Arguments are unavoidable in a relationship. Inevitably, you and your partner will face situations in which your viewpoints differ and you have to find common ground. In these moments, it’s important that you communicate respectfully and with the end goal in mind.
Here are some tips.
First, keep an open mind. Stop and ask yourself if your goal is to be right or to resolve the conflict. If your goal is to resolve the conflict, than it will be important to not only hear your partner but really consider what they have to say.
If necessary, establish boundaries. Never swear at your partner, call them names, or make fun of them. If they swear at you, call you names, or make fun of you, let them know that in order to continue the discussion, it’s important that their communication is respectful. If it happens again, let them know that you won’t continue the discussion until they’re ready to communicate respectfully and walk away.
Then, work to identify the root cause. Most arguments arise over seemingly little things and the root cause is never identified. Rather than focusing on the details that led to the argument, shift the focus to what your partner might be feeling in order to better understand the root cause. Ask yourself, "What is my partner really upset about? What am I really upset about?" For example, an argument about housework is almost always about feeling unappreciated or undervalued and almost never about housework.
When sharing your perspective, make "I" statements. For example, instead of saying, "You left your clothes on the floor next to the hamper again," say, "I feel like don’t care about me when you leave your clothes on the floor."
Look for opportunities to compromise. Instead of hashing it out until somebody wins, look for solutions where each party gives a little and gets a little. Compromises can prevent resentment later on and help you build a skill set for resolving more difficult conflicts as they arise.
Next, agree to disagree. When you find yourselves in the middle of an argument that you can’t resolve, it’s okay to let it go. If the issue was inconsequential, like who was remembering a conversation accurately, move forward. If the issue is big, like whether to have children or not, you may need to evaluate your compatibility. While ending a relationship is hard, continuing a relationship when you don’t agree on foundational issues is even more painful.
Most importantly, remember that conflict is an opportunity to grow in your relationship and to hash out difficult issues as a couple. Instead of shutting down when arguments arise, use the opportunity to listen, share, and strengthen your relationship.