Most arguments between husbands and wives (partners) can be avoided. To do this, we need to stop and listen, take responsibility for our words and actions, and avoid getting defensive.
Here is an example of how to get into an argument.
Wife: Honey, I don’t like when you use my car and don’t lock it up.
Husband: What do you mean? I always lock your car after using it.
Wife: That’s not true. Yesterday I found my car unlocked after you used it.
Husband: Are you sure? I am positive I locked it. I always intend to lock it.
Wife: Yes, I am sure. If you want to use my car, I would request you lock it when you are done.
Husband: But I do always lock it. Maybe I shouldn’t use your car, just in case I “forget” to lock it.
Wife: You don’t need to get defensive. Are you willing to lock my car when you use it?
Husband: Not if you expect me to be “perfect.” Is that what you think I need to be? Perfect? Besides when you use my car, you sometimes leave it unlocked, and I don’t bug you about it.
Wife: I am not talking about this anymore since you can’t seem to take responsibility for your actions. Make your own lunch.
In this example, the wife is not talking to an emotionally mature husband. Instead she is talking to an emotionally immature adult who is showing up as a teenager by not listening, not taking responsibility, and getting defensive.
Now, let’s see what this conversation can look like when the husband shows up as an emotionally mature adult.
Wife: Honey, I don’t like when you use my car and don’t lock it up when you are done
Husband: I didn’t realize I may have left your car open. I will be more careful in the future. I am sorry.
Wife: Thanks. Let’s go get a bite to eat.
Notice how short conversations are when we take responsibility, and show up as “emotionally intelligent” adults.
Here are three proven ways to avoid (shorten) arguments with your partner:
- Stop and Really Listen – this is simple, yet hard to do.
- Take responsibility – acknowledge what you did, instead of denying it.
- Don’t get defensive and deflect – when we get defensive, we dig in and stop listening. This happened when the husband asked his wife if she expected him to be perfect. He deflected when he told her that she does the same thing, which is irrelevant. It’s OK not to be perfect.
In summary, stop, listen, take responsibility, and let go of needing to be perfect or defensive.