5 Ways to Diffuse an Argument with your Spouse
If you’re like most people, you don’t like to be wrong. You have in your head how you want things to be and, when they don’t go your way, it’s hard to see others’ perspectives. This seems to be especially difficult when it comes to communicating with your spouse. Like most couples, we argue. We also work, together, however, on finding ways to avoid arguments. Here are 5 ways that we’ve found to diffuse an argument with your spouse.
Remember your relationship
When it comes time to listen to your spouse, go into the conversation remembering the relationship that you share. If the topic is a heavy one, or you know that you might feel defensive in some way, focus, not on the uncomfortable feelings, but instead on the connection that you share with the other person and how much you care for them. Remind yourself that they would never do anything to hurt you, just as you wouldn’t want to hurt them.
We work hard to remind one another each day of our connection. When going into one of those talks, we always start it with a quick kiss or “I love you.” It helps us to take a step back and remember what’s important before discussing the topic at hand.
There’s a reason why advice when you’re worked up is to “take a deep breath and count to 10.” It’s because it gives you a few seconds to collect yourself and think more clearly, giving you time to be sure that you’re being a good listener and giving all that you can of yourself to the conversation.
In our family, as we have challenging conversations, we often ask one another for time outs. It’s not that we want to walk away and not return to the conversation, but that we need just a moment to think (and breathe) before we speak.
Get past Yourself
As conversation heats up, it’s often difficult to remember that your spouse feels strongly about his/her opinions too. Rather than placing all of your energy on trying to make him/her feel the way that you do, try to see things from his/her perspective. If you take a moment to collect yourself (and breathe, as already mentioned) try to think about why your spouse feels as strongly as they do.
When you return to the conversation, after trying to put yourself in the other’s place, enter calmly and try to use the phrase “I understand why you feel…” This approach has worked for us and has helped us to place the focus on our feelings for each other rather than the prideful desire to be right.
Have a Signal or Inside Joke
When seas are calm and you aren’t in the midst of a heated conversation, setting up a signal to indicate that you don’t want to fight can be great for helping to diffuse more challenging times. Whether it’s using the “time out” sign, sincerely blowing the other a kiss or waving a white flag, a physical signal that you can show the other can help to indicate that you don’t want things to get out of hand and aren’t looking for an argument.
Similar to a physical signal, an inside joke can stop a fight in its tracks. When talk is getting heated, referring to something that you both take joy in, or recalling something that you experienced together can help bring humor to both of you. Once you get laughing, you may be better able to talk through things, rather than argue.
When we’re having more difficult conversations, we take turns with “remember when we…” stories. They vary from one experience to another, but if we change the topic, just for a moment, we’re able to collect our thoughts and have a better thought-out discussion.
Walk away (Nicely!)
If you feel that an argument is imminent and you’ve tried everything else to diffuse it, it may be time to walk away. Rather than stomping out of the room and slamming the door (only makes things worse) explain that you don’t want to say anything unkind and need some time to yourself. Then walk away and go to another room. Once you both have calmed down, you may be better able to talk.
We work to remember that part of having a strong marriage is giving one another space…especially when talk gets heated. By removing ourselves from the situation we’re able to make sure that we are being respectful of one another and our relationship.
Do you have other ideas on how to diffuse an argument with your spouse? Please share what works for you!