Being in a relationship is wonderful when you agree on issues, but it can be so very infuriating when you disagree. As a couple in love, it is natural to fight once in a while. At first you may worry that this will ruin your relationship, however being angry or frustrated with your partner doesn’t need to be destructive if you know how to properly approach the argument. The best way to tell your partner they are wrong is to convince them in a way that subtly eases them into the realisation they are incorrect, using logic, reason and facts.
How to make your Point
How you handle conflicts can define your relationship. Fighting fair is critical to the long-term success of a partnership.
1. Pick your battles: How important is this argument? What will you gain by pointing out that your partner is wrong?
2. Pick your time carefully: No one likes to lose face in front of a crowd. Have the discussion in private and make sure you have your partner’s full attention.
3. Stay calm: Keep a level head – getting angry and emotional will just make your partner defensive.
4. Be prepared: Make sure you have considered the facts and that you are actually right.
5. Have an open mind: You feel you are right but your partner may feel strongly about their position. Remember they may have a point – there is always a chance you could be wrong.
6. Take your partner’s perspective: Ask yourself why your partner thinks they’re right. This will either make you more confident in your opinion and give you better reasoning techniques, or convince you that you are in fact wrong.
7. Focus on behaviour not character: Don’t make your partner being wrong a criticism of their intelligence or character. This just weakens your argument and puts your partner on the defensive.
8. Offer solutions: Your partner will be more inclined to believe they are wrong if you offer an alternative.
9. Ease into it: Try the gently, gently approach – don’t be aggressive.
10. Keep it short and sweet: Edit it down and limit your comments to clear, concise sentences. Think about what you want to focus on and don’t get on your soap box.
11. Pause and ask for feedback: Make the communication 2-way.
12. Try the sandwich technique: Sandwich the fact that your partner is wrong about this particular issue between two positive qualities about them.
13. Negotiate and compromise: This is crucial in relationships. Come to a solution you are both happy with.
14. Have a cooling off period: Heated arguments won’t be resolved until you’ve both calmed down.
15. Know who you are talking to: There isn’t a one size fits all approach to telling your partner they are wrong. Different approaches will work better for some people.
16. Admit when you make a mistake: It’s hard to convince your partner they are wrong if you never own up to your own faults.
What not to do
1. Don’t try to hurt your partner: Don’t let rip with insults and cutting remarks, and no name calling. You may feel angry but the satisfaction is only short lived.
2. Don’t catastrophise and don’t attack: Keep things in perspective, stick to facts, avoid over generalising and steer clear of sentences that start with “You always…”
3. Don’t use the silent treatment: No argument was ever resolved by not talking to each other – this will only prolong the disagreement.
4. Don’t bring up the past: Leave the past where it belongs – in the past. Stick to the point you are focussing on.
5. Don’t use emotional blackmail: Avoid sentences that start with “If you loved me, you’d …” This is simply manipulation and will create a power struggle which will lead to resentment.
6. Don’t try and get the last word: Arguing isn’t fun for anyone involved. When a fight has run its course, just let it go.
7. Don’t set out to win: Your goal should be to become closer and resolve conflict. Having a fair and respectful argument can actually improve your relationship.
Is it time to make up?
At certain times, you may just need to give up and apologise. Take a step back to think about whether the argument is really worth it. Do you have to fight about this? If it’s really important and hurting you a lot, then go ahead and keep fighting. But if it’s actually not that big a deal, just say you’re sorry and move on.
Don’t focus too much on the little things.
Remember, all arguments stem from a difference in values and an inability to find common ground. If the relationship is worth saving, you need to find a solution where both partners are happy (or happyish). Think about what you want to get out of this fight, find out what your partner wants… and then both work together to figure out a solution. Relationships are about compromise. You might not get exactly what you want, but that’s okay.
If you need help resolving disagreements in your relationship, call Wellbeing Therapy Space on 1300 208 680.
Author: Claire Mansveld
Photo: Steve Johnson of Unsplash