HAVING A ROW WITH YOUR PARTNER
by Claire Halsey
Why do you row?
You've probably had rows with all sorts of people, from your own parents to
workmates and friends. Perhaps you've wondered afterwards whether it did any
good or not. You might have used a blow-up to let off steam or as a way to force
a change when calm discussion didn't work.
You may have noticed that rows are better for letting go of tension than for
solving problems, because high emotions can get in the way of finding answers.
In the long run, arguing may have a damaging effect on your relationship, and on
your whole family.
During a typical blow-up, do you:
- build up resentment and tension all day over some repeated irritating
habit of your partner?
- start on the issue as soon as you're both through the door?
- quickly bring up past offences, however small and trivial?
- make it personal, moving from complaining about the issue at hand to your
partner's general character failings?
- avoid any sort of solution or compromise?
- forget what you are arguing about?
- If so, you need to work on making your rows less destructive.
Make your rows more useful
First, make some rowing ground rules in advance, at a time when you're both
feeling calm. For example, agree to:
- Row about things you can change
- Pay attention when one of you asks
for a change. Do something about it before strong feelings get in the way
- Stick to the current problem. Don't
waste valuable time and energy on the past, which cannot be changed and may
confuse today's issue
- Keep your language respectful.
Swearing and using put-downs may give you quick feelings of satisfaction but
can cause lasting damage to your relationship
- Avoid rowing late at night or in the
early hours of the morning. At these times all issues seem more serious and
being tired can get in the way of good sense
- Agree to disagree. Sometimes there
will be subject you can't agree on. Understand and enjoy these differences
- Work hard to make up after a row.
Remind yourselves of the love you feel for each other and your family
- Find more enjoyable ways to let off steam together. Physical exercise,
even a brisk walk together, can release tension. Laugh out loud together,
share jokes and hilarious anecdotes from the past and watch funny videos or
movies to release your feelings. Be playful. All these ideas release tension
and can be much more fun than a row.
Avoiding an argument
If you feel you're about to blow up, stop and think about what you want to get
out of it before strong feelings take over. Sometimes you can get what you want
from a row without ever having to go through the argument itself.
Is there a solution you can suggest that will satisfy you both? Or do you just
want to let off steam after a long day? If so, there may be a more enjoyable way
to do this. If you're hoping for the enjoyment of making up afterwards, consider
whether you could get close without the argument in between.
Most importantly of all, bear in mind that your children will see and hear your
rows, and might try to solve their problems the same way. Remember, you are
their most important teachers, and have more influence on them than anyone else.
Your children learn from you how to treat each other and solve problems. When
you act with respect and find solutions through compromise and consideration,
you're teaching them lessons which will help and sustain them throughout their
Did you know?
When parents argue without resolving the issue causing the problem, their sons
can become more aggressive and their daughters less confident and more
Explaining to children what's happening in arguments and how to solve them is
suggested as a way to avoid these effects