THE METRO JULY 2019
The Metro asked what my views on couple’s arguing styles and the best ways for couples to argue. Here are my answers.
1. What are the main arguing styles someone can fall into?
Before distinguishing one arguing style to another it’s helpful to normalise “arguing”. Couples argue and it’s healthy to communicate one's point of view. The problem isn’t that couples argue, it’s the way they argue. Learning to argue more consciously and with more awareness helps couples work through every day issues and then more challenging issues between them.
Reactive Arguing: When couples reactive to one another they have been triggered and usually feel hurt and vulnerable. This is when they feel the need to protect themselves and react by
withdrawing, stonewall, gaslight and often saying hurtful and damaging things to one another.
Reflective Arguing: This is when couples are conscious of their own feeling and are able to slow down and pause before responding. This is when couples are able to listen, acknowledge, see the others point of view, compromise and let their partner know that the argument isn’t endangering the relationship.
2. Is one arguing style the healthiest, or better than another?
Reflective Arguing is more productive and loving for any relationship. Of course, this is a difficult thing to do and takes practice (yes, practice) and refinement throughout the relationship.
3. How can you identify which arguing style you are?
Identifying the style (either reactive or reflective arguing) isn’t essential but what is important is that each person is attuned to their own feelings and work to identify them so they don’t default into reactive arguing. It’s obvious when an arguing style is not working for a couple because the conflicts are still there (but sometimes buried for a time until they come up again).
4. Why is identifying your arguing style important within a relationship?
I’m not sure it’s as important to identify your arguing style as much as it is to know yourself well. Therapy is one way of doing this but by no means the only way. The key is to learn to become connected to yourself so you can develop the muscle to slow down and reflect before reacting, pursuing or withdrawing from your partner.
It also means knowing when you might be wrong or stepping over the line when acting badly and apologising to your partner. Learning to think that your way of thinking or point of view is not ‘the only way’ is key.
5. How can you make sure your arguments are healthy in a relationship?
Start with the trust that arguing is not a threat but helps your relationship grow.
Timing is everything. Don’t start arguing until you feel calm and understand what the issue is and how you feel about it. Communicate to your partner and let them know you need time to think about it, reassure them you will sort it out together.
Remember you are both vulnerable.
Don’t have expectations when coming into an argument. There are no should or shouldn’t. Be flexible in your thinking and don’t assume you’re right. Listen. Slow down and Reflect.
Stay on point. Talk about the issue and don’t get personal.
Be respectful to your partner. The golden rule to treat others as you would like to be treated has never been more true when arguing!