I can’t handle the arguing! Mostly, my husband and I get along pretty well, but we’ve been yelling at each other so much lately, especially after Katrina, that I’ve started avoiding interaction altogether–preferring to just get through the day without a fight. I can’t help but think that this is not the right thing to do…
–Cynthia T., Algiers
All couples argue, so it’s crucial to learn how to resolve the issues in a caring way so you can prevent hurt feelings and disenchantment. A few basic steps can ease your fear and open an environment conducive to resolution. Before either of you are angry about anything else, talk about your feelings in a quiet, calm place. Try not to address any current issues at this time, and do not bring up any from the past, either. Your goal is to create a process that you both feel comfortable with. Be sure to agree that yelling and other abuses, such as slamming doors or pounding tables, should be excluded. Decide now that when a fight begins brewing, the first step will be to calmly talk about how you each see the issue and what your resolution would be. Be sure to visualize this process as a discussion meant to provide a satisfactory outcome for both of you–don’t threaten your relationship during an argument and don’t allow a disagreement to pose a threat to your relationship. Many couples fall into these typical traps. Goldsmith’s book offers a good perspective on invalidation (which is where one person directly or indirectly discounts the feelings or actions of another), as well as on the differences between hurt and anger. Reflecting on these two topics might help you understand the nature of your arguments with your husband, and get you on the right track even faster. Goldsmith’s “Ten Tips for Surviving Big Arguments” can also give you more ideas when you’re creating your own process. Be assured that forgiving and being forgiven is revitalizing. The best news is that working through disagreements can lead you to a deeper and more fulfilling relationship.