Talk Yourself Out of a Row

Welcome to my blog page. Here you will find a selection of short articles about a wide range of issues that might be helpful to people coming to individual counselling; couples counselling and couples and same sex relations; couples and intimacy; families; sex and porn addiction; counselling for partners of sex addicts and couples counselling and sex addiction.
Some of the articles might include useful tips, referenced extracts from books, news items and other articles that might be of interest and help to my client group,
The first article is:

Talk Yourself out of a Row and Rules for Fair Rows

And each month I will add to my blog
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Talk Yourself Out of a Row
Often newspapers articles, magazines, social media rush to tell us the secrets of successful couples. In reading the blurb we might say – yeah dream on you don’t live my life, or, if only we could be one of those couples! So, is it all a dream or is it possible?
Let’s take a look at what these successful couples do.
Generally successful couples can assert what’s important to them. They can also decide whether a row is worth having and if so, ‘stand their ground whilst maintaining perspective’. They can also ask themselves “Is what I am about to say helpful?” If it’s not then why say it?
Successful couples know it’s not about one winning or one conceding. They can recognise how the other is feeling as well as hold onto their own feelings. They can juggle both sets of feelings at the same time and know when one feels more strongly than the other. Importantly they can take responsibility for how they feel and manage it.
With a deep breath, a little thought and a sense of goodwill anything is possible. Talking yourself out of a row maybe easier than you think?
TALKING to one another is the heart of a successful relationship but how often do we take this for granted and lose the art of meaningful communication?
As time goes by and we become so used to each other we stop talking about our feelings and thoughts. In our busy lives we tend to talk about practical things like what’s for tea and who’s paying the bills.
When couples avoid talking about their feelings, they begin to disconnect and disconnection becomes a rich breeding ground for rows.
A similar disconnect that happens is when people describe themselves as ‘private’ or ‘I just bottle things up’. This can be an excuse for avoiding telling the other how they are feeling convincing themselves that’s its better than confrontation, but, the very thing they wanted to avoid happens as this strategy is more likely to lead to more disconnect and then rows explosive rows.


So how do successful couples actually talk themselves out of a row?

  1. Make time for a 5-minute check-in to talk to your partner about your feelings. This will get you into the habit of talking and listening. You can agree the ground rules first of a couples of minutes each for each person to talk and the other to listen. Quick summary, check for clarification and then it’s the other ones turn. You try your best not to interrupt or prepare your answer before the other has finished.
  2. LISTEN - people think they are listening but they actually aren’t. Listening is focusing on what the other is saying and not the words that you forming in your head – even when you don’t want to hear it!
  3. You need to let your partner know you are listening by keeping eye contact.
  4. Then see if you can summarise back to them what you have heard. This conveys a sense of worth. Your partner is important enough for you to focus, concentrate and want to understand. This is worth its weight in gold!
  5. Interrupting your partner will convey the opposite – giving the message that what you have to say is more important in than what they are saying. You need to give some time to really get what the other is saying.
  6. Communication is a two-way thing so there needs to be equal turn taking even if the other finds talking about their feelings more difficult – vulnerability needs respect.
  7. If you find your body starts to tighten and your tone of voice escalates – BREATHE.
  8. Try using ‘I’ words and not ‘You’ words. Take responsibility for your feelings. It’s not “you make me unhappy” say “I am unhappy with our relationship”.
  9. Also, it is helpful to give compliments and tell you partner what would make you happy and how you would like things to be.
  10. Finally, talk about the issues as they arise instead of bottling up your feelings. Keep the lines of communication open and try to aim for as much understanding as you can - that way you might talk yourself out of a row.


Rules for Fair Rows

Having a fair row involves:

  • Being assertive rather than aggressive
  • Not bringing up grievances form the past
  • Staying with the specific (positive and negative)
  • Using “I” statements – avoiding judging the other
  • Being honest and sensitive
  • Not arguing about detail
    ……You were an hour late!
    ……No, I wasn’t, it was only 10 minutes!
  • Not blaming the other
  • Actively listening and obtaining the other’s agreement about what you heard them saying before responding
  • Tackling only one issue at a time
  • Hanging on in there (unless you are being abused) – aiming for a solution rather than being RIGHT

Finally – remember it is OK to take time out – so long as you come back to resolve the issue