How to Argue Effectively

Fighting is a part of almost every relationship. Even couples with the healthiest of relationships argue from time to time, whether it be about something simple and silly, or something more concrete and serious. For the most part, those in relationships get through fights eventually, and move on. But, if you’ve ever felt as though the arguments you have with your partner are unproductive, and they continue to linger in the air for days on end, you may not be arguing effectively.

Yes, there are several ways to ‘fight a good fight,’ and turn your disagreements into something that can actually be beneficial for your relationship. Let’s take a look at a few simple tactics you can use during an argument to get through it successfully.

Don’t Run Away From It

Far too often, arguments get swept under the rug. Or, maybe you brought up a subject once that was important to you, but it triggered a disagreement, so you have decided to avoid it ever since. Ignoring potential arguments is bound to build up frustration in one, or both of you. Ask the big questions, share your genuine opinions and feelings, and talk it out before it becomes an even bigger issue. The longer you sit on something that’s bothering you, the larger it can become.

Take it Slow

Heated arguments rarely end well. In fact, they make it easy to say things we might later regret. To really argue effectively, you both need to agree to take things slowly, and start the conversation in a calm, collected tone. Think of it as an understanding, open conversation, instead of a disagreement.

If you’re able to take things slowly, and respect each other’s turn to speak, the disagreement is likely to have a better outcome for both people involved. Plus, feelings are less likely to get hurt.

Make Rules Beforehand

If each person goes into an argument not knowing what to expect, there are no boundaries. That’s when things can easily get out of hand. Set ground rules for your disagreements during a more neutral time. Rules could be anything from trying to come to a ‘big picture’ solution, to agreeing not to name call or dig up certain subjects from the past. They will be different for every couple, so suit them to fit your needs together.

Don’t Forget You’re On the Same Side

It’s so easy to consider your partner an enemy during an intense argument. Unfortunately, that usually doesn’t end well. Instead, go into a fight mentally acknowledging the fact that you’re on the same team. Ultimately, you both want what’s best for your relationship, you may just have a different approach to getting there.

Arguments typically happen because one person is struggling with some aspect of the relationship. As partners, you should do what you can to come to a solution regarding that struggle. You may have different ideas as to how to do it, but using these tools and techniques, your disagreements don’t have to feel so hostile. Instead, they can be productive and thought-provoking. You can actually accomplish your goals as a couple.

By remembering that you’re in this relationship for the long haul, it’s easier to look at your partner and want to figure out a solution, rather than lash out at them. Don’t forget the commitments you’ve made to them, and yourself, and your arguments can be far more effective.

Written by Kin Leung, MFT, providing couples therapy Burlingame