As a therapist in New York, specializing in couples counseling, I have often encountered during my work with couples, the issue of how to argue effectively with our partner. Additionally, couples want to know how to get to the road of reconciliation faster and then ultimately make-up sex. There is no quick fix guide on how to argue, or how to shorten its duration. However, there are tips that can help foster open and honest communication which may lead to understanding, empathy and faster reconciliation.
#1 Use ‘I” instead of “You”
When communicating with our partner, it helps to use “I” instead of “You” so that are partner doesn’t react defensively. For example, when arguing about household chores, try “I want us to have clean dishes, which need to be loaded in the dishwasher, instead of, “You never load the dishes in the dishwasher what’s why we don’t have clean dishes.” The former sounds like a feeling attached to a logical behavior, the latter sounds like a blanket statement which puts the other person on the defensive. The language we use to communicate with our partner reflect how we feel about them and ourselves. Respect yourself and your partner by speaking to them with kindness and respect.
#2 Express your emotions
Many times couples have difficulty articulating just how they truly feel. Try to think of how you are feeling in the moment and what emotions are coming up for you. For instance, using the above example about dishes, if you are feeling angry and disappointed that your partner failed to do the dishes, express that verbally to your partner. “I feel angry and disappointed when you don’t do the dishes and unloved or cared for.” Instead of, “You make me angry and disappointed like you don’t even care.” By expressing how you feel, your partner will begin to understand better emotionally. This will lead to deeper emotional bonds over time
#3 Ask open-ended questions
Honest communication is what helps couples to reach an understanding and compromise. It’s important to ask open-ended questions to effectively continue open dialogue. An open-ended question is a question that cannot be answered by simply saying, “yes” or “no”, which is a “closed-question.” For example. “How come the dishes are not done?” Instead of, “Did you not care enough to do the dishes?” The open-ended question allows our partner to express a thoughtful response; whereas, the closed- ended questions are merely devised to elicit a “yes” or no” answer, good for defense lawyers during cross-examination, not so good for loving partners in relationships. We want our partners to communicate to us more, so why not ask questions that encourage the practice!
#4 Make open-ended statements
Along with open-ended questions, open-ended statements can be used to help advance the conversation. “I want to hear about what happened with the dishes.” Instead of, “I want to hear about how much you didn’t care enough to do the dishes. The former statement encourages dialogue while the latter, is a closed statement that won’t help further the communication.
#5 Empathize with your partner.
As difficult as it may be to think about putting yourself in your partners’ shoes, during a heated argument, you might gain a better understanding of where they are truly coming from and grow closer as a result. Rather than just merely saying, you understand where they are coming from; you can begin to feel it. Through empathizing with your partner, you will continue to bond and grow and be able to compromise more effectively. By establishing this emotional understanding and closeness, we allow partners to be emotionally vulnerable in an honest and safe environment which strengthens emotional security between you and your partner.
Want to find out more? See a couples therapist in New York.