Have you ever had an argument with a loved one? Maybe it was with your spouse, your parent, your sibling or a friend? Disagreements happen. You are not always going to agree with your partner and some of the other important people in your life. How the disagreement is dealt with can determine whether your relationship will grow weaker or stronger. Having a healthy argument can have a positive result.

Some people believe that happy couples do not argue. That is not entirely true. Happy couples do argue but they argue in a healthy way and their relationship can get stronger because of it. Sometimes, in a relationship, if there are no arguments it is a sign that there is a lack of communication and possibly a lack of commitment. The absence of arguing is not what makes a happy relationship; it is how you argue with your spouse. Keep in mind that each person in a couple is also an individual with their own opinions, perceptions, feelings and thoughts. So it makes sense that you are not always going to agree on everything with your spouse.

Can couples argue in a healthy way? Yes! It is important to know that you can have a conversation where both you and your spouse can feel safe enough to express your feelings. Being honest about what you are thinking, in a respectful way, can result in you being heard. Being heard is extremely valuable!

Tips to Handling Conflicts in a Positive Way

  • Timing is important. Make sure it a time that both you and your spouse can concentrate on the concern. Be cautious of picking a time when your spouse needs to leave to go somewhere, is very tired or any other time that could hinder the conversation.
  • It is important to remember that timing can make a difference but also try to discuss things within a reasonable amount of time.  Waiting an extended period of time can be frustrating and then you might explode in anger.
  • Focus on one topic at a time. Bringing up several issues can get overwhelming and leave the other person feeling like they can’t do anything right.
  • If you resolved a past issue, leave it in the past. Staying in the present and trying to discuss the concern can help the present and the future.
  • Any hot topic should have a gentle beginning. Start with your feelings about your concern and how it affects you. Do not verbally attack your spouse. Remember you are having a conversation with the person you have chosen to live with for the rest of your life.
  • Express your needs without blaming as that only puts your spouse on the defensive. Focus on how the behavior is a problem. It is crucial to not attack your spouse as a person and to just stick to the issue.
  • The use of “I statements” instead of using “you statements” will help to avoid placing blame. If your spouse does not feel like they need to defend themselves, it would be easier for him/her to listen to your need.
  • Your spouse is entitled to feel the way they do. Do not try to invalid their feelings. Instead try showing them empathy by listening and seeing their perspective. Validating your spouse’s feelings does not mean you have to admit to a wrong doing. It just means you can see why they feel the way they do.
  • If you are unsure about something that your spouse is expressing, ask questions. Do not do it in a condescending tone, just in a clarification way.
  • Be respectful and don’t fight dirty. Name calling or belittling your spouse will never result in a positive outcome.

Happily married couples show each other respect, love and empathy at all times. Even in times of conflict. Use the list above as some suggestions to help get you started on a path to arguing in a healthy, productive manner.

As a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, I am committed to helping couples, families and individuals have better communication skills. When working with more than one person in the therapy room, I make sure that everyone has an opportunity to say what they are thinking. This gives all parties a chance to be heard. I will then utilize some innovative tips and techniques that can put your relationship on a healthy communication pattern. If you or someone you know would benefit from my services, contact me.

Your Relationship Expert,