How are you when you get into an argument with your partner? Do you get angry quickly and end up regretting what you say, or do you shut down and retreat? It’s never too late to learn some new skills.
Think back to the last time you argued with your partner – it may have gotten heated and before you knew it, communication was out the window, insults were thrown and you stamped off to bed with your heart racing.
In couples counselling, we often talk about working collaboratively, like a team. This involves two people who are making an effort to understand each other. However, in the grip of strong emotion, productive conversation can be surprisingly difficult.
Timing and conflict styles
Typically, most couples have disagreements at the worst times, when either one or both parties is stressed. This could be dinner time, or after one or both of you have been working extra hard, or were up the night before with a sick child.
Conflict resolution styles come into play here, also. Some people are overly accommodating, often at the expense of their own needs. Others are classic avoiders, and will do anything to escape a tough conversation.
Family of origin
The way in which conflict was managed in our original family dynamic can also come into play. Perhaps you are afraid of anger being expressed, as it reminds you of a parent’s temper and tendency to shout and slam doors when they were annoyed. This unfortunately may impact even further if you were someone who witnessed domestic violence as a child.
At the other end of the scale, some people talk about living in a home where they never witnessed their parents arguing, so it has left them short of effective conflict resolution skills.
While you may not always agree, it is more about trying to understand where the other person is coming from, without it taking away from your own experience.
Learning these skills are beneficial for both you and your relationships, and there is the added positive of your kids learning through observation. They can also apply to conflict with other family members and work colleagues.
Don’t hesitate to get in touch if this rings a bell and is something you’d like to work on!