This is probably one of the hardest things to do in any relationship, romantic or otherwise. It is difficult to gain control once tensions escalate. Emotions are running wild, chemical levels in your body are all over the place, thoughts going through your mind are not likely as clear as you think they are. Ego steps in. Or maybe it is pride. You either end up on the defensive or you decide to retaliate before you have had a chance to think things through. You want to strike back and you even get that feeling like what you are about to say is going to put them in their place and establish your dominion in the land of “I am right.”
It might momentarily feel right, but that is only in the moment. Let me tell you something about the land of “I am right.” It is also the land of the alone. The land of isolation. The land where all of the inconsiderate jerks reside. The land of the one not getting anywhere in that relationship. Potentially, even the land of “This relationship is over.” Arguing without any kind of calm or control is a great way to get the person you are arguing with to resent or despise you. If that is where you want to be or where you feel comfortable, then, by all means, fire those opinions away. Maybe you are right, but ask yourself what the cost will be.
The satisfaction you will get from being right is momentary. The damage to the relationship is long term. My recommendation, walk away, tactfully, and cool off. Not only does it help you collect your thoughts, but it also allows you to approach the situation in a much calmer and more collected mind. It becomes a conversation, rather than an argument. This will benefit everyone involved. Arguments tend to have a winner and a loser. No matter who wins, everyone involved loses something. Conversations, on the other hand, can be won by both.
I am not saying that it is a conversation that needs to be, or should be, avoided. Quite the contrary. If it gets to the point where emotions are starting to come out in a negative way, it is most definitely a conversation that needs to take place. That doesn’t mean it has to take place at that moment. There probably isn’t a worse moment you could try communicating about the problem. Tell them that you need to step away and tell them why. You would be surprised at the results. The heat begins to cool immediately. Let them know that this needs to be discussed but not right then.
If you need to leave the room, do it. If you need to do something that helps you to take a step back and cool off, do it. For me, I found that folding laundry or doing the dishes was a great way to temporarily focus on something else while also not separating from the issue entirely. It is a chance to think about things and re-address them in a way that is easier for everyone to digest. There were plenty of times where, right or wrong, I realized that the tension wasn’t necessary in the first place. A lot of the times, arguments end up being the result of nothing more than a misunderstanding.
Like anything, this is not a guarantee that everything will be OK. Walking away shows a level of emotional maturity where words can’t. It demonstrates that you care enough about them and the issue to want to take a step back and put some real thought into the matter. Once emotions and tempers ease, it is much easier to re-approach the situation and have a productive conversation. Problems are so much easier to solve when you work together on them. Working together can be difficult when the only communication taking place is at a volume and in a manner that is difficult to understand.
This also doesn’t mean to turn your back on the other person. Running and hiding from a conversation can be equally deadly to the relationship. There is no time limit, but it needs to be clear to both parties that it is something neither is avoiding. Be patient and take your time, but don’t take too much time. Failure to come back to the issue only puts off the problem until the next time it comes up. And then what? You are right back where you started. Don’t run. Pause. Breath. Take a moment or two and consider what is happening and what is at stake.
- Walk away tactfully.
- Working on an issue is difficult when tensions are high.
- Everyone loses something in an argument.
- Don’t ignore the issue indefinitely.
- Consider what is at stake.