4 Simple Words to End Pesky Arguments pt. 2

Geoffrey Bullock, marriage counselor with Asheville Marriage Counseling, continues discussing how four simple words can help you avoid bickering arguments in your marriage.

Covered in part 2: Some tips for getting the best result from this method for avoiding arguments in your marriage. Also, how allowing these small arguments to continue can put your marriage at risk.

- Asheville Marriage Counseling Length: 06:11
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Reducing Pesky Arguments in Your Marriage Pt. 2

(Click here for part 1)

So, this is a fairly simple and straight forward approach to reducing pesky arguments – annoying arguments in your marriage. Does that mean that it will work magically… that it’s going to be easy to implement… work the first time… or work every time?

Probably not.

We’re talking about doing something that’s changing a pattern in your marriage and very likely changing a mindset for yourself. So, the first part is recognizing that it may take some practice, for you, to get to the point of really being okay with saying “you might be right”, when that’s not really what you’re feeling inside.

This is harder for some folks than others, because we kind of have this sense of justice and fairness. And it can feel, if we’re saying “you might be right” like somehow we’re betraying our own integrity, because since we really don’t think they’re right.

So the mindset shift is: it’s not about right or wrong on this small piddly issue, my priority is helping my marriage to work as best as it possibly can. And on small issues, being right or wrong is not more important than that.

Here’s another potential trap as you try to use this in your marriage. It’s very possible that you would say “you might be right” and you’re going to get a response something like, “well yeah! Of course I’m right!” and they lay on a couple more arguments to prove their point. They’re in the win/lose mode of the pattern and you’ve just shifted the pattern. So it’s not unusual if they would play out their script a couple more times.

This is a dangerous place, because if you’re not prepared for it – is easy to get triggered emotionally again and reengage in that argument. It’s like, “I’ve just extended an olive branch… and I just got slapped for it… so I’m back in”!

What is more useful at that time is to be prepared with a couple of benign responses. Things like “well yeah, I understand how you feel that way” or “yes, I know what you mean and you might be right”.

Here the other caveat. I mentioned that this process has three steps with a little caveat. The three steps being 1) recognizing that you’re on your on-ramp 2) ask yourself how important is this issue really, compared to harmony in my relationship? 3) and then third using the four simple words.

The caveat is you have to do this and you have to use it BEFORE you feel like you need it.

Now this is a little tricky. But basically what I’m saying is this tends to only work if you use it on the on-ramp, during that time when you’re still thinking fairly clearly and you having gotten tunnel vision locked in… and you haven’t gotten your sense of being threatened engaged.
That’s when you can most likely say “you may be right” and have the clarity that this is not more important than the marriage. Once you’re across that threshold it becomes much more difficult to do.

Now if you can, I would encourage you to do so. But using it during the on-ramp is the time when there’s the least amount of intensity and the least momentum already heading toward the argument.

So it means choosing ‘my marriage is more important than being right on this issue’ before you feel like you’re getting to an argument. Once you’re at the edge.. you’ll probably going to cross the edge.

One last important point that I do want to make is we’re talking not only about using this with arguments that are not substantive to your marriage… the little piddly ones. But, also for managing those when they are occurring like happens for most couples. You know, periodically. Maybe there’s a week or so when we’re annoyed or we’re stressed and we have a less tolerance with each other.

However, if you find yourself in a situation where the small arguments are occurring more and more frequently, or their taking on more intensity, or getting into bigger arguments, or they’re lasting longer, or even the effect – the aftereffect of having these arguments is lasting longer; please treat that as a warning sign.

In my experience when couples start having more frequent small arguments it’s almost always an indication that there is something more substantial, that is more important and can be threatening to the marriage, that is causing them disconnection. And these small arguments are sort of a substitute for the energy of frustration and annoyance that’s laying on those bigger issues.

That’s a time to get some assistance (like marriage counseling) as quickly as you can to find out what is going on in the underlying issues that is causing the more frequent snippy – sniping, bickering kinds of arguments.

The other thing that’s important about addressing this quickly, is it does not take long before having frequent small level arguments can start to take on an energy of its own. And that the disconnection that’s occurring from the frequency of the arguments can become a wedge that drives the couple further and further apart.

Because you’re not only loading up on negative disconnecting experiences from the arguments, but you’re also decreasing the amount of time and opportunities for connecting, because of being annoyed with each other so frequently.

That’s something that can snowball very, very, quickly.

So I would encourage you (if that’s happening) to get some assistance. If you want to do that with me, you’re welcome to a free consultation at Asheville Marriage Counseling. But don’t ignore that, and get some assistance somewhere and relatively quickly.

So, I hope that this video has been useful to you and has given you some ideas of ways of avoiding the small arguments in your marriage. Be prepared that it does take a little practice and some patience, but I think if you apply this approach you’ll find that you can avoid a lot of disruptive arguments and have more harmony and happiness in your marriage or relationship.

Presenter: Geoffrey Bullock, Marriage Counselor at Asheville Marriage Counseling

[End Transcript]

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