It’s the holidays, let the bickering commence!

This week we are sharing a great blog post, perfect for this time of year, from our friends at Dainty Mom

Tips to Help Couples Blend Styles Without Bickering

The truth is, couples fight—it’s going to happen. It’s how you handle the arguments—about where to live, how to parent, wedding venues, Amazon wedding registry & more—that determines how strong of a relationship you have.

If you come from a me, me, me perspective, you may find you and your significant other recycling the same fight over and over again, with no solution in sight. To help you fight healthy and make sure you aren’t left bickering over the trivial, check out these 9 tips.

1. Have an Endgame in Sight

Don’t fight to fight. In other words, as reported by Refinery29, have an endgame. What do you want to get accomplished? What does your partner want? How can you both meet each other’s needs and wants while not giving up your own? Is there a compromise you both can live with? Figure out what you want from this argument and voice it.

2. You Are Still a Team

Arguing or no arguing, you and your partner are a team. That means arguing is not about finding a solution for one or the other but finding a solution for the relationship—to make it stronger. Come to the argument from a place of wanting to strengthen the relationship, not attacking your partner for not picking up her socks.

It's the holidays, let the bickering commence

Photo by Naomi August on Unsplash

3. Don’t Stoop to Toxic Behaviors

Toxic behaviors include but are not limited to belittling, name-calling, insulting, devaluing, put-downs…any behavior that is intended to cause hurt. Using these behaviors can be a sign of emotional immaturity and insecurity.

If you do find yourself going to these behaviors, reflect why. Perhaps you grew up in a household where put-downs and belittling were normal? Or maybe your partner said something that triggered an insecurity? Identify and come up with a healthier alternative—such as voicing your feelings, telling your partner you need space to regroup, etc.

At the same time, do not tolerate toxic behavior from your partner. If you start to feel bad from something your partner said, call him or her out on it. If you need to, excuse yourself from the room while your partner gets ahold of his or her emotions.

4. Listen, Listen, Listen

The reality is, there will be times when you accidentally cross your partner’s boundaries or do something you aren’t proud of. Instead of burying your head deep in the sand, sit and listen to your partner—even if that means hearing some not-so-appealing things about your behavior.

By listening and not being defensive you communicate that you respect partner and want to learn how to stop this behavior so your partner isn’t repeatedly hurt.

5. Are Your Arguments Spiraling? Take a Timeout

Are you finding that you and your partner argue for hours on end? Nothing seems to get solved? And you are left going to bed angry, confused, and unheard?

It is likely that your partner and you are engaged in reactive behaviors, and the argument spiraled. To reset and get centered, take a timeout. The timeout could be as short or as long as you want, just so both of you come back with clear heads.

It's the holidays, let the bickering commence

Photo by Pablo Heimplatz on Unsplash

6. Problem Solving Together

When you argue, you and your partner aren’t trying to prove who’s right and who’s wrong. See the argument as a problem you both are working together to find a solution for.

By looking at the argument from that angle, you won’t nearly feel the urge to point fingers. Again, this goes back to being a team.

7. Bringing Up the Past

Bringing up the past in arguments shows that wounds aren’t healed and makes it harder to trust. It is unfair to bring up past wrongs your partner has committed, especially when you have forgiven him or her.

The behavior shows, in fact, that you haven’t forgiven—and that perhaps you have clung to resentment and have formed a grudge. This also makes it harder for your partner to trust you when you do forgive him or her because, as actions show, you may bring the wrong up again in the future.

When you do say “I forgive you,” ask yourself if that is what you mean. Perhaps you are conflict-avoidant and don’t want to face the fact that you are not over the hurt your partner caused. If you realize you haven’t forgiven, speak the truth. Perhaps there needs to be more discussion about this issue?

8. Identify Attachment Styles

What attachment style do you have? What attachment style does your partner have? In general, there are four attachment styles: secure, anxious, avoidant, and anxious-avoidant.

Secure attachment styles are comfortable with intimacy and autonomy. Anxious styles are comfortable with more intimacy and less autonomy. Avoidant styles seek less intimacy, more autonomy. And, anxious-avoidant styles will fluctuate between secure, anxious, avoidant styles.

So, what do these styles have to do with arguing? In arguments, an avoidant partner could shut down or be overly critical. Anxious partners may be highly emotional. While secures won’t be triggered (as much), which means genuine communication may be easier.

Remember, there are no best or worst attachment styles. Simply knowing your partner’s style can help you understand where he or she is coming from, and may help you empathize with him or her instead of taking his or her actions personally.

9. Use Myers Briggs

Myers Briggs groups people into 16 different personalities. Each personality type consists of four letters: introversion versus extroversion, intuition versus sensing, thinking versus feeling, and perceiving versus judging.

By you and your partner taking the test, you can learn about some of the similarities and differences in how you both see the world, which will help when arguments come up. (Know though that while the Myers Briggs Personality Test can be a tool, it is just that: a tool. Everyone is unique; no one fits in four-letter boxes.)

It's the holidays, let the bickering commence

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Final Thoughts

Arguing is a healthy and natural part of being in a relationship. However, being triggered and resorting to unhealthy (if not toxic) behaviors can spell out disaster for your relationship and can make partners feel distant instead of close.

By coming at arguments with an “us” mentality, you increase intimacy and teamwork. What other ways can you make arguments beneficial and stop the bickering cycle?

Thanks Ashley!  What a great collaboration and great post!

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