GerryNorth-e134260212466111111111Research findings by well-known couple’s therapist John Gottman concluded that couples who argue are more likely to stay together than ones that don’t. Passively shoving personal resentments under the carpet means something bigger and nastier will appear in the future. Because we all see the world differently we all have different perspectives about personal trespasses – matters we feel are unfair.

Maybe the partner never feeds the dog, never does any shopping, stays out very late with friends, drinks too much or whatever. If there are problems then having a decent argument will clear the air, reduce resentments and prevent nastier things happening later. Then there is always the possibility of make-up sex as a reward.

What is a decent argument you might ask? There are rules about arguing decently. They are very simple rules but harder than you would think to achieve. I know this from personal experience.

Number one rule is the argument that starts loud gets louder so stay calm when discussing the issue/s. Once your blood pressure rises the brain goes weird and you end up in awful situations where no one is listening. Then, really hurtful and stupid things are said and there is really no point in continuing.

Rule number two is if the argument is out of control put up your hand and ask for “Time Out”. This means going for a walk, the movies or doing something else and then coming back later to discuss the problem.

Rule number three is, listen. Let the other person get it all out and even ask if there is any more to say. Let the person know you are listening by saying, “What I heard you say was… blah, blah, blah.” Then use “I” statements yourself. “I really need some help with feeding the dog and doing the shopping as I feel used when I do it all the time.

Number four rule is, try to resolve the argument in some way. This could be with a negotiated agreement. An agreement – to disagree maybe? A hug or a wink will do wonders. Sex is even better.

With any argument there are four possible outcomes: speak up and change nothing, change what is upsetting, negotiate what can be negotiated or just stay angry, bitter, resentful and become an evil bitch with revenge in mind. Ah no, an awful idea!

Having a decent argument can clear the air and actually improve your relationship. You can use these same principles with your lover, your friends, your family or your boss. Follow these simple and yet demanding rules: stay calm, consider time out, listen, use “I statements (not You, You, You ones) and try to resolve the issue/s in some way even if it means agreeing to disagree. Hopefully if it is your lover, sex will follow. Go on have a decent argument!

Gerry North is a gay couples counsellor and also treats depression and anxiety.
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