After posting Vishnu’s interview the other day and reading all the comments, I thought to myself, “Wow, the people who read my blog must think that I think I have the perfect marriage.” And while I love Vishnu, I’ll be the first to admit that our marriage is not perfect. It’s not always lovey dovey over here. We argue and get on each other’s nerves every now and then. It happens. And guess what…it’s normal! However, the thing I’ve learned and am continuing to learn is how to argue in a respectful way that allows me to get my point across while allowing Vishnu to do the same.
Allow me to share an example of how we used to argue. A couple of years ago when I lived in Tucson, Vishnu came to visit. One day, I came home from work and immediately went into the kitchen to make dinner because I had invited a friend over to eat. That’s when it started. I was stressed out because there were dishes to be washed and food to be made. Vishnu tried to help by washing the dishes. Well, let’s just say he was doing it all wrong (he really was but that’s a different story for a different day!), so I put down what I was doing and rewashed everything. We started arguing about that. Then while making dinner, I kept looking over Vishnu’s shoulder as he made the salad. We started arguing again. One thing led to another, and pretty soon we were yelling at each other about random things. Not good…not good at all.
Things have changed since then. While we’ve only been married a little over six months, I think we’ve learned some major lessons over the course of our entire relationship about the best ways to argue. And note, I’m not talking about how not to argue because let’s be honest, arguments are healthy when executed properly.
So although I’m not a marriage/relationship expert by any means, I do find that when I keep the following things in mind while arguing, it’s a lot less painful.
While it may be the last thing on your mind, always remember that you are with this person for a very important reason. You love them. And it may not seem like it at the time, but you love them a lot.
If you’re upset about something, say so! If your significant other asks you what’s wrong, tell him/her! By keeping your feelings bottled up, you’re only going to make things worse. Trust me on this one! It’s ok to take time to process your thoughts before speaking, but once you’ve done so, speak! Relationships grow when people communicate…both the good and the bad.
“Always” or “Never”
In the heat of an argument, it’s so easy to say, “You always do xyz” or “You never do xyz.” Let me tell you, there is no better way to put someone on the defense than by using these two words. Also, these words imply that someone behaves in a certain way 100% of the time, and we know that’s just not possible. Just don’t go there!
Don’t bring up the past. Nothing can be done to change it. Focus on the present issue. While it may feel good to validate your current point with past examples, you’re only asking for trouble. And remember, no one is perfect, therefore it’s likely you have also done things in the past that weren’t so great. This one will come back to bite you in the ass!
This one is important, especially when trying to move forward. Laughter is comforting and can really turn an argument into a learning experience. And really, who doesn’t like to laugh!?
Now when Vishnu and I argue, we try to stick to the issue on hand, respect the other’s opinions, and hash it out right then and there. This doesn’t always work, but hey, at least we’re trying!
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, marriage is a challenge. And although I try to keep these things in mind when upset, it’s not easy by any means. But remember, perfection is not the goal. The goal is to grow, learn, and love together.