The last post outlined logistical arguments with your partner. These types of arguments tend to be the least severe in nature. However, logistical arguments can lead to more significant and potentially damaging interactions between couples.
Historical– Historical arguments between couples “appear” to be on the topic at hand. However, there is much more to these interactions than what is presently being discussed because they are always based upon the past.
Historical arguments with your partner are arguments that we repeat or feel difficult to resolve. They are “felt” in the body and are deeply wired into our nervous system. They are based on unrepaired or unresolved negative emotions we experience from events we attribute were created by our partner such as abandonment, misunderstanding, hurt or a sense of being overly controlled.
The catch here is that these negative emotions may or may not have been created by the partner being questioned. If they were, it is up to that partner to take note, to repair and start behaving in a more sensitive way so as not to re-open that hurt.
If the negative emotions are based upon on hurts that pre-date our relationship (such as from our childhood), it is up to both partners to slow each other down, observe one other and when able, shift to a lens of curiosity.
Perceptual– Perceptual arguments between couples are the classic “he said, she said” arguments. They may be based on logistics and history. However, they have a particular danger to them as the need to win always outweighs empathy. And when there is little to empathy, a marriage or partnership can disintegrate quickly.
No matter who is right or wrong, if a securely functioning relationship is desired, we have to be able to walk in our partner’s shoes. Even when we think we are right, how is our partner experiencing the argument?
It is easy to get lost in our own feelings and state. However, when it gets to this, I challenge couples to try to help each other bring the focus outward as much as possible. Once we do that, we can begin to realize that everything we do and say in perceptual arguments impacts our partner.
In physically and emotionally safe relationships, each time we tend to the emotion behind the words and behavior of our partner, we are more likely to soften. We bring back empathy for our partner and empathy for ourselves.
Discord is very much a part of human experience. The expectation here is not for couples to stop all arguing. That would not be realistic. However, in our built in human search for happiness, the need to be right only provides a temporary path.