”. Never use the term “hate”. You don’t really hate anything about your partner; if you did you would not be in a relationship with them. Hate can be one of the most destructive words used in an argument and insults can hurt the one you love even when you don’t really mean them.

When you feel yourself getting really angry, it is perfectly ok to pause, take a breath, and think about what you really want to say rather than what your defenses want you to say. If you and your partner find yourselves blowing your arguments out of proportion often, take some time during one of your good conversations to figure out ways to solve your argument problems. Perhaps you need to agree that if either of you say “time out” in the middle of your argument, you both have to go into separate rooms for a couple of minutes to reevaluate your argument and calm down.

Once destructive communication methods are recognized it is easier to understand your own feelings. Avoiding destructive ways of arguing (or not arguing for that matter) and promoting healthy ways to work through disagreements can greatly improve your relationship satisfaction and, in turn, help you build a more solid foundation in your relationship.

 
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