Wouldn’t relationships be easier if there were just a list of rules to go by, and everyone knew the rules? When it comes to our closest relationships I’ve got GOOD NEWS! Below you’ll find a list of just those rules. Share these with your partner and challenge yourself to stick to them. Mastering these guidelines has helped many SoCo clients get their relationship on the right track:

Rules of Effective Arguing
When couples start to argue it is easy to forget that from the start both people have a common goal – to come to some resolution on an issue. While the goal is the same, the focus of the argument is the disagreement about how to come to that resolution. In order for the common goal to be reached, it is important that each person hears the other side of the argument. Here are some things you can do that will help ensure that your message will be heard. Making sure you hear your partner’s message is up to you.
  • Remember that you have a common goal.
  • To allow your partner to hear what you’re saying, use “I” statements, and practice active listening skills.
  • Avoid bringing up the past; discuss your current needs and the present situation.
  • Make suggestions for resolution, and be willing to be flexible to find a win-win arrangement.
  • Don’t make threats (to leave your partner, to get drunk, to cheat, to move out, etc.).
  • Cursing, voice raising and name-calling are out of the question!
  • Avoid absolutes, like “always” and “never,” or other inflammatory words, like “whatever.”
  • Postpone an argument if it comes up in the presence of friends, family, guests, children.
  • Carefully choose a mutually agreeable time and place to discuss sensitive issues.
  • Don’t bring in third parties, e.g. “your mom even agrees with me…” “my friends say…”.
  • Stick to one topic; it’s almost impossible to agree on a moving target.
  • Never, never discuss important issues while under the influence of drugs, including alcohol.
  • Never bring up potentially emotionally loaded topics or ask serious questions via text message.
  • If an argument gets heated, call a time-out to cool down and think clearly. Once you are calm again, finish the discussion.
  • Don’t insist on continuing to argue if your partner has called a time-out – allow yourselves some time, whether 5 minutes or 24 hours.
  • Before going to bed or being separated for an extended period, if you haven’t resolved an issue, at least agree to disagree for the time being.

Communication is one of the most important aspects of a healthy relationship. If either you or your partner is having trouble following one or more of the guidelines above, talk about it! If you feel you can’t talk to your partner, consider talking to a professional counselor. Our close human relationships are too rare and valuable to be left untended.  –Mary B. Mattis, LCSW, LCDC