Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Suggestions on handling arguments

The holidays are upon us, which could mean hours spent in a cramped car with an imaginary line drawn between brother and sister in the back seat, back-stabbing feuds between in-laws or heated discussions about how you will pay off your credit card bills before Thanksgiving 2007 rolls around.

Face it; arguments are going to happen during this time of family togetherness and high stress. So what’s the best way for couples to argue without hurting feelings or causing permanent damage to relationships?

Lisa Terrell, a certified sex therapist, marital counselor and owner of Lydia's Loom Counseling in Charlotte, has some suggestions on how a couple should tackle an argument.

Her thoughts: “It’s OK to take a break from a subject, but the rule is that if you take the break, then ‘Tag! You’re it’ for bringing it back up again. Issues that are ignored don’t just go away, because they will be back. A long-term study by couples and marriage researcher, John Gottman, showed that ‘stonewalling’ (pretending that you didn’t hear, ignoring a topic, and not answering questions) was the number one indicator that a relationship would eventually fail. This makes sense. Conflicts can easily turn unspoken, but usually don’t resolve unless they are discussed and worked through. By the way, most conflicts can be solved by agreeing to have a win-win solution. If you keep at a problem until both parties win, you will have resolved the issue. There is no win-lose in an intimate relationship. If your partner loses, so do you.”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well, my wife and I have already had our holiday argument, and it wasn't pretty. We're not like most couples, who argue over money or household chores. We typically argue over company. She enjoys having people over, and I don't. It's not that I don't like people; but because my work centers on meeting the demands people make of me, the last thing I want is meeting more demands when I come home.

I really feel like I got backdoored this Thanksgiving. What I suspected would be a fairly quiet holiday with my wife amd my mother-in-law (who I absolutely adore) will eventually be a huge family gathering. My wife is happy with that; she loves getting together with her people, and I don't begrudge her that. But my family didn't--and still doesn't--do that on Thanksgiving. We didn't go visiting anyone else, nor did we host other people.

It's really turned into a barnburner, and as usual, I'll have to be the bigger person and apologize for offending her. What bothers me more than anything else is that I'm being made out to be the bad guy in all this, and I'm not. She knows how I feel about having people over; our house isn't that large, and I feel crushed when a bunch of folks are in it. We just had a dinner party last weekend that got bigger than I figured, too.

I'm staging an evacuation to my parents' home tomorrow. If my wife wants to have family in, that's fine. I don't want to be around them and I'm not going to be around them. At home, there's just four other people to deal with, and I grew up with them.