Every relationship, no matter how crazy in love you are with each other, will at times have arguments. If you are in a relationship and haven’t had a disagreement or at least gotten on each other’s nerves, chances are high that you are still in the honeymoon stage or one/both of you are not being honest about things that are bothering you. Contrary to popular belief, arguing is not always a bad thing. It tests your communication skills and reveals the health of your overall relationship. In fact, arguing the right way can lead to growth in your relationship. On the other hand arguing the wrong way can lead to its demise. After being in a Long Distance Relationship (LDR) for 18 months and having ups and downs throughout it, I’ve learned 5 Golden Rules to abide by when arguing.
Golden Rule #1:Address facts not assumptions
When you’re upset it’s all to easy to get caught up in your emotions and begin to make assumptions about the other person’s intentions, wrongly interpret their actions, and assume why they did what you are upset about. Allow your significant other to address what you are upset about before you assume the worst.
Golden Rule #2: Give space to process and cool down
Sometimes you or your significant other may need space to cool down. Don’t force yourselves to stay on the phone or keep talking about it if your interactions are going to be toxic. There have been times when I knew I needed space but decided to just keep FaceTiming. Nothing fruitful came from our interaction and only put me in a worse mood. At the same time, while you should give space don’t let the time be unlimited. You don’t want to go days without speaking and attempting to reconcile. Try not to let the sun set on your anger (Ephesians 4:26).
Golden Rule #3: Over-communicate
Typical communication is usually under-communicating. Many people tend to not say exactly what they are feeling. BE CLEAR. Be Direct. When you’re in an LDR a lot of communication is lost because you are not in person. Even if you are FaceTiming, you still cannot see their full body language. So much of what we think and feel is expressed non-verbally. That’s why it’s key to over-communicate so what you’re saying and feeling isn’t misinterpreted. Now that my boyfriend and I are intentionally more clear and direct, we have fewer misunderstandings caused by bad Internet connections or mis-read texts. (NEVER try and solve big issues via Text or Email. It’s a total recipe for miscommunication. Even if you have to wait until you can be on the phone again, just wait).
Golden Rule #4: Know your communication styles
Some people, like myself, are external processors. We often think aloud and when trying to reconcile or reach a conclusion we often want to hear the other person’s thoughts and feelings right away as we share ours. However, if you’re an internal processor (like my boyfriend) you tend to speak in thoughtful conclusions after you’ve fully worked out the issue in your mind. I often want an answer or his response immediately, whereas he will need time and space to really think about what he is feeling and then share. We’ve learned to respect the ways in which we communicate differently.
Golden Rule #5: Forgive and Move Forward
This is the most important rule. Even if you and your significant other do not stay together still forgive and move forward. Notice I didn’t say forget, sometimes that’s simply impossible. When I step back and realize how much my Heavenly Father has forgiven me, it makes it easier to forgive others (Isaiah 23: 45-46). Moving forward is a choice. You decide whether or not you will continue to stew in anger and replay the offense in your mind. When arguing/reconciling just keep in mind what Love truly is!
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.