Arguing in a Relationship: When We’re Too Mad to Listen

Arguing in a relationship: when we're too mad to listen

Arguing in a relationship can be a daily problem for some of us. We have trouble listening when mad. To make things worse, we also have trouble speaking when upset. Let’s look at the feelings that underlie arguing in a relationship and examine how to deal with them.

Arguing in a Relationship Comes From Difficulty Communicating with Hurt Feelings

Arguing in a relationship happens when you're too upset to communicate clearly and peacefully.

I was walking the neighborhood recently with a friend and we passed by a car parked on the street. The windows were down so I could hear a young couple sitting in the front facing each other and having a discussion.

I heard a few words from the man. He was explaining something to the young woman about how his feelings were hurt. I could feel his earnestness, even after just a couple of moments. I also could tell that he was trying really hard to get her to understand him.

But she was not listening to him because I could hear her cut him off quickly and start to explain how she was feeling. I couldn’t hear her words, my friend and I had already passed the car, but I could feel her pain. It was her pain telling the man that he didn’t understand her and she was upset. It had developed into a relationship argument.

Two people desperate to be heard and understood by the other, both struggling in their own way to get that accomplished. I think this is a problem that many couples suffer when they argue, disagree, have a misunderstanding and fight.

We Hurt When We Feel Something Missing, Even if We Can’t Articulate What We’re Longing For

We all want something in our relationships. We want to feel loved, safe, accepted and happy, and we want these feelings all the time and if we don’t get them, well we might just make the other person try and understand we are not getting what we want. That’s what was happening in the car, but both were doing this at the same time.

It would suit us as humans if we could say plainly that we are missing a feeling that we used to feel and we don’t feel it at this moment. But that’s not what we do. We decide there are lots of details that describe how unjust things are and then we attribute them to the person we love the most.

Pay Attention to Your Feelings, and Remember Your Partner Isn’t Hurting You On Purpose

You can reduce arguing in a relationship by removing yourself from the situation and taking time to reflect.

If you are reading this and you find yourself periodically arguing in a relationship, you might even agree that you love your person and yet when you are angry, sad, disappointed or just mad you often blame them for your feelings.

Your feelings are meant to educate you. They do tell you something is amiss. What isn’t working though is to lay it at the feet of the person who loves you because I guarantee it, he or she would not hurt you on purpose. Your partner loves you. Your partner hates to see you upset. Your partner is probably at a loss not knowing what to do to make you happy.

Like the young man and woman in the car, both locked in what was done to them, not knowing how to get out of their own way, and finding themselves trapped in an argument.

Try Taking Turns Listening to One Another

Here’s an idea, one person gets in the driver’s seat and listens to the other and really hears them. I know this takes skill, but it’s a way out. One person has to lead, and hopefully the other will follow. It doesn’t matter who listens first, it just matters that you solve the miscommunication, and get back to loving each other.

And here’s one more thing: even though I am the counselor in the family, guess who gets in the driver’s seat first? Yup, not me, it’s my husband. He’s just better at it. He always helps me, and then I can see myself and then I realize what I might have done to hurt him. Then I apologize and we are back to a good place. It works for us, maybe it can work for you too.

Tired of Arguing in a Relationship? Here’s Some Help

Read a Book About Relationships

'Safe. Happy. Loved. Simple Skills for Your Relationship.' A book by Linda Nusbaum.

Learn how to take time to listen and communicate more peacefully by reading Linda’s book, Safe. Happy. Loved. Simple Skills for Your Relationship. It just might help you and your loved one argue less and connect more. Give it a read.

Get Couples Counseling

Come in for couples counseling. Couples counseling can help you and your loved one get the most out of your relationship. It'll equip you with coping strategies and tools for communication that can help you argue less and love more.

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