Arguments are part of life. No matter who you are there is no way of avoiding them sooner, or later conflict is going to occur. How we handle them has often been modeled to us by our parents as we grow up. A lot of people deal with conflict in ways that are not healthy, or good for either person. Some resort to knock down, drag out, cutting remarks that are meant to hurt the other person. Often it is to try and regain our pride and feel better about our selves. They hurt your pride and took a piece of you, now you’re trying to save face and take it back. Three really helpful rules for dealing with an argument are:
1. Diffuse The Situation Quickly.
Diffuse the situation and resolve it as quickly as possible before it escalates. In my relationship we firmly follow the scripture example of not staying angry, or going to bed still mad, we talk it out, and forgive, before going to bed. It is not negotiable we expect it of each other, I refuse to wake up angry and begin another day that way.
Eph 4:26-27 “In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.”
2. Stick To The Issue.
Stick to the issue at hand and deal specifically with that problem only. Resist the urge to bring up old problems, and compound them in, with the new ones. In counselling, I used to call it P.H.D. Piling the baggage Higher, and Deeper. Bringing up and throwing the past wrongs into a persons face only makes the problem bigger and is never helpful.
3. Do Not Retaliate, instead hesitate.
Do not resort to retaliating, lashing out, or using cutting remarks. Once that venomous bite has been done it is very hard to repair. The damage is done, and once bitten twice shy. You have hurt them in the hopes of regaining your personal power back because they hurt you. Instead purposely hesitate, take a minute to think before you speak.
4. Seek to confront and resolve immediately.
To resolve the argument address it immediately before it can grow bigger and escalate. Be the peacemaker right in the beginning. That requires humility but it is well worth it. Be honest and share with the person what they did wrong. Do not use language that is guaranteed to make them defensive, for example instead of saying something like WHY? or YOU DID THIS, tone it down, and try saying something like WHEN THAT HAPPENED IT BOTHERED ME, CAN WE TALK ABOUT IT, OR HOW CAN WE CHANGE THIS?
5. Forgive the person, or at least be willing to try to forgive.
Even if you don’t feel it from the heart at the time say the words, “I forgive you.” Fake it until you feel it, and let it go. Remember if you want God to forgive you, you have to forgive others, or God will not forgive you. That does not mean you put yourself in harm’s way, or return to a violent partner, it means you forgive from the heart and let go of the anger so you then become free to heal.
This video has some great examples of how this all works together.