One of the hardest situations I hate in a marriage is when I argue with my wife. Because arguing can tear your relationship into pieces and you seems can never avoid argument. We argued for many things, some are important matters, but some are small things. Actually, ninety percent of arguments in a marriage are non-sense.
So if ninety percent of arguments are non-sense and we can’t avoid, we must find a way to minimize the negative impact from it. Over the past years of my marriage I have learned a “secret” about how we can minimize the negative influence from our arguments.
The secret is what John Gottman called “repair attempt”, I also see this technique mentioned as “breaking the patterns” by Anthony Robbins. When a couple has been together for long enough, both spouses will have some habitual behaviors and thoughts to respond another one’s certain behaviors. When conflicts arise, you are unconsciously falling into the habitual behaviors you have. If you use to be harsh when you talk about issues, you’re mostly likely to start harsh when there is conflict.
So the key is to break your old pattern or change your habitual behaviors. However, it’s not easy to notice you’re falling into your old patterns until the tension arise. What you can do is break your patterns by some silly and funny facial expressions that use to make you both laugh. A silly action during the fight is much more efficient that “I’m sorry.” after the fight.
I use to have two extreme attitudes when I was in a conflict with my wife. I either speak up to argue with her till the end or just keep silence. Both attitudes didn’t solve any conflicts at all. Fortunately, that was just the past and we both have learned from ourselves and others how to solve conflicts. Now if any of us noticing there is tone raising or tension during our conversation, we’ll apply this technique. With this technique, we have avoided many unnecessary fights.
What is the psychological logic behind this technique? I can see the point of breaking your old behaviors when you’re in a conflict with your spouse, but I still don’t fully understand why a silly or funny action can make it happen. Anyway, when my wife does a silly childish dance during the fight, I feel like she is telling me “OK, dear, can we stop arguing because it makes both of us feel bad and I’m sorry if there is mistake I made.”
Sometimes, it’s not that important to find out who is right and who is wrong. It’s much more important to stay happy. If there is issue you think you need to talk to your partner, you can wait until you both are calm and relax. I find it’s much easier to talk to my wife about issues when we are both calm and relax.