Look beneath the argument. There’s a saying: “You’re never fighting for the reason you think.” It may look like you’re fighting about money, sex, or something else, but there’s usually some feeling underneath that hasn’t been fully expressed, maybe even something you hadn’t realised you were feeling.
- Inadequacy. You feel like you’re not good enough and you can’t quite believe that your partner would want someone like you – at least, not for long.
- Fear of abandonment. You’re worried that your partner will leave you – literally, perhaps by cheating on you or by becoming emotionally distant. A little bit of alone time after a fight is good, though. It lets each partner cool down so that hot-tempered things aren’t said.
- Feeling taken for granted. You feel unappreciated, perhaps used.
Communicate what’s most true for you in one sentence. Telling your partner something like “I feel scared when I see you talking to other girls,” or “I feel angry I don’t have the money to pay for this right now” allows you to get to the core issue and often helps him or her to understand your feelings without arguing about it.
Take responsibility. Did you snap at your partner? Are you trying to control the outcome of the fight? Is it easier to get what you want by manipulating the situation rather than asking directly? We all do these things to one degree or another. If you can find a way to own up to your part in the argument, without trying to blame or wrong yourself or your partner for it, it may open up a whole new dialogue.
Be Humble. Sometimes if you can apologize for something you did (even if you didn’t “start” it), it can disarm your partner and result in him or her apologizing as well. Something like, “This is not where I wanted this to go, and I’m so sorry it has. Can we take a breather from the disagreement, collect ourselves and try again, only this time less angry?” Always remember: don’t apologize for things you didn’t do just so the fight will be over. Be sincere.
Let go of being right. Wanting to win an argument is the surest way to keep it going. It’s a no-win situation and keeps you from truly connecting with your partner. There’s an old saying: “Would you rather be right, or be happy?”
Let your partner learn in his or her own way. You can only control yourself and your own pace of learning. If your partner isn’t getting it, you can’t force him or her to see what the issue your way. There’s information in any argument for both of you, but it’s impossible to make someone see things from your point of view. Either they do, or do not.
- If you’re holding out for an apology, and your partner isn’t giving it, consider openly forgiving him or her anyway.