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The Anatomy of An Argument

Fighting More Effectively in Your Relationship

As a woman, the only time I’ve ever heard a man say to me, “We need to talk about this,” has been when I had a male boss asking me to come into his office for some pow-wow time over an activity I did right or wrong.  From my personal backstory, I have a tendency to assume that my boss wanted to point out something I did wrong. Never did I believe for a moment that he wished to unload his  fears or share his concerns about the stress of his role or his emotional mindset. “No news is good news” was applied truth, and I became familiar with the world of wishing to hear nothing at all versus cringing over the fear of being reprimanded or embarrassed over my mistakes.

On the other side of that equation, I believe men have heard this statement quite frequently from their partners, and their feelings of shame are magnified times a hundred in comparison to mine. I feel for the man hanging an imaginary tail between his legs as he slinks towards his wife (or his husband) and hears what he perceives to be a long list of his shortcomings, failures, and mistakes. What’s worse is that after that scenario ends, the partner who has just unloaded his or her feelings often says, “I feel better, now that we’ve talked!” while the receiving partner feels like his head and heart just got treated like a garbage disposal. How do you avoid such a situation? My suggestion involves two steps: understand the anatomy of an argument before it blows up, and move the tension towards connecting.

In this blogpost, I’m focusing on the first half: understanding the anatomy of an argument. In the next blogpost, I’ll show you a few effective ways to move your understanding into connecting dialogue when the time is right. Before I get into the anatomy of an argument, let me introduce a rather revolutionary thought.