resolve differences

How to resolve differences as a couple

Having differences in opinion is natural when you’re spending your lives together.Find out how you can have constructive discussions instead of arguments…

resolve differences


Having differences in opinion is natural when you’re spending your lives together.

The key to long‐term harmony in a relationship is to understand the difference between an argument and a discussion. Resolving issues as a couple involves learning the art of good communication, negotiation and compromise.

Find out what the argument is really about

  • Stress: being stressed out in other areas of your life, such as work or health, can spill over into the area of relationship.  Something seemingly quite trivial suddenly flares up into an argument.
  • Past resentment: if issues are not dealt with positively in the past and resolved, they will tend to recur time and again, sometimes flaring up unexpectedly or being brought up with things that are not connected to it.
  • Control: if a partner has his or her own issues to do with the need to control the other, this could lead to resentment when met with resistance by the other. In case you both have ‘control’ issues it could lead to some seriously heated battles.
  • Deeper needs: arguments on topics such as sex, housework or finances may have more to do with unfulfilled needs for love, respect or worth.
  • Excitement: for some couples or for one of the partners, an argument is a way of sharing feelings, getting attention or adding excitement to the relationship. The pay‐off could be making up afterwards and reaffirming your love for each other, but there could be long‐term underlying issues that remain unresolved.

What to do during an argument

  • Sit down, relax your muscles; don’t stand up or pace the room as this is likely to make you feel more agitated.
  • Take deep breaths and concentrate on staying calm.
  • Imagine someone you respect being an impartial observer on the scene, it’ll help to put the issue and your manner of dealing with it into perspective.
  • Listen to what is being said rather than thinking about what you want to say back.
  • Wait for your turn to speak by letting your partner have their say first.
  • Instead of an arguing mode, bring it to a level of discussion.
  • Stick firmly only to the issue at hand, without bringing in other issues.
  • Separate how you feel about what is being discussed, from the issue itself.
  • Offer your partner options on how the argument may be resolved.

How to resolve five major causes of arguments

  1. Money: This subject causes more heated arguments than any other. This is a subject that should be dealt with fairly early on.  Decisions need to be taken on joint accounts, budgets and who pays for what, along with some basic ground rules on dealing with credit cards and debt.
  2. Housework: Usually it is one partner who feels that the load is not distributed equally.  Rotas and timetables work only if both partners are consulted, rather than one partner imposing it on the other. Often the issue is not just about the actual effort but about care and respect.
  3. Family and friends: In‐laws, children and ex‐partners are all highly emotive subjects and a level of compromise will be needed for the sake of peace and harmony. Sensitivity to the other’s feelings is essential to avoid hurt and resentment in this most volatile of areas.
  4. Sex: rows to do with how often to have sex can often be about the feelings of being loved and the need for affection. Allow for quality couple-time each week, even if it means making an appointment in your diary and make sure you touch your partner every day, even if it’s just a hug in the morning.
  5. Holidays: With all the investment of money and energy that goes into going away, holidays are also often the cause of major arguments. The feeling of disappointment when the holiday doesn’t match expectation can cause a serious rift, particularly if the relationship is going through a rough patch as well. While weather or unexpected cancellations cannot be planned for, you can avoid disagreements by working out what each person wants to do or wants to avoid doing while on holiday. A discussion on what each partner is looking for in the holiday should be held well before the holiday is booked.

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