Are you living in a household with people whose religious faith differs from yours?
Do you and your partner disagree politically? Does the upcoming presidential primary season signal a renewal in spirited battles to see each others side?
Here’s what inspired today’s post. The Republic National Convention took place this week in San Diego, California. The GOP has several battles on their hands. They are fighting with each other and with the Democrats.
Agree on the rules:
- Have a realistic goal. Not fighting in the first place is often not realistic. If this is the case, perhaps the goal should be to have a healthy discussion before the conversation gets out of control.
- Agree on cues that signal the conversation is getting out of control for you. In my post How to End Communication Problems Once and For All Part II I discussed counting to five silently. I explained this would give five beats to enable tensions to diffuse and ensure your partner had finished speaking. You don’t want to add to his or her mounting aggravation by cutting off the person’s words. Now I’m suggesting counting to five out loud. This would be a verbal cue that you feel the conversation is turning into an argument.
- You could even walk away. This is a visual cue that tensions are mounting for you. The two of you can return to the table when you are both calmer.
- I do not allow the words “Shut up” in my home or in my classroom. To quote an article I read on Pinterest, “‘Be quiet’ sounds ten times better.”
- Do not play “The Blame Game”. Work on solutions not what or who caused the friction.
- Don’t expect the other person to change. Look at the discussion as airing different views, not an attempt to effect long-term change in the other person. In life you are supposed to “hope for the best, but expect the worst.” That applies here.
- Change the subject. People often forget why they’re upset.
- “Draw a line in the sand,” and agree not to talk about past events before a certain date. This will end the resentment build up that occurs in longer relationships. Agree to “draw a line in the sand” and start fresh. What happened before no longer matters, for both of you.
- No hurtful language of any kind.
- Make house rules. Clear, consistent rules work well. For example, in my home, one of my rules is we criticize the behavior, not the person. For this reason, I don’t let my children call each other names. Case in point, one of my daughters tried to call another of my daughters “genius” with sarcasm and even “retard”. Definitely not cool! They may criticize the behavior that is upsetting them without criticizing the person.
- Give your children equal time. I once had a mom say to me that she doesn’t give her children equal time because she gave them siblings. You don’t want to give your children cause for jealousy. Have traditions with each of them if you don’t have regular time you can set aside.
- Set a good example for the children. If they see you and your spouse have a difference of opinion that didn’t turn into a fight, they will be able to emulate that behavior. To quote a song title from the musical Into the Woods, Children Will Listen.
- Reader choice–not mine! When I interviewed 30 people about The 15 Secrets of Marital Longevity, two of them said to argue naked. In all honesty, I’ve never tried it, but I can see it working. If you felt self-conscious, you’d want to walk away or end the argument. If you didn’t feel self-conscious, what started as an argument could turn into a love-making session.
If you feel any of these tips can help others, please share.
Readers, what “tricks” work in your home to stop bickering? Have you ever tried any of these suggestions and can give feedback how they worked? I look forward to your views.