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How do you stop arguments escalating?

(18 Posts)
LondonJem Mon 05-Sep-16 15:21:51

DH and I have been together 10 years, married 18 months. We've been trying for a baby for 9 months - this is taking its toll emotionally on both of us.

Stupid arguments escalate quickly and simmer far longer than they should. We both have quick tempers. I get so hot headed I can't see straight and say hurtful things. He disagrees with almost everything I say and catastrophises things (eg "this is going to ruin the whole week now", "do you even still love me").

We love each other very much. We have a strong supportive marriage. There are lots of good things, we just need to get better at nipping stupid disagreements in the bud.

Do you have any tips or techniques?

RedMapleLeaf Mon 05-Sep-16 15:29:39

I can't understand how some couples jump from disagreement and misunderstanding to aggressive and hurtful. How can you say nasty things to someone you love? I just don't get it.

RedMapleLeaf Mon 05-Sep-16 15:34:13

Anyway, I guess my tips are to look for common ground, acknowledge what you agree with. Don't raise your voice, don't be unkind. Stay present. Act with compassion.

I often ask myself whether I'm responding to the here-and-now or am I responding in reaction to itreminding me of the past and how I was treated as a child?

I recommend the Feeling Good Handbook by David Burns which I found useful for challenging my thinking.

sianihedgehog Mon 05-Sep-16 15:39:27

Gosh. How helpful redmapleleaf.

OP, I find I have to pause and reflect consciously when I feel myself becoming frustrated and reframe my feelings in terms of what I am feeling or what I want rather than what he has done or said. And apologise right away if I realise I've snapped rather than digging in to defend my position. Sometimes I just have to leave something a while and deliver a prepared statement on it later, like a politician. If there's something I need to discuss that I worry will cause a row, I actually schedule the discussion so we both have time to think about what we want to say first, and I bring notes to remind me. If you both love each other and are mostly on the same page, but are hot tempered and nervous a lot of rows can start nit because you disagree but because you're each afraid the other will disagree!

LondonJem Mon 05-Sep-16 15:39:49

Thanks redmaple. This is exactly what happens and it's wrong sad I think it's being hot headed, and the pressure of ttc for a long time. I'll try to act with more compassion.

sianihedgehog Mon 05-Sep-16 15:40:28

Sorry redmapleleaf cross posted when only your first comment had appeared blush

littlejeopardy Mon 05-Sep-16 15:50:02

What helps me is to try and never try and 'punish' DH. No insults, no sulking, no being stroppy in retaliation to something I think he did wrong.

I think marriage merges your lives so much that you can't be happy if your spouse is miserable. So it is pointless trying to hurt them.

Also after an argument reach out quickly afterwards to get back to normal...give a hug, offer a brew, do something nice. It changes the record.

RedMapleLeaf Mon 05-Sep-16 16:00:37

No worries sian smile I have a terrible habit of taking two or three posts to make my contribution! I think your point about apologising is very important and one I totally missed out. Sometimes I just apologise for my part in the argument, because I can see how I contributed to it, and I'm sorry for causing hurt, even if I didn't say anything wrong, if that makes sense?

London I read recently a quote about asking yourself, "Does this come from the best part of me?" and it's really helped me slow down and act with compassion. I don't always remember though sad especially on the internet.

JustAnotherPoster00 Mon 05-Sep-16 16:14:11

It's already been said but would agree to NEVER raise your voice, its pointless and the minute you do communication has stopped, also keep the argument/discussion on track never deviate to unrelated shit smile

FeedMeAndTellMeImPretty Mon 05-Sep-16 16:26:30

Is your partner equally keen to resolve this problem? Both my DP and I have a habit of escalating things to an alarming degree (think end of the relationship stuff!) so we have both been working on ways to do disagreements better!

He read a book called the Chimp Paradox which has helped him to identify when his 'chimp' is getting agitated and he can calm himself down better.

A friend also suggested something called Intentional Dialogue which can help you to communicate without arguing. Google it for a more in-depth description, but it basically involves you both agreeing to listen to the other one's point of view without judging, repeat back what they have said so that you can be sure that you've understood and you can see it from their point of view and then....instead of disagreeing you say "that makes sense" because if you hear their side of things without putting your own spin on it, it DOES make sense that they are upset! It's a very simple concept but one which has completely changed the way DP and I talk to each other.

IsItIorAreTheOthersCrazy Mon 05-Sep-16 16:29:41

I understand OP. Me and DH are both hot headed and have also been battling through infertility. The rows can be quite something!

Best advice I can give is to stop. When you're absolutely in the middle of it, you're too late. Stop when you feel yourself getting worked up / angry. Leave the room, go and do something else.

Me and DH had a discussion about this and laid down ground rules.
No shouting
No interrupting
Think before you speak.
If one person needs space, they get it

Usually we talk / row. Leave it alone when we realise it's pointless / we're getting nowhere and come back to it later when we're calm. That's when we can work together to deal with the issue.

Or, always imagine there's a camera Crewe around you. If you wouldn't say what you're about to say in front of them, you probably shouldn't be saying it!

hermione2016 Mon 05-Sep-16 16:50:37

Redmaple,I think the rules apply for healthy relationships but in unhealthy relationships other dynamics are at play.

Gottman refers to repair attempts which are mechanisms couples use (mostly naturally) to defuse situations but these are often not present in unhealthy relationships so escalation happens.I can't imagine hurting my loved ones in an argument but in an unhealthy relationship my threat level is so high I don't respond normally.

I'm just separating from my husband so maybe projecting but no amount of 'time outs' seemed to cool h's anger, nor could the argument be discussed later so we could apologise and move on.Nothing healed so the next argument would be against that backdrop and as a result escalated quicker.Each party taking some responsibility is critical.If you genuinely apologise it does reduce the likelihood of the same behaviour reoccurring.

LondonJem Mon 05-Sep-16 17:48:21

Sometimes I just have to leave something a while and deliver a prepared statement on it later, like a politician.

Siani this made me smile smile it's a good idea though. Often there is an important point to make, but I'm so wound up I can't make it properly or in a way he will actually take on board.

What helps me is to try and never try and 'punish' DH. No insults, no sulking, no being stroppy in retaliation to something I think he did wrong.

Littlejeopardy I am so guilty of this. My mum is a terrible sulker, I worry I have learnt this from her. I can see myself doing it and hate it but it's so hard to break out of! Your point about not being happy if your spouse is miserable is so true too. How I'm feeling impacts massively on DH.

It's already been said but would agree to NEVER raise your voice

JustAnother - being honest wth myself I do do this blush I just sometimes feel like he isn't listening to me. He's too busy preparing his response and not hearing what I'm saying.

Feedme he is equally keen to resolve, he hates confrontation. I really like the idea about repeating back the other persons POV. I think an awful lot of our problem is inferring meaning into what the other person is saying, that they never actually intended.

Itisi - really love your ground rules I am going to talk to DH about what ours could be. The camera crew is another good one - sometimes I do get a sudden vision of myself from the outside looking in and I don't like what I see

* Each party taking some responsibility is critical*

hermione I'm fortunate in that once DH has calmed down he ALWAYS apologises. Being in a relationship with him has made me get better at that. My family never back down or apologise - I can't remember ever hearing my mum or dad saying sorry so it doesn't come naturally to me. Such a powerful word and so important to use it meaningfully.

Thanks for all of your thoughts and for not judging me


Heatherjayne1972 Mon 05-Sep-16 17:49:50

I think it depends I was brought up to apologise first and be keen to make peace but my ex wasn't he wanted to 'score points ' and if that meant dragging up every bad thing he could think of he would. ( along with violence)
In the end he expected me to apologise every time for disagreeing with him I couldn't walk away he would just follow me and wear me down until it was easier to just go along with whatever he wanted
Point is you both have to be prepared to step back and be wrong if you really love each other

RedMapleLeaf Mon 05-Sep-16 18:16:35

I just sometimes feel like he isn't listening to me. He's too busy preparing his response and not hearing what I'm saying.

You said this regarding why you raise your voice. You are going to have more success if you lower your voice (well, it works with my classes of teenagers. And puppies).

FeedMeAndTellMeImPretty Mon 05-Sep-16 18:21:18

Yes, it really works. He will say for example "so you felt like I didn't want to spend time with you, I can see why you might have thought that" No excuses or "why on earth would you think that?!" He really just tries to put himself in my shoes. It is very disarming.

From my side, to be fair he rarely moans about anything so these discussions usually come at because of something that has bothered me rather than him. I find that if the atmosphere is a bit frosty after we've argued, it helps for me to out my hand on his arm and say I don't want to argue with you. It just takes the heat out of the situation.

When they talk about people's love languages, his is definitely touch - he can feel from the way I stroke his back if I'm upset or not! So a loving touch is something that is important to him. Similarly, he has learnt that if he wants me to settle down more quickly, a quiet tone and a hug will do it, whereas funnily enough shouting at me that I have some sort of problem has never really worked confusedhmm

Mybugslife Mon 05-Sep-16 18:27:05

After we lost our son my DH and I were like this. We went to counselling and she suggested we take 5 minutes to ourself, even if it's in the middle of a discussion/argument. My DH will go outside for a smoke and I will take the dog round the block or lay on the bed. Once we've both calmed down we can talk about it rationally, it'll it escalates again then we take 5 again. It only works if you talk about it before any argument arises. So you both know what you intend to do if and when u argue.

My DH and I barely ever argue now, in fact I can't remember the last time we even had a disagreement. X

LondonJem Mon 05-Sep-16 18:44:55

Sorry about your ex heather sounds awful. I think we are both prepared to step back. I've called a few of these suggestions about to him this afternoon and he liked them

Feedme I'll see if we can try it next time we fall out. The touch thing is funny - he always wants to come towards me, put his hands on me - I go other way and don't want to be near him at all. I feel crowded and like he's trapping me! I said to him we should try having space in an argument to try and cool down and he agreed that he's not great at this and will try. He wants a hug and kiss as soon as possible to make up - that physical reassurance is so important to him so maybe I should try to do that too for him

Mybugslife thanks for sharing. I would so love to get to get to a point where we can say we rarely argue too. Or at least de-escalate arguments quickly. So sorry for you loss also.

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