Next time you find yourself in a too-familiar argument with your partner, try to resolve it differently. Small steps to improve how you communicate can lead to big changes in the quality of your relationship.


When resolving difficulties in your relationships, don’t make it harder for yourself and your partner. Be aware of what you might be doing that is ruining your relationship, affecting your partner’s self-esteem and confidence and leaving you feeling disappointed, frustrated and disheartened.

If you keep on arguing about the same issue again and again, try to work through it together.


Working through your disagreements

When couples attempt to work through some of their disagreements in their own way often the outcome is quite productive. Couples may end up feeling closer to each other, supported and better understood, and may discover new ways to communicate and connect with each other.

However, in others cases the outcomes are not good. The partners feel upset with each other, rejected, disrespected, and overall disheartened that they tried a supposedly great strategy to resolve their differences but now feel distant from each other.

For example, Laura says: “I can’t keep on doing it any more, I always tell him how I feel and he just shuts me off.” Furthermore, Laura provides an example of how she shares her feelings, explaining, “I tell him that he does not get it, that he is not involved, he drives me mad and I can’t stand it any more – I want to leave”. While Laura may be attempting to communicate her feelings it might be difficult for Patrick to respond because he might not fully know what drives Laura mad or he might be confused about the ‘not involved’ comment.

As a result, Laura might feel that she communicates well and explains how she feels whereas Patrick might not know how to respond and might be feeling confused and defensive.

At times, Laura might feel that her strategy is effective when Patrick responds to her in the way she finds appropriate. However, if Patrick does not have a clear understanding of the problem he might start feeling resentful, and think that Laura is spoilt and does not care about his needs and wants. The end result is difficulties in the relationship that, if not addressed, might compromise its future.

In order to talk about any difficulties effectively, it might be more beneficial to rethink your strategy. See if these three options help you find a resolution:

  • Let go of the past
  • Do not try to change your partner’s nature (accept who they are)
  • Be honest, be specific and ask for what you want.
  1. You can’t change the past – let it go

When you want to express your dissatisfaction and want your partner to make some changes, you need to make sure your partner has the ability to do so. For example, your partner cannot change her past, so if you keep on bringing it up in a negative and derogatory way it simply cannot be helpful for your relationship.

The past has already happened so it can’t be changed, it has gone. Your partner today has dealt with the consequences of past decisions. If your partner made a mistake in the past and has dealt with it and it does not happen any more, let it go, don’t hang onto past mistakes. If your partner once took a risk and it did not pay off, don’t keep reminding her. It will impact on her self-esteem and will make her not trust you.

It is a different story if your partner repeatedly makes the same decisions that have a negative impact on her and on the quality of your relationship. In such a case, it is important to find a way to manage this issue.

  1. Don’t try to change your partner’s nature

You are two different people, with different temperaments, experiences, likes and talents. Try to understand your partner: the way he thinks, his fears and his strengths, his motivations and dislikes. Don’t try to change who he is. First of all, you will not succeed. Secondly, you put your relationship at risk.

Attempt a compromise. Withhold the judgment and criticism of your partner. If your partner is adventurous and you prefer to spend the whole day near the pool reading a book, think about how you can compromise. Don’t convince him that he should really stay and enjoy what you enjoy rather than engage in something that makes him happy. Or, if you like shopping trips and your partner hates shopping, it is better not to drag him along – let him prove his love in other ways.

Don’t make him feel bad about who he is. Help him to understand you better and also learn about him. When you talk about issues, stay on the issue and don’t make it personal. Avoid sending a message that something is wrong with the way he is, try harder to understand the way he is.

  1. Be honest, be specific, ask for what you want

I often hear complaints about the expectation that a partner must be intuitive and predict what the other partner might want in a given situation. While it is great when your partner tunes in with how you are feeling and offers appropriate support, often we simply don’t know what is the best thing to do. Start by giving your partner some help – let your partner know what you need.

A typical scenario goes like this:  Alice says, “You are so insensitive, you just don’t care about me, you don’t care when I am crying”. Mark responds: “I just don’t know whether to hug you or to leave you alone. Yesterday when I hugged you, you pushed me away. Today you are angry with me because I left you alone. I just don’t know what you want”.

So often we get it wrong, because we don’t know exactly what our partner needs. It might be beneficial if you simply let your partner know what you want. For example, you can say: “Mark, when I am sad I really need a hug from you”. Don’t say: “I want you to be more intuitive and more involved”. What does ‘more intuitive’ mean?  And how should someone interpret ‘more involved’? Mark might interpret it his own way, and this might not include hugs when you are sad. Avoid feeling disappointed – if you need a hug, let your partner know that you need a hug.

Think about your interaction with your partner and how you discuss difficult issues. What about that last argument you had? Experiment with these suggestions, choose the one that appeals to you the most and start there.

Small changes in the way you interact with your partner will make big differences in the quality of your relationship with them. Ultimately, this is what matters the most if both of you are happy in the relationship, if both of you feel respected, understood and appreciated.

Posted November 19, 2014 by Yuliya Richard.
License: Creative Commons Copyright
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