People Who Argue Like This Are More Likely to Stay Together, Says Science
When you've been with your SO for a while, you come to learn that fighting in and of itself is not an issue (because, well, it's inevitable), but that there are good and bad ways to argue. That said, fighting fair is easier said than done. Even if you start with the intention of keeping your cool, once the passion kicks in you can almost guarantee a raised voice, tears, the slamming of doors and a post-fight bowl of ice-cream. (Just me?)
The truth is, learning to argue like a well-adjusted adult requires practice. So, to learn how to problem solve everything from who takes the trash out, to overzealous spending habits, we chatted to clinical psychologist, Gemille Cribb from Equilibrium Psychology.
Cribb says there's lots of research on this topic, and cited a few experts in particular: "John and Julie Gottman have studied [fighting fairly] extensively and come up with what they call the 'Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse'." According to Cribb, these four communication habits can accurately predict relationship failure. They also form the basis of the expert's dos and don'ts when tackling tough issues in your relationship.
See below for Cribb's key tips, then shop our favourite relationship reads.
Criticise: "Try to stay away from attacking the other person's character."
Be Disrespectful: "Mocking someone or using sarcasm isn't helpful. Ridiculing, including name-calling and smaller actions like eye-rolling, also aren't productive if you wanting to change something."
Stonewall: "Try your best not to withdraw and shut down by becoming unresponsive to your partner."
Be Defensive: "Try your hardest not to make excuses and give explanations when you feel unfairly accused."
Say "I": "Couples who fight fair will raise their point without blame, using 'I' statements such as, 'I felt very unheard when you…'"
Accept Responsibility: "Healthy couples will accept at least partial responsibility for the issue rather than go into defensiveness and accept no part of the issue."
Validate Feelings: "Strong partnerships will often validate their partner's feelings to show they are listening and understand, and that they appreciate their partners and treat them with respect, rather than contempt."
Take Time Out: "If they feel overwhelmed they will ask for some time out to calm themselves rather than stonewalling or insulting one another."