How to argue peacefully with your partner

Whether you’re divorcing or facing conflict, listening will always take an important role in moving forward to a more calm and understanding future together. Humans are creatures of emotion and selfish intent. Everyone feels for themselves first and thinks for others second. It takes great practice to remember this in a highly emotional moment like an argument. Here are four steps to help you become more aware of what the other person is really saying and how to move forward.

This isn’t an attack – it’s an expression of an emotion.

Step one is to realize that the two of you are engaging in a state of emotions clashing. You probably don’t mean to attack your partner. They probably aren’t trying to hurt you, either. So why does it feel like that? Our minds run on emotion, it’s how we – as a person, not just a collection of cells – experience the world. You are happy for a surprise party, you’re sad at the passing of a loved one. The same is true of our relationships. It feels like your partner is only out to frustrate you because they aren’t listening, aren’t doing that simple thing you ask, or whatever the situation may be.
Your partner is feeling the exact same way. They might be saying how they always do the dishes, so shouldn’t you every once in a while? But what is at the core of that message? What is your partner really trying to communicate at the source of their frustration. More than likely, it feels as if a wrong has been committed, that you don’t care about them as much as they would hope, or some other insecurity. This isn’t an attack on you or your person. This is an expression of a deep-rooted problem that needs to be solved. Read between the lines to find the source of the issue, first.

Acknowledge emotions for what they are.

Justified or not, emotions will always happen. It is up to you and your partner to recognize emotions as simply that. A way of experiencing the world and a signal for some deeper problem that needs to be solved.

Let’s say you feel upset because of something your partner has done, big or small. You and your partner have a big explosive fight. You feel wronged, but they insist that they didn’t mean to cause you any harm. Where do you go from here?

Both parties have to acknowledge that emotions are happening for a reason. However, emotions also can happen due to outside forces likes stress on the job and medical issues. These emotions are simply signals for what is happening in our lives. You or your partner may not have meant to cause harm or sadness or anger, but it was caused. These emotions happened for a reason.

Discuss what lead to these emotions.

Now that you have recognized emotions for what they are, you can move on to finding the root of the problem. Maybe it was as simple as acknowledging that you were stressed and needed to release some anger. Maybe there is a deep rooted issue of partners clashing. Whatever the case, a frank and honest discussion is necessary. Reframe the argument.

Don’t think of an argument as a shouting match. Think of it as a discussion to find why the two of you are experiencing this moment. What lead to it? What are your emotions signaling? How can you better prevent it in the future? Approach the situation as if you were an outside referee and examine each emotion and cause as if you were making a judgement.

Find ways to correct and move forward.

Some problems are simple, like discovering you felt unappreciated due to some chores being missed. Other problems might take a great deal more effort and self-discovery to change and correct. Ultimately, it is up to the two of you to find ways to take your situation from bad to good. You both have the power to acknowledge each other’s emotional state, discuss how this state came to be, and commit to preventing or being aware of this event in the future. Big or small, all conflict can be discussed calmly and rationally. So long as everyone involved remembers we are only humans who experience the world in emotions.