Quarrels are inevitable. Just ask mom and dad. But seriously, why do couples quarrel? There are myriad triggers to quarrels – money, children, in-laws… the list goes on. But is this what it’s really all about?
Interestingly, recent research by Baylor University has concluded that quarrels are essentially power struggles. And what you really want when you start a quarrel, is for the other person to surrender his or her power so you feel you are in control. Not because you want them to apologize.
With that in mind, there are fundamentally two reasons why couples enter into quarrels: “perceived threat” and “perceived neglect”. We feel vulnerable when we think our position is being compromised by a critical and overly demanding partner – perceived threat. Conversely, we feel spurned when we see our partners as being distracted or indifferent to us – perceived neglect.
So we battle to repossess “lost ground” and to regain control. But do we have to?
Here are some suggestions to diffuse potentially hurtful arguments:-
Let Peace be your Priority
Forget about being right. It’s not important, at all! But maintaining and strengthening your relationship is, so focus on that. And peace will rule and reign in your little kingdom you call home.
A gentle response diffuses anger
In any relationship, attitude is everything. And as a general rule of thumb – pride pushes people away; humility draws them to you, so you have the power to decide which way to go. Besides, a gentle response doesn’t only mean watching your tone but it also means you affirm your spouse. Say positive things about him and his accomplishments. You’ll be surprised at how easily you can draw him close to you by articulating just how much you appreciate him.
Stop judging your spouse
The danger with doing that is you unwittingly assume a holier-than-thou sort of attitude that doesn’t help you find middle ground. To be fair, we are all geniuses on hindsight. Think you’ll fare better? Think again. Chances are you’ll end up doing the same exact thing if you’re faced with comparable conditions and circumstances. So stop pointing fingers and jump right into your partner’s shoes instead. Empathy, by the way, is a very attractive quality.
Listen to the whole story
Hold your horses. Restrain yourself from jumping to conclusions and wait till the end of the story. If you recall, in most of the best movies, the twist is usually at the end. In any case, the fact that we have two ears and one mouth is reminder enough that we ought to be listening twice as much as we speak.
Right this instant, seriously. It drives anyone nuts. Why get yourself all riled up over something that is never ever going to happen? Focus on the here and now, always on what you have, never on what you don’t.
Marriage is not a game so don’t keep scores
Start each day on a level playing field. Dump bad memories into the sea of forgetfulness. Or if you prefer the love tank analogy, empty it so it can be filled again. Wipe the slate clean at the end of every day, preferably before sundown (that’s your visual cue), and start afresh. And if ever you’re tempted to go “Strike One”, just remember nobody’s perfect, nope, not even you.
Just as the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, these suggestions put together will help dissipate the stormiest arguments even before they begin. But even if you take them on one at a time, you’re already one step closer to greater peace, love and happiness in your marriage.