Tips for having a healthy argument

Some arguing is a healthy part of any relationship, and when couples spend more time than usual with each other there’s potential for more conflict.

Conflict can arise from a number of things such as the toilet seat being left up one too many times, to more serious issues such as lying or being unfaithful.

So how do you have a healthy argument? Here are our top 10 tips:

1. Listen carefully

Really listen to what your partner is saying and give them your full attention. This shows you care about your partner and what they have to say. It can help to reflect back what they are saying before you respond. Don’t be distracted by other things such as devices, children or other tasks.

2. Take turns talking

It’s easy to interrupt or talk over each other during an argument so make sure your partner has a chance to talk about their point of view, what they are feeling and why. Make sure you are given that opportunity too. At a time you’re not fighting, agree that you value giving each other a fair hearing. If that doesn’t happen, remind your partner of this shared value. You can also agree to have a set time each to say how you feel about the issue.

3. Don’t let things fester

If something is bothering you, speak up now or arrange a time to talk about it. Your partner may have no idea that there is an issue, so the sooner you talk about it, the sooner it can be resolved. Agree a time you can both be present to each other without distractions such as alcohol.

4. Keep the communication lines open

Having regular time together without work or childcare distractions creates opportunities to connect. It also gives you time to talk about issues before they escalate. A good practice is to set aside 30 minutes each week to have a couples meeting. This can be a space to discuss what you appreciate about each other, to plan for fun times, to divvy up the household to-do list and to discuss challenges. 

5. Don’t bring up the past

It’s easy to bring up a past grievance during an argument but it doesn’t help anyone. Stick to the issue at hand. If you need to talk about a recurring problem, set aside time to do that.

6. Put yourself in your partner’s shoes

A little bit of empathy can go a long way. Try to understand your partner’s point of view.

7. Take some time out

If things get too heated, take some time out to allow yourself or your partner to cool down. Then come back together and try again. Don’t resort to name-calling or insults, that will only escalate the argument and do more damage.

8. Say sorry

If you’ve messed up, say sorry. An apology goes a long way. Likewise, accepting an apology and showing some forgiveness can help move things forward too. Remember, nobody is perfect!

9. Physical violence is NOT okay

Under no circumstances is it okay to threaten violence or be physically violent towards another person. Here is a list of support services and information for people affected by family violence. If you’re in immediate danger, call the police on 111.

10. Unresolvable issues

If you find you are arguing about the same issue frequently without finding any way forward, consider getting some relationship counselling. This can make sure you are both getting heard and teach you skills so you are less likely to get stuck in the future.

References

  1. 5 healthy arguing techniques all happy couples use in a fight Elite Daily
  2. This is the best way to fight with your partner, according to psychologists Time 
  3. All couples fight. Here's how successful couples do it differently Huff Post
  4. Experiencing violence Are You Ok, NZ
  5. The power of a weekly marriage meeting