Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Secret to Stopping an Argument with your Fiance (or anyone else) Before it Starts

Picture this: You come home after a long day of work and wedding related appointments, only to find your fiancé sulking over some leftover takeout. When you ask what's wrong, he begins telling you how you're always coming home late, you never go out anymore, and how this whole wedding thing is taking up all your time. What? Did you just hear him right? Here you are planning every detail of what's to be the most important day in your lives and he's complaining! You're doing the best you can to get every detail taken care of in between work and laundry. Maybe if he were to help a little more, you would have more time. You can see where this is going and how an argument can ensue.
Whatever the case or subject matter, however, there is a secret tool you can use to help diffuse arguments before they start. It takes practice and a cool head on your part, but it works. In psychology it's called the disarming technique. With it, you "disarm" your opponent by finding some truth in what they are saying. That's the hardest part, but generally you can find one point no matter how small, to agree with. In the case above, you might respond with, "You're right. Planning this wedding is taking up a lot of my time and we haven't been going out together as much." This response will shut down the argument factor, because you are essentially agreeing with your partner.
Next, try and put yourself in his shoes. "You must think I've totally forgot about our relationship and what this wedding is about in the first place?" Empathizing with your partner shows you are trying to understand where he is coming from. It also opens it up for a good, honest communication about how he's feeling. Addressing and validating your fiancé's feelings is critical in your relationship. After listening to him, share your feelings too. Saying something like, "I wish I didn't have to spend so much time away from you either. Maybe we can brainstorm some ways to relieve some of the things I have to get done or come up with a date night schedule?"
You can see how this entire example is responsive rather than reactive. That's what your aiming for in all relationships. The disarming technique will work with family members, friends, and wedding professionals too. And while it sounds simple on paper, it's actually quite hard to put into practice when you're in the heat of the moment. But it's not impossible if you practice and keep using it. It's an excellent secret weapon to stopping arguments before they start.

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