All people in relationships argue. This is an accepted fact. If you’re not having even a minor dispute with your significant other at least once a week, you’re either in denial or some sort of Stepford robot. Teens and those new to relationships tend to think that an excess of argument is a sign that the relationship is doomed to failure. While in some cases this is true, often it’s just the opposite. Arguments happen when schisms in your relationship are voiced, and when handled appropriately, they can lead to a better quality of life for you and your partner.
Step One: Cool Down
No one will be productive in an argument when they’re angry, least of all two people in a relationship. Trying to work out problems while you’re still steaming will lead to hurt feelings and angry words exchanged, and often little else. To resolve an argument appropriately, the most important thing is to take a step back and calm down. Ask yourself: is this really worth being so worked up about? Often, the answer will be a sound ‘no’. Even if the answer is yes, being angry will only get you more angry, which isn’t beneficial to anyone. Once you’ve regained a level head, you can move on to…
Step Two: Identify the Problem
Simply apologizing without knowing why the argument started will only lead to the same argument repeated in the future. Sit down with your partner and identify what the issue is. Most importantly, be sure to identify the cause of the argument on BOTH sides of the table. If one person feels that his or her voice isn’t being heard, you won’t get anywhere.
Step Three: Work Out a Solution
Realize that you are two people who obviously care enough about one another to invest a portion of your lives in the other. If you care that much about your partner, you can certainly devote a small portion of your busy life to compromise with them. Try to work out a solution that is equitable for both sides of the argument. The entire point of compromise is to give and take. If you’re demanding change from your partner without agreeing to change for them, consider that you may be acting selfishly. At the same time, don’t allow your partner to steamroll your requests. The entire point is to work out a solution that leaves both people happy. Be the first to suggest a solution, instead of waiting for your partner. It shows proactivity, and the willingness to leave the argument behind you.
Step Four: Apologize
This is an absolutely critical step that couples often miss in the post-argument haze. Even if you were the party who was wronged in the situation, apologize for getting so worked up, and make it sincere. Chances are that you don’t enjoy arguing with your partner, and a small “I’m Sorry” goes a long way toward improving the mood for both parties. If you were the person who was in the wrong, be sure to apologize for causing the problem identified in step two. Specific apologies are always more convincing and sincere than a simple blanket “sorry.”
The key here is to remain level headed and to be fair to your partner. You’re in a relationship, so you obviously care about them. Use these steps to improve your love for one another, and remember that arguments aren’t problems so much as solutions waiting to happen.