Post # 1
after a few arguments that ended the same way – me crying and him walking out of the room – Fiance and I decided to come up with a list of ‘rules’ to try and break the negative pattern we follow when we argue. We came up with a quite a few things and I felt really positive about it, but the reality is, when we get angry the rules just go out the window! So tonight, we just had a really dumb argument that shouldn’t even have happened, and wouldn’t have if we had followed what we had agreed upon. Now i’m sat in the bedroom on my own after crying for about half an hour and he’s in the living room. again.
do any of you have ‘disagreement etiquette’ and how do you remember to use it when you’re really, really pissed off?! thanks!
Post # 3
Maybe you could come up with a code word or a code phrase that things are starting to go too far? We have a code phrase that’s silly that one of us uses to break the tension and momentarily stop things when we argue. Instead of traveling down the same path in the argument, use a code word/phrase to change the course of it. And try to think to yourself “Am I fighting fair? Am I still showing him that I love him even if I disagree?”
Oh geez… Nerd alert on my part. I’m a nurse now but I used to be a counselor and specialized in anger management haha
Post # 4
For me, it is always going in my head that I should love. Always. If I’m having difficulties renewing my mind and changing my behavior, I step outside for a moment or generally take some time to collect myself. I’d rather that than potentially hurt my man.
You could try putting childhood pictures of the two of you up. When things get heated, take a look at the picture of your guy as a child. Even as an adult man, he has the capacity to be hurt; he’s vulnerable and needs love, just like a child needs bounds of love and affirmation. Allow that knowledge to soften your heart, cool your head, and restrain your tongue. As a spouse/FI/gf, the last thing we want to do is hurt someone we love. It is not about winning or proving a point or making the other person understand, but lovingly discussing things in a way that builds the relationship rather than chip away at the foundation.
Post # 5
@londongal: Interesting thread. Just keep in mind that any behavioral changes or changes to your communication patterns are going to be EXTREMELY difficult at first. Habits are hard to break. It sounds like you made a pretty extensive list of “rules”–that’s great, but I would recommend not being over-ambitious in this endeavor. Keep in mind that fights are natural and can even be healthy (though, of course, they can also be destructive). It might be a better idea to “start small” at first. Maybe pick ONE rule that is relatively easy to implement, that might help things even a little bit…and try to work on that for a couple of weeks, a month, or more. What is your biggest “problem” that is arising when you are fighting? Is it that you get heated and say cruel things to each other that you don’t necessarily mean? If so, then maybe your starting rule should be that if either one of you senses that the conversation is heading into cruel-town, you say a word (any word! the more ridiculous, the better! it can be “elephantitis,” for all I care!) that will basically be the indicator that maybe you two should step down and cool off.
Also, how frequently are you fighting? Are you able to talk more rationally when you’ve both calmed down? Have your fights helped you to resolve or work through any issues in your relationship that you had possibly been ignoring previously? What types of “fight rules” did you make? Disagreements can be a good form of communication and you want to be sure that your guidelines don’t shut down the conversation, if that makes any sense.
One tactic I’ve found incredibly useful in fights with my fiance is trying as much as possible to say exactly what I’m feeling, even if I don’t fully understand why I’m feeling it. If I feel like crying, I’ll say, literally, “I feel really sad.” If I’m angry, I’ll say “I feel really upset and angry with you.” By focusing on myself and my emotions, I can at least acknowledge what I’m feeling and, in turn, my fiance is able to acknowledge what he is feeling. I’ve found that once we can name what we’re feeling, we are able to talk about things much more rationally and get at what’s really going on underneath the surface. I don’t have any grand advice on how to do this, it’s just a matter of thinking about it and practicing. I never used to do this, and now sometimes I use it as a technique even when I’m in other situations and feeling emotional for no apparent reason.
Post # 6
rule #1, i am always right
rule #2, refer rule #1 🙂
we rarely argue and when we do its usually pretty calm with slight attitude but crying, screaming, name calling and storming out never happens – we didnt need to agree on this, its just our personalities
Post # 7
I think that it begins with you remembering that you have rules. You should go out there and say “hey, we made rules for these things and both of us aren’t abiding by them, let’s figure out what we did wrong so we can prevent it from happening again.” This way, you open up discussion and next time, you might remember your “rules” a bit earlier in the argument. It takes time to change patterns of behavior. Be patient!
Post # 8
@Grizz: yup we do the same thing.
One weekend we went to visit DHs parents and since we are usually more stressed there we tend to get into more fights. We decided before going to use a code word (Cornelius) whenever the other person was starting to get snippy or angry. Just having the code word helped a lot. At the end of the weekend Cornelius had only been said once and it had worked too!
Post # 9
We have certain rules, and if things are starting to get out of hand one of us reminds the other of them. “honey, we agreed to not do that” “you know when you do that it upsets me”
Fiance forgets more than I do, so I generally just have to go “really?” and he applogises.
But generally, we dont fight. We used to, but we talked to each other about how to talk to the other when something upsets us, and it has helped turn us from the couple that screams at each other because we both dont understand, to “honey next time blah blah blah” Although Fiance tend to laugh when he knows I would REALLY like to ream him about something he did to upset me.
Post # 10
Hi bees, great suggestions – especially the code word! I really think that’s what we need, it’s just that ONE of us needs to remember!! Fortunately we have never, ever had arguments where we’ve done name calling or throwing things or anything like that, those are huge no’s for me and i wouldn’t put up with any of that (having been in some previously much worse relationships!). So it’s not that I ever say anything I regret and he doesn’t either, it just turns into a ‘you said this, so i said that’ kind of thing that just goes round and round in circles, where we both keep repeating ourselves but more and more loudly (like that’s going to change the other person’s mind – lol!) and it doesn’t get anywhere, then out of sheer frustration I’ll just burst into tears because i feel like he can’t see where I’m coming from, and he just clams up and sits in silence. There is a definite pattern and when I realised that was when I suggested the ‘rules’ that we came up with together but I think @mckernae: is right, we have been too ambitious! We need to just focus on one or two for now – probably our 5 minute time-out one is the best one where we just chill out and then talk again when we’ve calmed down.
Things are stressful at the moment because we are simultaneously trying to buy a house and not having much success, and also trying to plan next year’s wedding – I would never recommend doing these things simultaneously! So it is stuff related to both of those things. Which I find depressing because instead of looking forward to moving and the wedding, I just think oh god, all these conversations are going to turn into an argument and then put all my energy into trying to stop it from happening instead of looking forward to the future! Gah!!!
Post # 11
@BackyardLoveBird: oh yeah, and I did do that last night – I went out into the room he was in and said, ok so we’ve both ignored the rules. How can we stop that from happening again? and he just was slumped there looking miserable and mumbled ‘I don’t know, I’m too tired to think about this right now’ so then I was SO PISSED OFF at his reaction and wanted to just punch him in the face (i didn’t, obviously!) that lo and behold, another argument started….. sigh!
Today I’m really tired, didn’t sleep well at all and have puffy eyes from crying. This is so dumb, considering what we were actually arguing over which was something that we feel the same about anyway! So I ended up crying again last night after we tried to talk about it because all I can see is our lives stretching out before us with these stupid, stupid arguments. and I suggested counselling (again!) and he said no (again!! He said ‘maybe this is just the way we are’ which made me cry even more). But he has agreed to read whatever book I give him. So any books to help would be great!
Post # 12
I have one rule….never say anything to him that would crush me if said to me. And I never DO anything to him or behind his back that would crush me if he did it to me, Period. And he lives by the same decree. Thus, we never argue. And simple disagreements are pretty easy to solve. and make you more apt to figure things out in a calm manner. The last things I want to see is a very sad look on his face, then me replay in my head what I said as if he were saying it to me, then suddenly realize how sad he is. :*( Hope this helps girl. When we started doing this 4 years ago, we have had no more bumps in our road that we didn’t tackle together.
Post # 13
I LOVE the code word tips bees!!!! That’s so awesome, I am going to try that now! 🙂
One thing I ALWAYS like to remember is don’t let pride get in the way. As in when you two are arguing remember you are fighting a losing battle because you are fighting with the one person you are suppose to be working with in lifes challenges together! You two are on the same team, not against each other–Keep that in mind, also!
Some more tips-
Think before you speak, always!
Don’t say anything to him that you would not want him saying to you!
Look at him, I mean REALLY look at him & remember who you are arguing with, is it worth it to be right? No! Its worth it to remember you two ARE.ON.THE.SAME.TEAM! 🙂
& Last but not least if you cannot remember what you are arguing about or you know its not even argue worthy, why are you still doing it? (Start saying that code word!) lol
Hope this helps! 🙂
Post # 14
@Sweet.Sugar.Rose: THIS! Think of yourselves as a team so you’ll be less inclined to try to “win” an argument.
Oh, and a tip for picking your code word/phrase? Think back to something in your relationship that makes you giggle. Ours? Chubby bunny. When we were very first dating, I made dinner and brought wine. I am a big wine drinker. Mr. Grizz is, umm, not. He got the bright idea that we should play the game Chubby Bunny where you stuff as many marshmallows as possible into your mouth and still try to say “Chubby Bunny”. Makes me laugh hysterically to think of him tipsy with a half a bag of marshmallows in his mouth, so that code phrase works.
Also – give it time! It takes a while to change habits. And a marriage advice quote for you courtesy of Kevin Bacon – “Keep the fights clean and the sex dirty.”
Post # 15
We actually use what we learned during pre-martial counseling sessions. It’s the prepare enrich program. There’s active listening (which although ridiculous, really does help) and the 10 steps to conflict resolution. It took a little getting used to but we tend not to argue nearly as mean as we used to.