I remember one guy I was involved with. By involved, I mean I liked him, and I felt he liked me too. Back then, we would spend hours chatting on Whatsapp. It seemed like something romantic and wonderful was in the making. The only problem was that our conversations seemed to give me headaches. Omo! after a while, I realized most of our talk were really just inanities; pointless arguments. One time he brought up something Kanye West said or did, insisting that such was the true way of doing things. Before I knew what was happening, another argument. Sis. I had to stop and ask myself if I was really arguing because of Kanye West or Rihanna. It’s not even that I wanted the argument, it was that he would say one thing, I’d have a different opinion, next thing it was thunder, fire and brimstone. #Whew.
The truth is that there are many people who get off on arguments, as in, they simply derive some kind of energy from being so combative. However, as you can imagine, this is not the most endearing trait in a partner. As a matter of fact, it should be a red flag to be with someone who does not have enough emotional intelligence to know when to gauge your feelings and draw the lines. Still, I understand that in any relationship between two intelligent people, arguments are inescapable. We have our opinions and often, they will not align. So, what next? How can you have a conversation without feeling completely exhausted and resentful of your partner? Here are a few tips.
Understand the stakes.
Not every fight is necessary, when you understand this, you will have peace. It’s one thing to debate America’s involvement with the Gulf War or Nigeria’s handling of Boko-haram, but arguing over peanut butter, or something that has no consequential tangent is a complete waste of time. If you are going to argue over who left the microwave door open, or who sings better, then ask yourself if the answer really matters.
Assess the value of the conversation.
Does it have any bearing on your relationship? For instance, it may be worthwhile to argue/discuss over what color to paint the nursery, or how much should go into your home mortgage. But there are certain things, say, tax regulation, that you have no power to control simply by arguing. If the topic is not something you can both concede over, then maybe you should not bother in the first place, unless it is a subject that reveals the character of your partner, in which case, a discussion paints a picture of the kind of partner you already have.
Understand what the other person is saying.
You don’t have to agree, in fact, alignment should never be the goal in your conversations. However, it is your job to listen closely to what they say and to acknowledge their subject position. One of the reasons arguments quickly escalate is because parties feel that they are being dismissed, that they are not being heard. This is why people would argue to the bones over flimsy issues, because it feels personal. So, a little more empathy will go a long way to help you see things how your partner sees them, even if you don’t agree.
Have you ever handled an unnecessary argument with a friend or lover? How did you handle it? Please share your comments. We’d love to hear from you.