The last time that you got into a heated argument with someone close to your heart, how did you feel? What kind of emotions were running through your system? How did you conduct yourself in this high-pressure social situation? What kind of language did you use? What was the tone and volume of your voice like when you were articulating all your opinions? Did you resort to name-calling?
Did you ever criticize your partner? Did you roll your eyes at them? Did you give them some kind of silent treatment? Did you act defensively whenever they started to talk about you? Did you make an effort to actively listen to what your partner was trying to tell you? Did you take their thoughts and opinions seriously or were you just treating the entire thing as some kind of joke?
Okay. Those were a lot of questions. And you might be feeling overwhelmed. But here’s the thing. Relationships can be overwhelming – especially when there are arguments and disagreements that are involved. It can be very stressful to get into debacles and fights with someone you love. You want to say your piece but you also don’t want to be saying something you will only end up regretting with your partner. And that’s why you have to be taking a lot of these questions into consideration. You always want to be staying mindful of how you are conducting yourself in these arguments and fights.
Naturally, everyone fights. That’s not something that anyone is going to change. Conflict is inevitable. And we are never really able to control the amount of conflict in our lives. However, what we can control is how we conduct ourselves in the face of all this conflict. And also, you have to know that the way that you and your partner deal with conflict in a relationship says a lot about the strength of your love. All couples argue and fight.
That’s not a surprise at all. However, the strongest and healthiest couples are always the ones who are able to argue with one another in a respectful and constructive manner. John Gottman, a researcher, an expert in the field of relationship conflict has observed the manner in which couples argue for quite some time now. And he has found out some big no-no’s when it comes to proper conduct during arguments.
If you are genuinely interested in making your relationship last, then it would be best for you to heed John’s advice. Gottman actually coined these no-no’s like the “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” and it seems like his coinage is apt. If you want to make sure that your relationship doesn’t fall into oblivion, then you have to make sure that you avoid doing any of the things that are listed here.
1. You criticize your partner.
Don’t criticize your partner for the sake of hurting them. That is never good in any relationship. You always have to make sure that your partner doesn’t feel attacked in any capacity. Any criticism you give should be done out of love or concern – not out of spite.
2. You act defensively when you are confronted with something.
Don’t act defensively whenever the facts are laid out in front of you. You have to be willing to stay humble and hear your partner out. If they are being unreasonable, then just wait for them to finish and then very calmly tell them your perspective on things.
3. You hold contempt over your partner.
You should never be holding any contempt for your partner in the relationship. Once you argue, keep your feelings within that argument. Don’t be harboring any ill feelings for your partner or else you’re only going to end up resenting one another. And that’s never a good thing for a relationship.
4. You stonewall your partner.
You might think that you are doing your relationship a favor by just not saying anything during a fight or an argument. But you are wrong. That’s not going to fix your relationship at all. In fact, if you do that, you are taking a passive approach to address the problems in your relationship. You are making your partner feel like you’re uninvested.
Even though these seem like 4 distinct reminders in how you should conduct yourself in the relationship, they go together a lot of the time. When you criticize your partner, it can lead them to become defensive. And when there is defensiveness, it can incite a sense of contempt within the relationship. If left unmanaged or unaddressed, all of your arguments might eventually lead to total stonewalling in the relationship.
Keep in mind that a relationship is always going to be much stronger when couples are able to joke and laugh a lot. It’s always nice when you are able to share some light-hearted moments together as a couple. That kind of positive energy is actually going to carry over into your fights and arguments as well.