The holidays are a time of relaxation, we can all agree on that. If you spend too many quiet hours with your partner or have many busy days you might notice something.
That something is called small disagreements.
Are you with me?
Our petty arguments can go something like this:
Person A: Did you see my pack chicken, I specifically kept for myself?
Person B: Yes, I ate it [non-chalant tone.]
Person A: What? Why? I was saving it for myself, after all you ate yours already (steam coming out of my ears at this point).
It may sound like such a small thing, but…
– when it’s the tenth petty argument in the last two hours,
– when you’re thinking ‘I’ve actually just done this and that for you now and this is how you repay me’,
– when you had expectations that this weekend/occasion was going to be magical, etc…
Basically, it may not seem like such a small thing, in that particular moment.
So, here’s what I reach for during these ‘squabbles’:
1. I find that for reconciliation to happen , both parties must want to get the issue resolved.
Otherwise, one person will be left frustrated and angrier that they were initially.
If your partner still needs some time to ‘cool down’, they may retreat, or you may just sense they need time – give them that time. That should be a few hours though, and hopefully not days, because leaving it so long, in my experience, just makes the whole drama drag out and last longer.
2. You really can’t think about and bring up, at that particular moment, everything bad that your partner has done.
It will make you more annoyed and you won’t be able to reach a resolution because at that point, you will just want to ‘draw’ blood.
3. The reconciliation-killer words cannot be used: ‘you always’, ‘you never’, ‘why can’t you’,’you can’t’, ‘how dare you’, ‘divorce/break up/break’, ‘I’ve had enough’. Any words or phrases that you know will act as a trigger and make your partner reach boiling point is banned.
This is easier said than done. I usually try talking slowly and picking my words carefully. If I think of the trigger words, I can pause and take the time to choose a less ‘loaded’ one.
4.I read this somewhere and it literarily changed my life: believe that your partner’s intentions are good.
Give them the benefit of doubt. It can prevent arguments and stem the hurt from their wrong doings. It’s also known as trying to see things from their perspective, but goes one step further by adding the positivity element.
5. Find the truth of the situation – read between the lines. Sometimes if you take a step back, you can piece together what the real issue is. That could be what your partner appears to be reacting to or what your partner may be feeling about you at that point. If you can spot that, it should help you be more sensitive to their side of the story, or change how you approach seeking a resolution.
6. One of the tips the Priest who married Mr and I gave us was about being ‘charitable’ to each other. He is an older clergy man, but very relatable. Typically I think of ‘charity’ as the giving to those in need, so when he shared about being charitable to each other, I initially thought, ‘thats an unusual one’. Well, thats not what he meant. The definition of charity he was talking about – is ‘kindness in judging others’ per the oxford dictionary. It is about trying really hard to be kind about Mr’s imperfections, since, I want him to do the same about my imperfections, too. To look at another person’s perceived flaws/failings and try to see the good, is no easy feat, and I do not succeed all the time. But this is one of the best pieces of advice I’ve been given about marriage.
7. I sometimes just break into a silly joke. For example, I jokily remind Mr that we have sixty plus more years of marriage to go and we’re going to keep annoying each other, so we both better start getting used to the little annoyances. I’m not sure if this grates on his nerves even more, though. LOL.
8. I read somewhere online that a couple could try stopping in the middle of the argument to hold each other and say I love you. This has only worked for us, maybe twice. To be honest, it’s the furthest thought from my mind during squabbles. I like the premise – it’s about reminding each other, quite lovingly, that even through the bickering, and grievances you’re still my person. More realistically, there have been times we smiled at each other halfway through an argument. Honestly, I usually think Mr is shaking his head and smiling while thinking ‘this woman’ lol. But, in any case, the smile really lightens the mood.
No secret magical formula, just some tools that we try to use. I wrote this in January 2015 and I feel like the number of petty arguments we have has reduced significantly thanks to time. Of course we are still work-in-progress.
Alright, over to you. What do you do to keep your cool during petty/small arguments? What has been your experience – do you find that as the years go by in your relationship or marriage, you have fewer of those small arguments? Did anyone give you advice about relationships or marriage that you thought was golden – what was it? I would love to hear.