No, your girlfriend doesn’t need to know how disgusted you are with her at this moment. However, this doesn’t mean you should front or sugar-coat your feelings. Do think before you talk, and tread lightly. Keep it real, and consider the feelings of your other half before you even go there.
Don’t play the blame game. The only bigger energy sucker during an argument than screaming at the top of your lungs is laying blame. Assigning fault elevates tempers and puts your partner on the defensive. When it comes to pointing the finger, Tessina says, “Arguing isn’t about whose right or wrong. It’s supposed to be about what’s going to fix the problem.”
Don’t be a verbal bully. Forget the old saying, “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” That’s playground stuff, and the playground is about the only place the saying still has any meaning. Everyone knows that hurling verbal daggers at your partner during a fight will get you nowhere (except maybe out in the street with your bags packed). Not only is cussing and name-calling during a fight childish, it’s also unproductive. And remember, words can’t be taken back.
Don’t be a lawyer. Tessina calls people who talk down to their partners in the heat of confrontation “lawyers” because “they try to prove their case as though there’s an invisible jury watching.” Looking down your nose at your lover and acting as if you are infallible is little more than a power trip. Avoid speaking like an authority figure; you’ll have better luck being heard.
Fight Like a Champ
Now that you know what not to do, here are a few strategies for arguing without losing your cool (and possibly losing your partner):
Listen up. Hearing what your partner has to say is half the battle. Think outside of the box -- listening isn’t just about hearing. Use all of your senses, and watch your partner’s body language. If he’s crossing his arms across his chest like protective armor, that should tell you something. Also, reassure your partner that you are listening by saying things like, “If I heard you correctly, you said … ” and “What you are saying is this, right?” The benefits are twofold: Your partner feels heard and also gets the opportunity to set the record straight if you didn’t hear him or her correctly.