How to diffuse arguments over touchy subjects?
June 14, 2010 9:03 AM Subscribe
My partner and I are looking for resources and tips for diffusing arguments before they escalate into big fights.
posted by anonymous to human relations (22 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
We don’t fight often, but probably quarterly we’ll get into a real battle royale with yelling and tears and one of us leaving the house for a while to cool off. (Note: these fights never become violent, and only in the very worst of them do either of us resort to name calling or hurtful cursing, i.e. “Fuck you.”) We know what issues are most likely to provoke arguments – finances and distribution of household labor – and we understand why those are touchy subjects for both of us. We know what our triggers are – raised, angry voices for my partner due to growing up with parents who communicate entirely by screeching at each other, and for me, a feeling of not being heard or having my opinions disregarded due to my own past experiences. Unfortunately, when I feel I’m not being heard, I tend to get louder and more aggressive, which triggers my partner who then shuts down and shuts me out, which triggers my fear of not being heard, which makes me louder and more aggressive and, well, you can see that this doesn’t go anywhere productive.
Having a major fight every three to four months might seem reasonable, but we’re seriously considering having a baby, and there’s nothing like a baby to increase the amount of conflict around finances and household labor. Because of our familial backgrounds, it is very important to both of us that we don’t raise a child in a house full of anger and conflict. We’re looking into couple’s counseling and will likely meet with someone for some first-hand help, but we are also interested in books that offer advice on how to diffuse arguments before they escalate into major fights as well as techniques that have worked for you in this situation.
Neither one of us has any intention of or interest in dumping the other motherfucker, so no calls to DTMFA, please. And thanks for the help!