Fierce

Long Term Couples Share Their Advice For ‘Successfully’ Arguing In A Strong Relationship

All couples have their arguments, but it’s only the ones who know how to tackle a disagreement in the right way that will stick it out for the longterm. Happy couples who have “successful” relationships have “successful” arguments, ones where they know that the real “win” is when two partners are able to settle on a solution together and without real attempts at hurting their spouse.

So what works for happy couples who approach arguments with grace?

Reddit Users in longterm relationships share all of the ways to argue successfuly.

“This is a very important lesson that I took away from a self help book that has served me well: ‘Did he do something TO hurt you? Or did he do something that happened to hurt you?’ If the answer is the latter, then you are (at least partially) responsible for your own emotional response. Understanding yourself and why something upsets you is essential.”- bonnieirisheyes

“This is really important. However, it’s also important for the SO to take ownership of their actions and realize that actions can have unintended consequences.” –katiesham

“I have some trouble with grey areas. Like when someone doesn’t do something TO hurt you but they know that you would get hurt and still do it. I’m wondering if the book has some pointers for this too, you see.”- Redhaired103

“As a general rule, unless you really mean it in general, make sure you don’t make accusations about character but just the behavior. Like if they do something selfish say what they DID was selfish, not “YOU are selfish.” There’s really a big difference between the two.”- Redhaired103

“Yup. My dad called me annoying almost 15 years ago and it permanently changed our relationship. We’ve talked about it since and he said “you were probably being annoying”. I said “then say that. You called ME an annoyance. You. The man I’m supposed to compare every man in my life to.” He still doesn’t see the difference. One is a way I’m acting. The other is me as a person. It still has left me shaken.”- souponastick

“It helps me to remember we’re on the same team fighting the same problem. Then we’re not fighting with each other so much as brainstorming how to fight the problem together.”- tercerero

“That’s a good one. But rather hard to put into practice when I’m angry.”- mandolin2712

“I am glad this is how it is in your relationship, that makes any disagreements so much more bearable, resolvable, and oddly hopeful for going forward.

Some couples cannot say the same, and their fights seemingly come down to arguing the unsolvable, which is a hindrance and a burden, and almost always about a deeper incompatibility. If you’re constantly trying to “compromise” about, say, money, and your SO constantly doesn’t agree and continues their behavior, that’s not on the same team, at all”- abqkat

“Similar: but I always say it’s not about me being right or you being right but it’s about us getting to the truth which is somewhere in the middle.

Other principles we go by are that I am predominantly responsible for my own happiness and my partner is there to help.

When I am upset, I appreciate apologies but bottom line is that both of us are responsible for keeping both of us happy: it isn’t one person’s job nor is it one person’s failure, we are in it together.”- ellebee83

“This is the one that I stick to the most (or try to). We have to be a team. Our enemy isn’t each other, it’s the problem. At the end of the day, we have the same goal to get rid of the problem. We also have the same goal to keep each other. It helps me put things back into perspective at times.”-rivlet

“Always fight to resolve things, not to hurt each other. If you need to get your anger out, vent to a friend. If you’re too angry to be kind, step away until you’re ready. Don’t fight with your partner until you’re in a place where you can tell them why you’re upset and listen to their perspective. It’s sometimes okay to say things that may be hurtful, but you should be saying them because they’re necessary to fix the problem, not because they’re hurtful. If they’re only hurtful, they’re better left unsaid.”- palacesofparagraphs

“It’s not you vs. me but us vs. the problem.” – jtchicago

“That the excuse of “I said it when I was angry,” is unacceptable. You must take responsibility for your words.”- Poppy29252

“Once you say something it can never be unheard.”- PunkinNickleSammich

“Despite the old saying, sometimes it’s OK to go to bed angry. If you’re going around in circles about something, it’s sometimes best to just take a break from the argument and revisit the issue after a good night’s sleep.”- PandorasTrunk

“Sometimes, the only thing that will cure anger is time, and laying it on a partner to say the exact right things to make you not-angry is unfair and sometimes downright impossible.”- all_iswells

“Not even just for sleep, sometimes you just have to let an argument go. I’m vehemently a talk-everything-out kind of person, but recently learned that some arguments won’t go anywhere and won’t get ‘resolved.’ Some differences just have to be accepted instead of solved.”- AiryNan

“I know this in theory, but I can’t stand my partner sleeping when we still are mad at each other. When it happens, I usually spend the night crying and hating myself for not handling it better. And for nothing, because the issue is usually fixed the day after. I wish he was like me on this particular aspect, but it seems that all men I have dated always preferred to sleep over and deal with things later.”- tightheadband

“I’ve had to leave before, which really pissed my BF off. We didn’t live together and I just knew that we were too angry and at the same time didn’t want to sweep it under the rug, so I went back to my place. He wasn’t happy, but I needed time to think and be alone.”- BilbosHandkerchief

“Sometimes you both need time to cool of, the next morning the problem often looks completely ridiculous and you see the issue at hand wasn’t really the reason for the fight. That’s the time you should talk about the underlying reason. What’s bad is going to bed and never mentioning it again.”- Reddit User

“It’s also a good way to check if the thing you were arguing about is more important than being with your SO and how important the issue is TO your SO. Helps clear up what the priority is. Not saying that you shouldn’t talk about it again, but that might also help with the arguing afterwards.”- BadChase

“Voicing, or harboring, contempt may be the single most destructive act you can take in your relationship. Along with some other key behaviors (criticism, stonewalling, and defensiveness) relationships in which the partners show contempt towards each other have been shown to have about 93% chance of ending.

So don’t treat your partner as an inferior, as someone not worthy of you. If you find yourself feeling this, or having regular self-talk in which you are regularly thinking of yourself as superior to your partner or your partner isn’t worthy of you, your relationship may already be beyond hope.”-Reddit User 

“Listen to what they’re actually saying. Remember they have feelings too and that doesn’t make them wrong or right. Feelings are feelings. Use “I feel” statements instead of “you did,” don’t shout at them or speak over them, each person should get a chance to talk without being interrupted, remember to apologize even if you feel or think you did nothing wrong. Swallow your pride, don’t blame, and communicate.”- Reddit User 

“That just because I’m right, doesn’t mean he has to be wrong. There aren’t always two answers. Listening is important. And so is validating others’ feelings, especially anger and frustration. And never, ever, go cold and make it seem as if I don’t love him (I don’t do this, but I’ve had it done to me). It’s OK to argue and confront. It’s OK to want to strangle each other. It’s not OK to withdraw love and warmth and say things that attack a person’s character or our mutual love and respect.”- itsmyvoice

“That they still love you and you still love them(if that’s the case that is). Everyone forgets the other person’s feelings sometimes. You need to remember that you may forget the hurtful things you say under “I was mad” but they might not. It might stick with them and continue hurting even after you say you didn’t mean it.”- Honeybunches94

“Just argue that particular point and only that point, don’t make it personal, and sure as shit don’t drag in the 20 other things that you’ve been holding grievances about over the last x years. Its also not about being right, its about resolving that issue.”- JayTheFordMan

“That your life shouldn’t feel like a ‘rough patch.’ Fights, approaches to fighting, the content, and frequency of the fighting should be, above all else, RESOLVABLE, and not about your/their character or beliefs or values. If you’re having arguments that leave you feeling defeated and hopeless, that’s probably more than just that one fight. I know a couple, together like 8 years, who has about 2-4 monthly “us fights” about money and BIG stuff. You can say “we’re on the same team” or “we just need to work on this” till the cows come home, but if nothing actually resolves, and you’re not on the same proverbial ladder to the same roof, that’s gonna be 

“I was upset that my partner drove on the un-shoveled driveway when I was trying to clear a different part for him to drive on (so there wouldn’t be any hard-packed tire tracks that would turn to ice). He elected to drive on it anyway, after I asked him not to and made a clear path for him elsewhere. I was hurt and confused and felt like he deliberately disrespected me.

Then he told me he has a fear of backing out of the area I cleared, and it’s so bad that it makes him cry. So that’s why he uses the other side. (Edit: and he said he hadn’t told me before because he was ashamed of it.)

I was hung up on feeling like my feelings were justified and that he should just get over it and learn to back out of the cleared area, but after I sat with it a while I realized there are other solutions.

  1. Now I know this, and I will clear the side he DOES like to use first. Even though it takes longer to clear it, I can get started earlier. (If you are wondering why he doesn’t clear it, right now he has a hand injury and can’t use a snow shovel.)
  2. I can offer to back his car out for him.

There are other things we can do to avoid this situation in the future. So it doesn’t really matter about which part of the driveway he uses, and I was NOT being disrespected, but rather he was acting out of a deep fear.”- green_carbon07

“We’re on the same side. When we argue, we either both win or we both lose. I know my wife would never intentionally hurt me and she knows I would never intentionally hurt her. If you can successfully keep that in mind, it’s much easier to realize that everything else is the result of a miscommunication or an honest difference of opinion. It takes work and a commitment to assume good intentions, but if you’re able to do that, it makes things much easier.”- ralevin

“Remember that you love them, and that anything hurtful you say will stay with them. Anytime you want to say something spiteful shut up and count to three.”- reihino1

“That they’re still the same person they were before the problem arose, that you’re still the same person you were before the problem arose, and that everyone makes mistakes.

Don’t attribute anything to malice as a first port of call. The vast majority of the time, it’s not malice. A minority of the time, you will be given evidence that it is malice. Wait for the evidence before you go there. If you start an argument/respond to an argument on the presumption you are being attacked then the other person will naturally feel attacked and start defending themselves. Then you’re just in a spiral of both counter-attacking and nothing gets resolved. Lose the accusations, however, and you can both look at the issue to see what actually went wrong.

On the other side, for people who naturally go too far in the other direction and are too forgiving. Most communication is non-verbal. It is not assertive to stand up only to the verbal part of it. Hold people to account by their tone not just the content of what they say. If they’re speaking to you in an unpleasant tone, tell them you do not want them to speak to you like that. They are adults; just like you; they can handle it if you speak to them sharply. Even kind people will slip in their behavioural standards if they learn they can get away with it. So don’t let them get away with it. A good first port of call to point out to people that they are crossing a line is to make a barbed joke – “aren’t you charming today?” etc.; but if this doesn’t work, then step it up. You don’t need to be aggressive, just firm. Don’t speak to me like that. Don’t do that. Etc. No more is needed. Just stand firm.

Also, there’s nothing wrong with raising your voice, calling someone a name, telling someone to fuck off, etc. sometimes. Advice normally aims at people who are naturally emotionally expressive; not people who are naturally emotional inhibited. But being too “self controlled” is just as destructive as being too “impulsive”. If you do not authentically express emotion sometimes you will not go away feeling the problem is resolved. If you don’t show emotion at all, then the emotional part of the problem does not get healed. If you stick entirely to logic and reason, and you have a mild-mannered debate or conversation about the issue in which you logically agree, and you always do this (thinks back to all my previous relationships) you will find that the relationship, while blissfully low conflict, grows apart and ends amicably when you both realise you’re “just room mates now really”. There isn’t anything inherently wrong with emotional expression. You need it and your partner needs it and your relationship needs it. It’s just about balance and not going overboard. A healthy relationship can withstand arguments because they are adequately resolved and the relationship is properly repaired. Avoiding them entirely only pulls you apart.”-reallybigleg

“Take a step back and ask yourself three questions:

  1. Am I tired, hungry or thirsty? If you’re cranky, it’s usually for one of those three reasons. Cranky people argue more about really dumb things, because they aren’t thinking clearly.
  2. Why do I feel the need to “be right” about this? “Being right” is never more important than your SO’s feelings. Putting your SO down just so you can feel superior is a form of abuse and really childish.
  3. How can I compromise on this issue? The art of compromise is how most relationships survive. Learn to give a little and be fair. Both parties should treat each other with respect.

It’s important to remember that you are with this person for a reason. Probably a lot of reasons. They must have a lot of good qualities you admire. You chose to be in this relationship for those reasons. I find it really hard to argue with my man when I hold his hand or cuddle. We cuddle a lot. None of our “fights” (we barely ever even bicker) last more than two or three minutes.”- Jewels133

“When you do something wrong or hurtful, STOP, and apologize unequivocally. I don’t care how right you are or how important it is, it is NEVER okay to yell, curse, insult, manipulate, lie, or minimize your partner’s feelings. You can resume your argument after you’ve acknowledged your error.”- hocean

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