Agreeing to disagree is easier said than done. When your “match,” takes exception to your views, it’s easy to feel like they’re invalidating you, which can feel offensive. And often when we feel offended, we summon all of our mental energy to defend ourselves and, well, argue.
When certain situations oblige you to confront your differences, being able to accept each other’s contrasting opinions is critical to the health of your relationship and an affirmation of a pretty solid rapport.
So in tense times, here’s how to practice respect for your partner by understanding their thoughts, even if you don’t necessarily accept them as your own.
If your relationship were without disagreements, it’d be without challenges—how boring.
1. Define the disagreement. When tensions are high and adrenaline is flowing, communication can easily become muddled. It’s probably helpful to first clearly identify what the issue is before you spend a whole day beating more dead horses than necessary.
2. Respect that they’re entitled to their own opinions. The goal of hashing it out is not to “win,” because if you feel like someone has won, you both lose when your relationship goes to shit. Understand that just because you’re a couple doesn’t mean that you have to share identical ideologies, and appreciate that your differences more than likely complement one another. If your relationship were without disagreements, it’d be without challenges—how boring.
3. Listen. What a cliché this one is, but it’s important that you don’t have selective hearing when you’re in a potentially heated conversation. Selective hearing in an argument is like diagnosing yourself with every ailment on WebMD—you can choose to understand something wholly, or you can choose to hear one thing and implode. If nothing else, do it for your own sanity.
4. Respond, don’t react. Sure silent breaks are a bit awkward, but it’s far better to fill a space with silence than it is to say something you’ll inevitably regret. Hear what your partner has to say, process what they’ve said, think on it and respond wisely with constructive critiques, not demeaning put-downs.
5. Use “I” over “you.” When you address an issue as making you feel a certain way, you’re asking your partner to consider those feelings. When you tell your partner that they are making you feel a certain way, it may be heard as an attack or blame, which is harder to digest. Instead of saying, “You are being a [insert overused insult here],” say, “I feel hurt by [that stupid thing you said/did.]” So you’re not necessarily blaming them, you’re just capitalizing on their guilt…