How are you misunderstood as a man?

Arguing Properly: How to Resolve Relationship Conflicts

"You just leave everything lying around", "You never help around the house", "You are not interested in anything, except football": If you know this or similar controversial topics, you are not alone. But how do you deal with it, especially in the heat of the moment? We give an overview of proven and self-tested strategies as well as new insights into communication in the relationship.

The excitement topics - typical controversial topics in the partnership

A partnership grows over the years. You know and get along better, you become more tolerant. That's the theory. The reality is more and more often different. There can be quarrel even after many years of relationship. According to an RTL report, 94% of all couples argue regularly. Even long-term partners are not immune to separations, as the prominent example Lothar Späth showed: The former Prime Minister of Baden-Württemberg left his wife after 51 years of marriage at the age of 76.

There are numerous tips from communication experts to ensure that harmony remains normal. They know how to cope with everyday conflicts without pulling the rip cord directly. As critical as the phases in which harmony is particularly stressed - moving in together, having the first child, making a career jump, moving out of the children, entering retirement - the things that lead to everyday relationship gossips are often as banal. Among the innumerable surveys or assessments on the subject, one source of conflict is always at the top: housework. Waste of money or even jealousy are relegated to the back seat due to the everyday frustration of disorder.

The top 10 causes of disputes in partnerships (survey of 1,000 readers of the magazine "Funk-Uhr"):

  1. Order or disorder
  2. Lack of attention or appreciation
  3. Money issues: who pays what?
  4. Visiting relatives and relatives
  5. Driving style
  6. raising children
  7. Love, sex and tenderness
  8. Television program
  9. handling money
  10. Clothing style

The well-known survey portal Statista sees similar conflict issues in partnerships among its just over 1,000 online users surveyed, but puts the overarching term “bad habits” in first place. Depending on your point of view, probably every partner has that.

Solve conflicts in a partnership without any problems?

Quarrel creates stress in a partnership. Banal conflicts in particular have the potential to put a lasting strain on relationships. No wonder that relationship guides were in demand in the 1950s (“The Handbook of Good Marriage”) as were communication tips in both reputable magazines and entertainment papers today. What many of them have in common is that they sound logical, but are not always used in the dispute itself. Also because every person acts differently in a conflict and different characteristics come together in a partnership, from the dominant loudspeaker to the conflict-shy partner. Therefore, today psychologists and couple therapists give different tactics for different people:

  1. For many years, experts have been defining typical formulation traps and classic communication errors in disputes. Everyone knows them, because they often revolve around the things that happen “over and over again”. It is understandable that the intensity of reproach against the partner is always increasing, while the person being scolded blocks more and more. The most common solution is: things that are disturbing should not be brought forward as reproaches, but rather articulated as a personal feeling.
  2. Just stay calm: Not a bad strategy, especially when it comes to trivialities. According to a recent study by San Francisco State University, married couples live happier as they get older if they don't discuss everything, but rather tolerate and keep quiet more often.
  3. Sounds like a riot, but it can have the effect of a cleansing thunderstorm: Let everything out, because if you get annoyed, you can occasionally show it. The problem is not volume, but a lack of respect.

Sometimes you have to quarrel in a partnership, because you learn a little more about each other. (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)

How to improve your communication

From the multitude of tips, you should heed those that suit your own personality and that of your partner. Even with me it is often trivial things that lead to conflicts, mostly the budget is the trigger. Here I value a tidy and clean apartment, while my partner appreciates her creative chaos or perceives things very differently from me. Allegations didn't improve anything, just frustration, so I decided to use a combination of two tactics: I address my wishes calmly, but also try to ignore disorder more often. It's not always easy, but it helps. Maybe you too.

5 tips that have positively influenced my conflict resolution

  1. Clear and honest expression of wishes
    Anyone who opens up and puts inner feelings outwards does not blame the other, but shows what the partner's action is doing to you. Ideally, this creates understanding and the desire to improve the situation for those who suffer.
  2. Keeping the goal in mind and not deviating from the original topic: focus on conflict resolution
    Everyone knows how quickly it goes from “Can you maybe put your things in the closet” to “You don't care about me and you don't respect me”. This is not constructive, it just ensures that specific problems are shifted to general areas that cannot be changed on the side. It is better to really discuss the usually simple acute conflict point and define possible solutions.
  3. Let him finish
    Even if the emotions boil up, it is essential to show respect for the partner. Particularly important: Let him or her finish speaking and convey the feeling that you are taking your partner seriously. At the same time, this simple de-escalating strategy ensures that the pace is taken out of the situation and that one does not stir up each other.
  4. Really listen
    By actively listening, you respond specifically to statements made by your partner and react. An open posture, words of understanding - "aha", "hm" - and summaries ("So you say that you would be better if I tidy up briefly once a day") indicate real interest. Furthermore, not everyone only formulates attacks, but rather responds to the statements of the partner. In this way, you break up familiar patterns of action and discuss solutions-oriented. Also, avoid wanting to foresee what your partner will say and react. Sentences like “You can't be talked to anyway” or “You don't want to change anything about it anyway” lead much more often to a defiant reaction on the part of the other person, which confirms exactly these statements as a self-fulfilling prophecy.
  5. There is no place for pride, humor helps
    Admit mistakes, apologize where necessary, and may even use humor to resolve situations. Self-deprecation can sometimes work wonders.

6 communication killers and better alternatives

Are there words and phrases that you or your partner can reliably piss off? Accusations paired with exaggerations, always the same generalizations? If that is the case, you should both think about the formulations used, as they make constructive discussions almost impossible. The opposite closes immediately. Some typical formulation traps are.

  1. “Always”, “never”, “constantly” and “every time”. These phrases include both future and past. You express subliminally: "You have always done that, you do not change, you will always do it ...". An example: “You always leave your things lying around!”. The easiest way out of this communication dead end: Stick to the specific situation and a specific request: “Your socks are piling up next to the shower. Can you put them in the laundry, please? ”Admittedly, it is not always easy to give instructions to an adult that are more appropriate for the teenage son. Try it anyway ...
  2. "You ... you ... you!": The classic in a dispute. All accusations apply to the partner, they pelt like fireworks on him. This makes them a trigger for counterattacks. Usually better: use first-person sentences and express personal feelings. "I feel stressed when things are lying around everywhere and I have the feeling that I can never calm down because of it." This is how your partner recognizes your perspective. Exceptions confirm the rule: According to expert Friedemann Schulz von Thun, communication psychology believes that a short and temporary phase of you messages, i.e. specifically formulated attacks and accusations, can meanwhile also be beneficial if clear words are necessary and conflicts have been avoided for a long time .
  3. "You are ..." as opposed to "That which is doing ...": Generalizations make you angry when you meet the partner in person. The same applies here: Criticize the behavior of your partner, but do not judge his person or characteristics in general.
  4. "You are to blame if we argue": Be careful with accusations or blame. The partner certainly sees things differently and feels misunderstood or hurt. Instead: describe the situation and describe your own feelings.
  5. “I don't care”: Ignoring doesn't help anyone. Sympathy and understanding for the partner ensure solutions and, at best, harmony.
  6. "Let's discuss this now": Not always the ideal solution. Couples who have been together for a long time are more likely to avoid conflicts. They focus on positive things or avoid contentious topics instead of discussing them repeatedly and without result. Many drive it very well.

Arguing properly takes us further

Anyone who is still a couple decades after marriage is doing something right. And that also has to do with communication in the event of a dispute. Many couples quarrel every day, but have found ways to come to terms with the daily happiness of the partnership and appreciate the long cohesion. Even more: A quarrel can have the effect of a cleansing thunderstorm that briefly brings the feelings to a boil, but then intensifies the positive emotions. In other words: the pronunciation during or after a conflict also creates closeness and trust. It strengthens us in the certainty that we are a team and that we can master difficult situations. Even a daily ascent and descent is so often less serious than it looks. This includes taking simple tips to heart or being able to overlook things. For us, the most important thing is: Even in a dispute, it should always only be about the matter and the partner should be treated with respect.