What are the four things doomed couples do when they argue?
More importantly, what is it that you and your partner do? Fortunately, we can take responsibility for our own “horseman” behavior. Do you tend to be defensive when you fight? Or critical? Whatever the case may be, identify your primary tendency and commit to memory the antidote. Remember:
- Combat your own defensiveness by accepting responsibility.
- Combat criticism by taking the global character assassination out of a complaint. (Take out “You always…” or “You never…” or “You’re so…” and instead stay specific to the situation at hand.)
- Take a break if you are starting to stonewall.
- If you are feeling contemptuous, find something that you appreciate about your partner.
Second, decide which of the three aspects of conflict resolution you most need to work on. Do you need to:
- Practice expressing appreciation or using “I statements”?
- Make a plan to stay calm during an argument?
- Practice accepting the influence of your partner?
The supreme happiness of life is the conviction of being loved for yourself, or, more correctly, being loved in spite of yourself.”–Victor Hugo
Three tips for starting an argument that won’t damage your relationship.
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