Disagreements are bound to happen. Whether they be with a parent, co-worker, or friend, an argument is sure to sour any mood, especially one with a spouse. Disagreements can let others know where you stand on certain issues, and they are perfectly healthy to have.
However, the problem arises when you and your partner lack the skills to communicate effectively to work through the many arguments that you are certain to have. In fact, negative communication is significantly associated with divorce in married couples. Below are just a few tips on how you and your partner can work through a disagreement and hopefully reach a mutually beneficial resolution.
One of the ways you and your partner can foster effective communication is to go into a conversation with a clear head. Never go in thinking the worst of your partner or with a negative attitude. When you are still dwelling on that initial anger or disappointment that you might have had, there is no point in having the conversation at all. It will be like arguing with a brick wall, and there is little to no chance that any effective communication will happen. Thinking with a clear and rational head is key to having any hope of having a beneficial conversation.
Conversation is not a one person endeavor. It takes two people to have a conversation, with both doing equal parts of the talking and the listening. If one person is doing all of the talking, then it is not a conversation. There is no back and forth, and both sides are not sharing their opinions and thoughts on the matter. It is easy to want to take over the conversation, especially when we hear things that we might not want to hear. It is important to remember to be an active listener when communicating with your partner or anyone else with whom you may disagree.
One of the oldest tips in the book when it comes to effective communication between two people is the power of “I” statements. It may be one of the most commonly heard of communication tips, but in the heat of the moment, it can be easily forgotten, and we tend to jump straight to accusatory “you” statements. As much as we may think that we want to be strong to get our point across, it is important to talk in a calm voice and not get your partner worked up by placing blame on them when more often than not, the blame can be shared. Even if you are 100% correct in your position, speaking to someone with force and aggression is just going to make them want to shut down, and then you are back to square one.
Once you have calmly and rationally talked through whatever may be troubling you and your partner, it is time to collaborate and think of solutions. By collaborating, it allows you to reach a solution together that will benefit both of you. Just like with active listening, if only one person is coming up with a solution, then you might as well not have the conversation. Be positive with your collaboration. Use “Yes, and” statements rather than “No, but” statements to reach a compromise. You may not get everything you want, but a partnership is about give and take. Don’t go into a conversation thinking that you are going to be the only one to benefit and that in the end it is your way or the highway. By going into a conversation ready to collaborate and not put down the other person, you and your partner will experience more effective communication and a better outcome.
When Effective Communication Tips Are Not Enough
Sometimes, there are conversations that you and your partner may not feel comfortable having by yourselves. If you are looking for someone to help you and your partner work through a more serious matter, give us a call. One of our experienced couple’s counselors would be happy to meet with you and your partner, facilitate a conversation, and help you overcome a tough obstacle in your relationship.