Most people hate conflict and many avoid it at all costs. But quality relationships are often forged when difficult conversations are had, and the relationship comes out stronger on the other end. I have found sometimes it means having a good old argument to shake the relationship to where it needs to go.
Unfortunately, the idea of even coming near an argument brings up fear and painful memories; usually stemming back to a bad relationship or childhood experiences. These negative references train us to avoid confrontational discussions, honest revealings or conflicts.
We have been programmed that arguments are always bad. The vast majority of people I bump into do not even like conflict in the first place, let alone getting into an argument.We have been programmed that arguments are always bad. They don't have to be. Click To Tweet
While many of the arguments we experience can be dangerous, out of control and often start on petty issues; this does not have to steal the fact that having a great argument can actually be very productive to the future of the relationship. A good old fashion argument can actually bring out the needed changes and move the relationship to a new level.A good old fashion argument can actually move the relationship to a new level. Click To Tweet
Here’s my point: we need to stop looking at arguments as a bad thing and look at them as opportunities to grow the relationship to the next level. Our relationships live in groves and ruts; some good and some bad. Unfortunately, most things don’t change unless we get shaken out of them. If we know how to have a productive argument, we can find ourselves breaking out of dysfunctional patterns.Unfortunately, most things don’t change unless we get shaken out of them. Click To Tweet
When Melissa and I were first married, all our terrible argument skills came to the surface. What began as a “disagreement” moved into hot debates that soon brought in a cascade of deadly emotions. Things get personal quick–accusation started flying and all our immature communication patterns arose.
I quickly realized that when I am hurt and not being heard, I use the door as a way to escape. I remove myself as a way of protection, but I also remove myself from loving my wife in a moment where she needed to hear me. Melissa had her own patterns that she fell into, where the argument would change subjects every 3 seconds, where what we began to talk about was not even the present subject. Now we are arguing about things and we don’t even know why we are arguing anymore.
After a number of rounds facing this cycle, God quickly began to deal with my heart. My first response was to focus on my wife; but Father God wasn’t having that. He focused the scope right onto me and my heart. During that time, He began to teach me how to confront the issues of my heart that were not allowing love and transformation to enter. I began to realize that no matter what the argument is, what I bring to the table spiritually and relationally is more important than the subject we are addressing.
A New Perspective
I looked at the arguments in a new lens. Instead of seeing an argument as something to avoid, I saw it as an opportunity for our relationship to go to the next level. I love coaching married couples to engage arguments as a chance for their relationship to get shaken to the next level; to break out of mediocrity and move into a greater place of intimacy.
Today, we still have arguments, but our toxic engagements are less and less. Almost extinct. When we do argue, they don’t last as long and they become productive for change!
Personally, I do not believe the goal should be to NEVER have an argument again. Couples that never argue concern me. There’s often a lot of toxic sewage lingering underground. But a good argument can be a great way to grow in healthy communication.
Here’s some reasons why a good argument can be incredible productive:
1. You can move into a more honest relationship.
When we get into an argument, we often become more emotionally heated. This means that we have the potential to be more raw and unfiltered. This can be incredibly harmful if we don’t handle each other properly. Yet at the same time, relationships that are galvanized for long term effectiveness need that honest atmosphere.
Most relationships are stuck coming out of a lack of honesty. Only in the tunnel of relational chaos, where we get vulnerable and honest that we find ourselves coming out of that tunnel in greater strength together. The line from “A Few Good Men” of “you can’t handle the truth” is a valid statement. Only when we are willing to handle the truth that needs to come forward will effective honesty take place.Most relationships are stuck coming out of a lack of honesty. Click To Tweet
2. A good argument can break us out of areas that need to be addressed in the relationship.
Every relationship has bad patterns that need to be changed, but we typically do not change unless we are sick of our current state or we hurt enough that we have to change. Sometimes the relationship needs to be put to the fire, so things that are not of God can be burned out. For me, I needed to break deep patterns of selfishness, self-preservation and immaturity. But I would have never confronted these areas if the arguments did not send those signals to my heart. A good argument brings a sobriety to wake people up to what’s at stake.Sometimes relationships needs to be put to the fire, so what is not of God can be burned out. Click To Tweet
3. This is an opportunity to adjust our bad relational patterns.
What does it take to move from destructive arguments to a good argument? Changing your relational poor relational approaches. Embracing the argument with intentions to grow helps us over time to get better at having difficult discussions. Most people are terrible at having difficult discussions, simply because they never have them! The only way we can get better is to keep having them.Most people are terrible at having difficult discussions, simply because they never have them! Click To Tweet
4. We can model to our kids on having a disagreement, but its possible to talk through it without killing each other.
Most people hate arguments because they heard their parents violently arguing; throwing insults or objects at each other. Others grew up with their parents hiding their arguments, but the spiritual atmosphere of strife was still in the house. I am not saying to have arguments all the time in front of your kids. But when did we think we were fooling our kids, thinking they don’t know something’s going on?
With that in mind, let’s have some solid rules for a good argument.
Rules of Good Arguments:
1. You have to be deeply committed to the improvement of the relationship.
If you are going to be honest just before you walk out the door and get a divorce, then you’ve got the wrong mindset.
2. Commit to NOT walking out or checking out.
Honestly is only helpful there is an atmosphere of loving commitment that says, “I am in this to break through with you. I am not leaving.” This means no storming out of the room and not shutting down. These two behaviors are both rooted in hate (the withdrawing of love). It’s as that most couples are on the verge of breaking through, when suddenly one person storms out in hurt. They just missed the opportunity to let healing enter.
It takes two for this to work, so both of you need to hang in there and fight your way to the improvement of your relationship.
3. Remember the person you are talking to is not the enemy.
The spiritual enemy of satan’s camp is your enemy. It is he who is seeking to steal, kill and destroy. Keep your focus on who the enemy really is.
4. You have to face your poor communication skills.
We all have them. We start yelling. We accuse quickly. We don’t know how to talk through things. We are afraid. We dump the resentment truck of all the past issues. We accuse. All these need to be addressed so we can heal and approach the conversation better each time.
5. Learn how to listen.
An observation I find in people today is too many are terrible listeners. Most are either too distracted to listen or are simply waiting for you to get done talking so they can speak their prepared statements. When it comes to an argument, it does not matter if you are right or wrong, the one who is affective is the one who knows how to listen.
The more we listen, the more we can remain calm and the more we can hear the wisdom of heaven to get to the root of the problem. Part of maturity is being willing to understand what the other person is feeling, even though they may be wrong in your eyes. The one who can listen and hear the other person out is the one who will lead the relationship into resolution and better strength.
6. Address your personal defensiveness.
The things that make us mad stem back to issues of our heart that have not been healed. The only way you can have a more productive argument is to deal with your hurts and brokenness, otherwise you will defend them at all costs. You have two choices with your hurts; defend them or get them healed.
So a good question to ask yourself in an argument is, “What is the hurt that is coming up here for me?”
7. Ask yourself, “Do I want to be in a better relationship, or do I just want to be right all the time?”
Being in a great relationship does not mean being right all the time. If you don’t care if you are right all the time, its easier to be productive in the conversation.
8. Follow healthy conflict resolution.
In my book, “Bitter Free!” I outline how to participate in effective conflict resolution.
One of the best rules to use is the simplest. Communicate, communicate, communicate, repent …repeat.
Question: In what ways can you have “better arguments” so that your relationship can improve?
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