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How to argue effectively in your relationship

The goal of an argument is not to win, but rather to understand the other person’s perspective and reasoning.

By Jerrell JohnPublished 5 months ago Updated 5 months ago 6 min read
How to argue effectively in your relationship
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

So, it seems like you and your partner got into another argument. Something tells me the argument itself isn’t necessarily the problem at hand.

The problem is that you both aren’t seeing eye to eye, just like in the previous dozen fights, and you can feel a pattern forming, leaving you feeling frustrated and distraught.

Well, what if I told you that you’ve probably been arguing the wrong way, and the solution was as simple as improving your listening skills and developing empathy?

Most couples argue ineffectively without ever genuinely resolving the issue at hand. In this article, we’ll discuss why a lack of communication and empathy might be the missing pieces.

Unhealthy Forms of Arguing

Let’s not kid ourselves here; if you’re in a relationship long enough, arguments are bound to break out sooner or later.

You’ll be happy to hear that having arguments aren’t signs that you’re with the wrong person or your relationship is dying but potentially the opposite! A lot of people think arguments mean their love affair has come to an end.

However, this could just as quickly signal something different — like there’s some tension in paradise because let’s face it: nobody wants perfect happiness all the time.

Now, this doesn’t mean that all forms of arguing are suitable. Factors within a fight can tell you whether there are serious problems that you and your partner need to take care of rather than dismiss.

Most of the time, these problems take the form of needs that fail to be met, for example:

Intimacy: It might go without saying, but physical touch, kind gestures, and loving words are necessary for relationships. Lack thereof can be a quick and straightforward way into arguments.

Validation: According to PubMed Center, most couples believe it’s essential to their relationship to move on the same wavelength majority of the time. When your significant other completely fails to see your viewpoint on a matter, you’re likely to feel misunderstood. If they go further and dismiss your feelings entirely, you’re more likely to feel ignored or disrespected.

Autonomy: Although relationships strive when both partners are typically on the same wavelength, disregarding personal independence altogether isn’t a good idea either. We’re individuals at the end of the day with separate interests, goals, and values. We need to sense that we have some control over what we do.

By Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

The thought of just not fighting might’ve formed in your mind or at least in the past. Still, in reality, that’s probably a faster path to the end of a relationship than poor communication during an argument.

Some partners avoid discussing their issues or disagreements within their relationship because it provokes anxiety. It could result from not wanting to hurt their partner’s feelings or coming off as the bad guy. So, they let things slide, allowing resentment to form slowly.

The thing is, all relationships have conflict. It’s how we deal with it that matters. It’s easier in the short term to evade conflict, but in the long term, it’s another issue.

Effects of Long and Short-Term Arguments

Warlike arguments in a relationship, such as disagreements over whose turn it is to do the dishes and kids, and some of the needs we discussed previously, can take a toll on mental and physical health in both the long and short term.

In the short term, it starts with intense feelings of anger for many different reasons, but internally that can trigger rapid breathing in most cases. Your body’s typical response is to hit the panic button and send you into “fight or flight” mode.

You’re likely to build a burning resentment for consistently unmet needs in the long term. In the worst-case scenario, you don’t decide to leave; instead, act on those emotions and do something to your significant other you might regret later. The stress that comes with boiling anger targeted at your significant other isn’t desirable either.

We’ve been looking at the core negatives of arguing the wrong way for a while now. How about we look at the positives of good arguing? Remember those needs we discussed? Wouldn’t it be great if someone could tell you how to fix those problems as soon as they arise?

Well, that’s what arguments are for! It’s as simple as your partner conveying their needs or vice versa and then taking the necessary action to fix it.

The power of good communication!

Arguing also helps you and your partner evolve — individually and within your relationship. The level of trust built when arguing right allows you and your partner to go to each other in times of need.

How to Use Listening and Empathy During Arguments

By now, the idea of arguing should be exciting to you (hopefully) — the positive kind of arguing. If you want a stronger relationship with your partner, you’re going to have to keep these approaches in mind:

By Chewy on Unsplash

1. Go From 1 Vs. 1 To 2 Vs. 1

When arguing, many couples seem to forget the main objective or are too blind by negative emotions and the heat of the moment. You both are arguing because there’s a problem or issue that needs to be taken care of, and instead of yelling at each other to fix it (which is the easy path), you both should be working together to problem solve. I mean, you are partners, after all… act like ones!

2. Wait and Pay Attention

The #1 way to eliminate those back-and-forth screaming battles is to shut up and wait for the truth within your partner’s words to reach the surface (Because it will come out eventually). I don’t want this to be taken as “I’m going to sit there and not say anything the whole time.”

Yeah, no, that’s not what I’m getting at here. What I’m saying is to listen to your partner’s issue without judgment or even opinion to start off and if it’s not clear what the problem is, then summarize what they said and ask if that’s correct. If not, they’ll make it more transparent for you until you understand the issue.

3. Take A Few Deep Breaths

It’s easier to act on impulse when your partners are at ten, and you go up to 10 with them. Calm down. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth a couple of times if need be. If you’re on four or five while they’re on ten, it will be easier to empathize and see the truth behind their words to take steps closer to a solution.

The Bottom Line

Couples often get stuck in this scary loop where neither partner is meeting their needs, leading to more significant conflict, frustration, and, worst case, resentment. You can create a more harmonious and fulfilling relationship by being curious about your partner’s needs and being willing to share your own.


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About the Creator

Jerrell John

Writer/Editor - My specialties include Grammarly & Jasper AI expert services, which are both essential in the current digital age. I'm also an Upwork freelancer, ready to take on a range of projects from content writing to copy editing.

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Comments (11)

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  • ✨ Paari ✨2 months ago

    Great advice. Thanks for sharing, Jerrell.

  • arguing without needing to be right. loved the empathy point

  • Tracy Willis4 months ago

    Thanks Jerrell..super interesting and a great reminder in the importance of really, actually listening. Empathy is a word that’s thrown around a lot but one of the hardest and most important things to practice irl.

  • Ali Hashim5 months ago


  • Ben Shepherd5 months ago

    Great tips. After 26 years of marriage I concur. Disagreements are a natural part of a relationship. How you react and learn from them determines the effect that have.

  • Troi McAdory 5 months ago

    Thank you so much for sharing! I definitely saved your article because it was very insightful. This can be used for other relationships in your life too not just romantic so I appreciate you taking the time to research and provide. Keep up the nice work!

  • Bernard Mac Benli5 months ago

    In order to maintain a good and healthy relationship, there is a lot of Give & Take needed. Don't be too stubborn on each principles of views. There is no right or wrong , its just a personal difference in point of views. The guys, if you are there, do keep your cool down and be the 1st to apologize. Will make a long way to go...

  • BEER BRAND5 months ago

    ITS GREAT!!!

  • This is an effective approach. Thanks for the insightful advice!

  • Martina Milito5 months ago

    Post molto buono. Il consiglio è dato da una prospettiva psicologica, il che è fantastico.

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