4 Steps to prevent the escalation of disagreements in your relationship

By | November 4, 2014 | Love & Relationships

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4 Steps to prevent the escalation of disagreements in your relationship | The Momiverse | Article by Jeff Forte

Many years ago I had a conversation with my wife that could have ended our marriage. I’ve seen many couples engaged in the exact same cycle of relationship destruction.

Here’s what happened:

My wife accused me of having a tone and I responded back, “Who, me?”

So I took the stance that I had no tone.

She then said something back to me with a tone in her voice. So I escalated with more of the same. She reacted by raising her voice, and I responded by raising my voice even more. She raised her voice and said something that wasn’t pleasant to me. I did the same.

We were in a very heated argument. About what? I have no idea.

Does this sound familiar?

This conversation approached the threshold of relationship destruction. Fortunately, I realized it before it was too late.

What typically happens at this level is one person says something he wishes he didn’t say, and the other person says something the other person can never forget or forgive. The words and emotional escalation are devastating for trust and respect in the relationship. As you might imagine, escalation can also lead to physical violence in some situations.

When escalation occurs regularly, a couple’s connection can be severed so completely that it cannot be repaired without significant outside help. Destroying trust and respect leads to the loss of intimacy and the relationship begins to die.

Here’s how to prevent the escalation of disagreements in your relationship:

1.   Make a choice not to escalate the problem.

In my situation above, I had the presence of mind to realize if this escalation continued, we, our relationship, would be in trouble, And if we continued down this path, I would question the survivability of the relationship.

Could it really end as quickly as I imagined it might? What was the limit to what someone could say and the other person would still feel loved? I didn’t want to find out.

2.   Give up the need to be right.

That was a defining moment. I decided I didn’t have to be right. Escalations are often about who is more right, or whose needs are more important. I did something radically different.

3.   Think about the big picture.

I thought about why I was with my wife, why I loved her, why I wanted to be with her, and what I truly wanted our relationship to be about. I immediately began to think about my vision of our relationship and it changed me instantly. And maybe it saved us.

4.   Lighten your tone and express your love.

I immediately softened my tone, and said “I love you so much. I don’t want to argue with you.” Did she escalate the situation further? Of course not. She immediately softened her tone to match mine. The argument was over. It could have easily gone the other way had I wanted to continue to prove I was more right than she was.

I have seen couples fight about who brought more baggage into the marriage, who left the refrigerator door open, and other petty things. If you are fighting about who is more right, the argument will escalate and no one will ever win. Even if you think you won, you will feel bad because the other person is miserable.

Your relationship is guaranteed to suffer when you escalate disagreements.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, soften up and lighten up. Think about the bigger picture.

Why are you with this person?
What do you want your life together to be like?

Changing your approach will get you out of your head and give you access to the wisdom of your heart. And you’ll know what to do next. As you immediately shift your tone, rather than trying to prove how you’re right, you’ll access a deeper truth within your heart and understand why you love your partner.

It might just save your relationship.

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Jeff Forte

Jeff Forte CSIC, CME author of The 90-Minute Marriage Miracle and founder of PEAK Results Coaching is an Executive and Peak Performance Coach specializing in team and relationship dynamics. His clients include Fortune 500 executives, business professionals, attorneys, surgeons, professional athletes, teams and couples. For more information visit 90MinuteMarriageMiracle.com.

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