How to Stop Arguments and Turn Them Into Discussions Part 3 of 3 by Dr. Marty (Marriage Counselor)
In this post, I will give you two simple things you can do if you are stuck, and your discussion is quickly turning into an argument. In part 4 in this series, I will share another powerful perspective that will give you an understanding about how to stop a discussion from becoming a fight.
Two Strategies I Give During Couples Counseling
Below are two simple strategies you can use if you are stuck in a discussion. You may even know them, but remembering to do them when you are under pressure is what is going to make the difference. The two strategies are:
- Take a break
- Work on a creative solution
1. Take a break
Too often discussions get out of hand because folks get frustrated. When one person is not able to get the other person to see their point of view, they just push harder, and that intensity turns into a fight.
During our Marriage Counseling meetings
During our couples counseling sessions, I say to folks “If you are not able to figure out a solution, and the discussion is moving in the direction of an argument, stop the action.” You can say: “We are stuck” and “Let’s stop right now and both think for a while to see if we can come up with a creative solution.”
2. Work on a creative solution.
A basic principle that couples learn during marriage counseling is: “Discussions become fights when there is a win/loss attitude.” A way to get past that perspective into a win/win situation is to figure out a creative solution.
During our Couples Counseling meeting, I might give the following example:
Let’s say one person wants to spend more money on a car than their partner.
Creative solution #1
Find the same car in an older model.
Creative solution #2
Buy the car but put off buying the car until money is saved.
Creative solution #3
Buy a similar car or a lesser model of the car that in question.
Creative solution #4
Figure out something that you can do to modify your budget and lessen expenses.
The above are only four examples of “creative solutions,” the idea here is if there is a black and white situation – that is we either buy the car or we don’t – then arguments occur.
Combining working on a creative solution with taking a break can be an very effective strategy.
What to say: “We are stuck here. Let’s both stop for a while and think about how we can come up with something that works for both of us.”
If you share a story about strategies you have used in your relationship, and whether they’ve worked or not, I’ll send you a free copy of my book Negotiation for Couples: From Conflict to Cooperation.
Marriage Counseling Tip: A good marriage counselor should never take sides, rather during couples counseling, the couples should be helped to be creative rather than victorious.
If you are stuck in your relationship, let me know that you have read this article, and have tried these techniques, and if they haven’t worked I’ll discount our first couples counseling session.
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Thanks for the kind words.