5 Surprising Ways to Have a Healthy & Productive Argument

By Krista

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Last Updated: July 4, 2022

An argument doesn't have to be this negative cloud or an ego battle of who can prove their point better.

In fact, they can present an opportunity for you and your partner to grow—and even bond together (yes, it’s true!).

And here’s the thing: Most therapists won’t say a healthy relationship doesn’t include arguments.

Rather, they will acknowledge that a healthy relationship tends to revolve around how you argue (Hint: it doesn’t include “one-upping” your partner or trying to push your point first).

So, is your bickering getting out of control with your partner?

How can you communicate in a healthy way?

Let’s get down to business.

 

 

Is it Healthy to Have Arguments?

Arguments don’t equate to a bad relationship.

As mentioned above, it’s more about how you handle these disagreements. And at the end of the day, there’s no way two people will ever get along perfectly on each and every point and aspect of life. 

The truth is healthy arguments can actually be quite productive. Yet, before we dig into what this looks like, let’s examine the details of an unhealthy argument.

 

 

What Does an Unhealthy Argument Look Like?

An unhealthy argument usually leaves both parties feeling defeated and unheard.

You both end up defensive or accusing the other. Perhaps there are a lot of “you” statements being thrown around. You end up going in circles, really getting nowhere constructive. 

Some common themes here include:

  • There’s a clear intent to cause pain or hurt the other person with their words of choice.
  • There are accusations.
  • Neither partner is listening to the other.
  • The blame lies on the other person.
  • No one is taking responsibility.
  • Threats.

The list goes on. It may even include aspects of emotional abuse, which is, in no way, acceptable in any relationship.

Related Article: 6 Warning Signs to Know if You Are In A Toxic Relationship

 

 

What is a Healthy Argument?

Learning the right way to have a bickering match with your partner can help you both avoid the inevitable “blowing up” of a situation, and help you both navigate through life’s undeniable challenges. So, how can you do this? Here are a  few argument tips!

 

1. Get Curious.

Why do you keep having the same argument again and again?

  • What is the other person feeling?
  • How are you feeling?

Trying to understand (without accusations!) what went wrong and led to escalation can help you defer from doing so in the future. It can also help you both understand each other better, again, bringing you closer!

Some things you can use here include asking questions to understand. And even asking yourself questions!

Why did you get so mad you had to yell? Figuring these things out are entirely worthwhile, especially if you value the relationship.

 

2. Plan a Time for It.

This might sound silly at first. But hear us out!

Each week, what if you and your partner had a set time to bring up your grievances?

This removes a ton of factors, such as having a huge argument after an exhausting and stressful workday or getting into it when traveling on your vacation. It also helps you both prime your minds for being open and honest with one another. 

This can further help you each gather your thoughts and present them in a considerate and caring way. Sometimes, in the heat of the moment, things don’t always come out or sound as we intend them to. This gives you a buffer!

 

3. Use “Active Listening.”

You may have heard this before. But active listening doesn’t involve you gearing up for your next response. Rather, it’s all about fully taking in and understanding what the other person is saying. 

When having a disagreement, this means not having a response ready. Instead, you listen, then may even paraphrase what the other person said to show your understanding and that you heard them. Asking for clarification if you’re unsure is also ultra-useful here.

 

4. Replace Complaints with Requests.

A healthy argument is all about being constructive rather than destructive.

This means maybe re-phrasing a few ways you go about your disagreements. For instance, instead of complaining to your partner that they never help you with the dishes, it can be more productive to ask them to help you with the dishes (and doing so in a polite and respectful tone!).

 

5. Have a Timeout.

There’s no shame in your emotions getting the best of you.

However, it’s important to recognize when this is happening and remove yourself accordingly. 

Therapists even recommend this tactic when things are getting heated. Here’s what you do: Note your emotions are getting heightened and excuse yourself, giving a set time when you will talk again (such as in half an hour or at a certain time). 

Then, go and write out all the awful things you’re thinking about your partner. This is simply just to get that frustration and anger out. After this stage, then write out what you could’ve done better in the situation (there’s definitely something!).

Lastly, come up with three solutions to the disagreement, which you will present to your partner once you’ve calmed down. (These solutions may even involve you apologizing for your part in the disagreement.)

Related Article: “Green Flags” To Look For When Dating

 

 

Remember, You’re a Team!

Arguments happen. Bickering doesn’t have to. 

Reminding yourself that you’re a team together can help put things in perspective. It’s both of you against the problem; not you against each other. 

While the above will take practice (using compassion with yourself and your partner can help as you navigate through making improvements), it truly can be a game-changer as to whether you stick together or not.

Keep this article in your back pocket for when you and your partner need to refer to the above to ensure your relationship stands the test of time.

Read Next: Healthy, Harmonious Love: 7 Relationship Tools To Keep In Your Pocket

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2 comments on “5 Surprising Ways to Have a Healthy & Productive Argument”

  1. This one really hit home! My relationship has been toxic with these explosive arguments and fights even in front of family/friends. Most of the time I react angrily and offended by what I “assumed” she meant but not actually what she said. I realize a lot of insecurities of me rather feeling stupid or shameful for something I did wrong is what makes me then get defensive, when I should recognize this and deal with it healthfully. Also clarify what she is saying will help so we won’t have a back n forth battle of you you you. And actually identify the problem and work together to solving it. This makes so much sense! I wish I had whoever wrote this contact for questions.

    1. Wow that's such a powerful comment Donte. And you're right, so many of us fail to clarify what someone meant, internalize it and then react without having the full story. And most of the time, it's our reaction to something that bothers us about ourselves, as you say. Good for you to recognize this and try to turn it around. If we allowed more time to safely discuss things with our partners, friends, coworkers, we would be surprised by what they ACTUALLY meant or said. And you can always message us here or on our social accounts!!

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