By Leanne Shelton
Do you ever feel like the walls are closing in?
You’re feeling stressed with uncertainty – and so is your partner. You’re working and living in the same space. Or perhaps one (or both) of you is out of a job. To top it all off, the bills are piling up and there are children to home-school.
With all these factors in consideration, it’s completely normal to argue with your partner more than usual. The good news is – studies have shown arguing is actually healthy. It’s better than sweeping issues under the carpet and letting them fester.
But at the moment, constant arguments are just adding to the stress – and doing more harm than good. So how do you make them stop?
1. Give yourself time to calm down
If your partner says something hurtful, step away from the situation to calm down. Take some deep breaths or get some fresh air. Reflect on the situation. What do you think triggered you – and why?
Only return to your partner once you’ve calmed down. Then you can respond with more awareness and sensitivity to your partner – without feeding a potential argument.
2. Move away from the defensive state
Rather than focusing on defending, reacting, and counter-attacking your partner’s words, try to listen and understand what they’re saying.
According to Daniel J. Siegal, author of Mindsight: The New Science of Personal Transformation, “When our entire focus is on self-defense, no matter what we do, we can’t open ourselves enough to hear our partner’s words accurately. Our state of mind can turn even neutral comments into fighting words, distorting what we hear to fit what we fear.”
Try stepping into your partner’s shoes and imagine what they’re experiencing right now.
3. Communicate effectively
If emotions are high, find a time to talk when you’ve both calmed down. Also ensure you’re both focused on the conversation and not distracted by devices or the TV.
Start the discussion amicably and avoid critical comments. Use ‘I’ statements instead of ‘you’ statements. This means you’re taking responsibility for your emotions – and your partner is less likely to feel they’re being attacked. For example, instead of saying ‘You never listen’, say ‘I feel like I’m not being heard.’
If you’re still struggling to communicate without arguing, you may wish to seek assistance from a local relationship counsellor.
If you feel your safety is at risk during an argument, immediately call Lifeline on 13 11 14.
Leanne Shelton is a health and wellness copywriter and content coach at Write Time Marketing. (www.writetimemarketing.com.au)