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How do you close on an argument?

(22 Posts)
KouignAmann Mon 17-Feb-14 22:07:21

I was a shouter and apologiser married to a sulker. I had never learned how to resolve a disagreement constructively as my DM is a PA martyr (whom I love very much) and we all avoided expressing any anger with her but exploded in sibling rage and fought like frenzied terriers. My DF was a hot flash shouter and apologiser and I copied him. I don't remember any arguments between them from childhood

When my marriage broke down I was literally unable to cope with the damburst of anger my PA husband unleashed on me. I froze, with extreme emotional flooding and had to stonewall him to survive. He thought I was refusing to discuss things when I literally couldn't breathe for extreme fear. I had to remove myself permanently to recover.

Now I am with a lovely DP who is a conflict avoider and we actually have to work hard to ferret out the problems and air them. I have learned to slow down the whole process and let the upset party vent their feelings safely until they are ready to discuss a solution. It is usually an outside third party that has upset one of us and we bring home hurt and outrage and rant until the other one says "enough".

It seems the damage is when the venter is subjecting the other person to such a tirade that it becomes distressing. Sometimes the other has to retreat to protect themself. A PA person will retreat earlier and refuse to engage at all. The apologising is a damage limitation exercise afterwards and shouldn't be needed
if the discussion has been constructive.

I do think learning to cope with disagreement is such a life skill it should be taught in school! I know I will be working on this for the rest of my days.

2rebecca Mon 17-Feb-14 18:49:12

I hate being shouted at so wouldn't be in a relationship with a shouter.
If someone shouts at you and is abusive they can't just pretend they never said the hurtful things.
If my husband shouted and me and was abusive our relationship would be greatly altered. I'd far rather he walked away and said he couldn't talk about it at the moment as he was too upset. I think it's controlling to insist an argument must happen when one of the partners wants it to happen even though the other one isn't feeling up to arguing.
It isn't sulking if you can then discuss the issue later.
I've been with my husband over 10 years and have never had a shouty argument although we do have disagreements and discussions.
Alot of shout and apologisers drink excessively in my experience.
I aslo don't think you can resolve a disagreement if you are emotional and shouting. All that happens is the nonshouter gives in because they've had enough of being shouted at. Nothing is really resolved because the nonshouter hasn't been able to put their opinion across and hasn't felt heard. You don't "win" an argument by having the last or the loudest word.

Joysmum Mon 17-Feb-14 16:31:44

There a big difference between being shouty and being abusive, insulting and threatening.

I shout, but I have NEVER EVER shouted something I've never meant or felt. If I were that sort then my DH would deserve better.

I also need time and space so I don't explode, that doesn't equate to sulking or punishing my DH. Again, he would deserve better.

How does the disagreement end? Well it ends when we both feel that we have both been fully understood in our reasoning and an accord has been reached. It can end this way because we are both mature enough to accept that we are never going to agree on everything and know that we hate being in disagreement so is we do, it's because we both feel strongly on something rather than because we are petty.

NotNewButNameChanged Mon 17-Feb-14 15:18:35

laughing - I don't like heated arguments and have only ever had one serious one in my 40 years but I'm not convinced the very occasional mild row/disagreement is a bad thing. However, I think if it gets in any way unpleasant - real in your face shouting, name calling - then yes, I think it is perfectly acceptable to walk away and say you're not going to talk until things are calmer.

uc Mon 17-Feb-14 14:36:24

I don't think it is a bad thing if one person involved in the argument says "I need some time out to think about this, but can we talk about it again later", and then goes off for a couple of hours to cogitate. This isn't ignoring, or sulking. Sulking (to me anyway) is aggressive silence that leaves the other person feeling on edge and ignored, and frustrated.

Bumpsadaisie Mon 17-Feb-14 14:21:56

I don't think we tend to say really nasty hurtful things in an argument, it tends to be more about the thing that has annoyed us.

But there have been times when we've said really nasty things to each other. I think we have always apologised for saying such a horrid thing and that we didn't mean it we were just cross.

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 17-Feb-14 14:17:20

There's the kind of ignoring/sulking that is deliberately designed to make someone feel nervous or uncomfortable and it is petty and unacceptable. I would actually put sighing, tutting and similar in that category.

Then there's the kind of distance/silence that is because someone is frightened of the response if they speak out. Neither of the above should be present in a healthy relationship.

Who is doing the shouting?

laughingeyes2013 Mon 17-Feb-14 14:13:37

pompey27 - We just give each other space so we can think about it rationally and talk about it once we have seen both perspectives. That sounds as though you're both pretty evenly matched for arguments! Same goes for MinesAPintOfTea. Sounds like you both shout equally and no one actually particularly injures the other person?
NotNewButNameChanged I can see how avoiding all conflict is a bit of a nightmare as things do have to be discussed. Do you think if you had been really hurtful (and I'm sure you weren't, just asking in theory) then she would have theoretically justified? or do you think that it doesn't matter how injured the person feels, they just shouldn't get that protective?

laughingeyes2013 Mon 17-Feb-14 14:06:48

CogitoErgoSometimes Distance on its own would be a passive aggressive, ignoring or sulking response and I don't think it achieves anything constructive. I am really interested to explore this further. Would you say there is a difference between ignoring and sulking or is it ALWAYS the same thing?
Telling someone that their behaviour has been so unacceptable & so upsetting that you are not going to engage with them until they apologise IMHO is more constructive. So you mean really early on in the discussion, before it gets out of hand? And what if the problem is actions and not words? For example, tutting and sighing and bashing kitchen utensils, and then denying they've just tutted and sighed and bashed kitchen utensils and continue to clonk around the house like a fairy elephant!

NotNewButNameChanged Mon 17-Feb-14 13:59:47

Another voice to say Men Are From Mars is total bollocks (or at least, like most things, accurate for some people, not accurate for others).

My ex (I'm a bloke) would never row. Ever. Not one argument in best part of 10 years. She would literally shut it down. I might say something firmly and she would just say "don't shout at me" when I hadn't even got to the point of raising my voice at all, let alone shout. And walk out.

MinesAPintOfTea Mon 17-Feb-14 13:51:12

Sometimes someone will shout and usually one of us goes off to a different room once the argument has blown up. Within 20-30 minutes the other will offer a cup of tea and it will be accepted and discussed calmly or we agree to differ.

pompey27 Mon 17-Feb-14 13:42:00

laughingeyes not at all. We just give each other space so we can think about it rationally and talk about it once we have seen both perspectives. We find it's a much healthier way of dealing with it than screaming and shouting at each other and not coming to any conclusion.

As I said, everyone is different and there is no set way to 'close an argument'.

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 17-Feb-14 13:28:39

Distance on its own would be a passive aggressive, ignoring or sulking response and I don't think it achieves anything constructive. Telling someone that their behaviour has been so unacceptable & so upsetting that you are not going to engage with them until they apologise IMHO is more constructive. However, without remorse, an apology means nothing and if you're 'braced for round two' then that suggests this person has no intention to change behaviour. The only 'distance' that is acceptable in that case is a few miles and a different front door... ie. 'LTB'

BTW... Men 'from Mars' and retreating into caves is just such utter rubbish that I think you can safely ignore it.

laughingeyes2013 Mon 17-Feb-14 13:22:41

inthecloud - Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus seems to suggest that men retreat to their cave. However, as a female, I often retreat when I feel attacked, so I'm not sure it applies. Is it as much a personality thing rather than a sex thing?

CogitoErgoSometimes - so would you say that distance for a period of recovery time is perfectly normal because you're not pretending all is rosy.

pompey27 - so with your new system, would you say that you never end up apologising to each other and figuring out how to 'get back on track' with each other?

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 17-Feb-14 12:40:47

"It it false to pretend you feel ok but deal with it inwardly, so you don't create an atmosphere"

It is not false but it is unhealthy and it will severely damage your self-esteem over time. Dealing with something inwardly means suppressing your genuine feelings rather than expressing them. Avoiding atmospheres means that, over time, you will end up completely silenced. Avoiding the person is known as 'passive aggressive' and it is a recipe for stress.

If you are unhappy with someone's treatment of you, you should be able to tell them. If you are afraid to tell them and if you feel you have to modify your behaviour in order to keep the peace... 'walking on eggshells'.... then the chances are you are with a bully.

pompey27 Mon 17-Feb-14 12:38:25

My DP and I are very different. I want to shout and scream until the argument is resolved whereas he shuts off and often leaves until the situation has calmed down. Although it is infuriating to begin with, it actually works as I am a lot calmer by the time he gets home and then we can talk about it rationally.

I don't think there is any right way to resolve things. Every relationship is different and everyone has their own way of dealing with things.

I have learnt over the years to lower my voice and try and convince him to stay rather than drive him away and it seems to work well.

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 17-Feb-14 12:34:00

Personally I don't think shouting clears the air however I also don't think shouting is the only form of verbal or emotional abuse. Robust disagreements are fine and arguing a point is no problem, but when the discussion descends into any of the following.... sarcasm, personal insults, dredging up of old wrongs, threats, sulking, aggression ... then, unless there was immediate and sincere remorse, I would regard that as the end of the friendship or relationship. I haven't always been so black and white but I've been on the receiving end of all of the above in the past, wasted HUGE amounts of my time avoiding 'atmospheres' and making compromises and I am not prepared to do the same again - let alone kiss and make up.

Rejecting bullies is not punishment, it is self-preservation.

MrsBartowski Mon 17-Feb-14 12:31:07

Probably only hours.

It's been a while since I had a partner to row with tbh!

But I guess it would depend on the argument.

inthecloud Mon 17-Feb-14 12:28:54

Read 'Men are from Mars, Women from Venus', that will help you understand the differences in gender and why some withdraw

laughingeyes2013 Mon 17-Feb-14 12:26:37

How long does your need for distance usually last - are we talking hours or days?

MrsBartowski Mon 17-Feb-14 12:16:53

I am the type of person who needs space to process my feelings - especially after a row. So I would probably distance myself from someone who had hurt me even if they had apologised afterwards.

I don't see that as abusive or punishing the other person. It's just what I would need to do to get my head straight so that I could move on.

I think the key is to be honest about it though. I wouldn't just skulk off without a word. I'd explain that I accepted their apology but that I needed some space to digest my own reaction to what was happening.

laughingeyes2013 Mon 17-Feb-14 12:11:34

There is a thread about someone saying they shout at their partner, who in return withdraws and avoids spending time with that person.

It seems that half of the responders to the post are saying shouting is abusive and should be treated as such, and the other half of responders seem to say that shouting clears the air and is healthy, but wanting to be distant from the shouter is a form of control or emotional abuse.

So it got me wondering how people deal with their feelings about a person who has yelled awful things at them, and then retracted it all in an apology later. Or maybe not shouted but belittled or devalued in some way.

I believe in forgiving people but does anyone feel defensive and distant from a serial 'shouter-and-apologiser' to the point that you want to spend some time away from them for whatever reason. Maybe to recover or get your head around what was said, and brace yourself for round two should it happen again.

It it false to pretend you feel ok but deal with it inwardly, so you don't create an atmosphere, or is it better to be honest and avoid the person until you genuinely want to be around them again. If you feel hurt and defensive do you really want to kiss someone who says sorry and reaches out for a kiss?

When does it cross the line into trying to punish the person who hurt you?

I'm interested in how people get over such arguments in an honest and healthy way.

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