Having an argument does not mean that your relationship is in trouble. Disagreements and differences are an inevitable part of every relationship and what matters is how we discuss and solve disagreements.
The following four strategies from relationship guru John Gottman will help you break patterns of negativity and take a positive approach to solving problems:
1. “Calm down”: You can’t resolve your differences productively if your heart is racing and you feel overwhelmed. Before you respond, take a deep breath, count to 5 and think about your response.
Halt the negative cycle of your thoughts by replacing negative thoughts with positive ones. This is often hard to do but by taking a deep breath and calming yourself physically, you have a chance. A proven approach is to repeat back to your partner exactly what you heard. You can then seek to understand what was said, giving yourself time to reflect.
If the argument starts to get out of hand, ask for a “time out.” Taking 5 to 20 minutes away from your partner will calm you enough to allow you to listen better and discuss the subject objectively rather than emotionally. Soothe yourself by taking deep breaths, a short walk, or even a short drive.
Tip two, next week…
Do you need help with an issue or problem? Our approach helps to generate deep and productive conversations that couples would not otherwise have about their relationship. These conversations can restore insight and understanding about one another.