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How to NEVER Lose Another Argument With Your Partner

Both of us are in long-term, loving, committed marriages. And we’ve also both been in our fair share of arguments. We’ve learned a lot through our years of training, research, working with clients, and putting a lot of hard work into the relationships that matter most to us.

The secret to never losing another argument is to stop playing the game of arguing. Conflict and differences will always arise. But by using the communication tools below, you can transform your conflicts into openings for deeper understanding, new levels of care, and a stronger foundation for a lifelong partnership.

1. Speak only the truth

"When I experienced X, I felt Y." Practice only using statements beginning with “I” and avoid starting sentences with “you.”

“You” puts the other person on the defensive and into argument mode. Your experience and your feelings belong to you and no one else; they’re all valid and your personal truths in how you’ve experienced a situation. You can’t lose this argument!

It may be the case that you misunderstood something, or that your experience and feelings are ultimately the results of some past trauma and not the current situation. But the reality remains: you had an experience and feelings followed.

2. Own everything

Honestly owning what is yours in any conflict or disagreement usually frees up your partner to begin to own what is theirs.

What does it mean to own “yours?” It means owning your triggers (the things that emotionally activate you in ways that don’t usually activate others) and owning your conscious values (“I have a value for honesty”), and working to own your unconscious values (what we call shadow values: things we value but aren’t aware of).

By owning your triggers and values, you’re saying: this is all my stuff I’m aware of, I want to let you in, and I want to be let into your inner world as well. Instead of the conflict turning into a battleground, it opens up as a field for compassionate mutual understanding.

3. Make it about your parts and not your True Self

In Internal Family Systems Therapy, an evidence-based psychotherapeutic approach to emotional health, our internal world is made up of a bunch of mental-emotional parts that have either been wounded over the years or have grown up to protect us from those wounds.

All of our triggers, all of our lashing out, and all of our addictive and neglectful behaviors are due to these protective parts acting out. When you’re in an argument, take a second to reflect on how your parts are playing a central role in the conflict.

Recognize the role your inner parts play and then relax back into your True Self. Ask yourself: what would my true/highest self say about how I am acting right now? What do I need to change/adjust in order to act intentionally with my truest self? Your parts may lose the argument, but your True Self stays undefeated!

4. Focus on healing

You will never lose another argument if you see your conflicts with your partner as conflicts between your inner emotional wounds and their inner emotional wounds.

Most of our emotional wounds have their roots in childhood and over the years we all have developed strategies for protecting these wounds and preventing further wounding.

When we get triggered or emotionally activated in a conflict, we can take notice, step back, and focus on what needs to be healed. There is no winning and losing from this higher perspective; the only thing that matters is healing.        

5. Come back to the big picture

Ask yourself if your relationship is more important than winning this conflict. If your relationship is more highly valued, then winning and losing don’t matter.

Lifelong, committed relationships can’t be built solely on love, agreement, and similarity–at least if both partners are going to stay true to themselves. It also takes renewed commitment. Try using your conflicts and disagreements as an opportunity to renew your commitment to each other and the family as a whole. Turn the spotlight away from the conflict and onto your shared commitment to your family.

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How to NEVER Lose Another Argument With Your Partner

Justin Wilford, PhD and Alicia Wuth, PsyD share some powerful evidence-based relationship communication tools that can help you to never lose another argument with your partner

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Key takeaways

1

Speak with "I" statements and own everything that's yours in the conflict

2

Make it about your inner parts and not your True Self, and focus on healing inner emotional wounds

3

Think of the big picture: your relationship means more than winning an argument

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Both of us are in long-term, loving, committed marriages. And we’ve also both been in our fair share of arguments. We’ve learned a lot through our years of training, research, working with clients, and putting a lot of hard work into the relationships that matter most to us.

The secret to never losing another argument is to stop playing the game of arguing. Conflict and differences will always arise. But by using the communication tools below, you can transform your conflicts into openings for deeper understanding, new levels of care, and a stronger foundation for a lifelong partnership.

1. Speak only the truth

"When I experienced X, I felt Y." Practice only using statements beginning with “I” and avoid starting sentences with “you.”

“You” puts the other person on the defensive and into argument mode. Your experience and your feelings belong to you and no one else; they’re all valid and your personal truths in how you’ve experienced a situation. You can’t lose this argument!

It may be the case that you misunderstood something, or that your experience and feelings are ultimately the results of some past trauma and not the current situation. But the reality remains: you had an experience and feelings followed.

2. Own everything

Honestly owning what is yours in any conflict or disagreement usually frees up your partner to begin to own what is theirs.

What does it mean to own “yours?” It means owning your triggers (the things that emotionally activate you in ways that don’t usually activate others) and owning your conscious values (“I have a value for honesty”), and working to own your unconscious values (what we call shadow values: things we value but aren’t aware of).

By owning your triggers and values, you’re saying: this is all my stuff I’m aware of, I want to let you in, and I want to be let into your inner world as well. Instead of the conflict turning into a battleground, it opens up as a field for compassionate mutual understanding.

3. Make it about your parts and not your True Self

In Internal Family Systems Therapy, an evidence-based psychotherapeutic approach to emotional health, our internal world is made up of a bunch of mental-emotional parts that have either been wounded over the years or have grown up to protect us from those wounds.

All of our triggers, all of our lashing out, and all of our addictive and neglectful behaviors are due to these protective parts acting out. When you’re in an argument, take a second to reflect on how your parts are playing a central role in the conflict.

Recognize the role your inner parts play and then relax back into your True Self. Ask yourself: what would my true/highest self say about how I am acting right now? What do I need to change/adjust in order to act intentionally with my truest self? Your parts may lose the argument, but your True Self stays undefeated!

4. Focus on healing

You will never lose another argument if you see your conflicts with your partner as conflicts between your inner emotional wounds and their inner emotional wounds.

Most of our emotional wounds have their roots in childhood and over the years we all have developed strategies for protecting these wounds and preventing further wounding.

When we get triggered or emotionally activated in a conflict, we can take notice, step back, and focus on what needs to be healed. There is no winning and losing from this higher perspective; the only thing that matters is healing.        

5. Come back to the big picture

Ask yourself if your relationship is more important than winning this conflict. If your relationship is more highly valued, then winning and losing don’t matter.

Lifelong, committed relationships can’t be built solely on love, agreement, and similarity–at least if both partners are going to stay true to themselves. It also takes renewed commitment. Try using your conflicts and disagreements as an opportunity to renew your commitment to each other and the family as a whole. Turn the spotlight away from the conflict and onto your shared commitment to your family.

Both of us are in long-term, loving, committed marriages. And we’ve also both been in our fair share of arguments. We’ve learned a lot through our years of training, research, working with clients, and putting a lot of hard work into the relationships that matter most to us.

The secret to never losing another argument is to stop playing the game of arguing. Conflict and differences will always arise. But by using the communication tools below, you can transform your conflicts into openings for deeper understanding, new levels of care, and a stronger foundation for a lifelong partnership.

1. Speak only the truth

"When I experienced X, I felt Y." Practice only using statements beginning with “I” and avoid starting sentences with “you.”

“You” puts the other person on the defensive and into argument mode. Your experience and your feelings belong to you and no one else; they’re all valid and your personal truths in how you’ve experienced a situation. You can’t lose this argument!

It may be the case that you misunderstood something, or that your experience and feelings are ultimately the results of some past trauma and not the current situation. But the reality remains: you had an experience and feelings followed.

2. Own everything

Honestly owning what is yours in any conflict or disagreement usually frees up your partner to begin to own what is theirs.

What does it mean to own “yours?” It means owning your triggers (the things that emotionally activate you in ways that don’t usually activate others) and owning your conscious values (“I have a value for honesty”), and working to own your unconscious values (what we call shadow values: things we value but aren’t aware of).

By owning your triggers and values, you’re saying: this is all my stuff I’m aware of, I want to let you in, and I want to be let into your inner world as well. Instead of the conflict turning into a battleground, it opens up as a field for compassionate mutual understanding.

3. Make it about your parts and not your True Self

In Internal Family Systems Therapy, an evidence-based psychotherapeutic approach to emotional health, our internal world is made up of a bunch of mental-emotional parts that have either been wounded over the years or have grown up to protect us from those wounds.

All of our triggers, all of our lashing out, and all of our addictive and neglectful behaviors are due to these protective parts acting out. When you’re in an argument, take a second to reflect on how your parts are playing a central role in the conflict.

Recognize the role your inner parts play and then relax back into your True Self. Ask yourself: what would my true/highest self say about how I am acting right now? What do I need to change/adjust in order to act intentionally with my truest self? Your parts may lose the argument, but your True Self stays undefeated!

4. Focus on healing

You will never lose another argument if you see your conflicts with your partner as conflicts between your inner emotional wounds and their inner emotional wounds.

Most of our emotional wounds have their roots in childhood and over the years we all have developed strategies for protecting these wounds and preventing further wounding.

When we get triggered or emotionally activated in a conflict, we can take notice, step back, and focus on what needs to be healed. There is no winning and losing from this higher perspective; the only thing that matters is healing.        

5. Come back to the big picture

Ask yourself if your relationship is more important than winning this conflict. If your relationship is more highly valued, then winning and losing don’t matter.

Lifelong, committed relationships can’t be built solely on love, agreement, and similarity–at least if both partners are going to stay true to themselves. It also takes renewed commitment. Try using your conflicts and disagreements as an opportunity to renew your commitment to each other and the family as a whole. Turn the spotlight away from the conflict and onto your shared commitment to your family.

Both of us are in long-term, loving, committed marriages. And we’ve also both been in our fair share of arguments. We’ve learned a lot through our years of training, research, working with clients, and putting a lot of hard work into the relationships that matter most to us.

The secret to never losing another argument is to stop playing the game of arguing. Conflict and differences will always arise. But by using the communication tools below, you can transform your conflicts into openings for deeper understanding, new levels of care, and a stronger foundation for a lifelong partnership.

1. Speak only the truth

"When I experienced X, I felt Y." Practice only using statements beginning with “I” and avoid starting sentences with “you.”

“You” puts the other person on the defensive and into argument mode. Your experience and your feelings belong to you and no one else; they’re all valid and your personal truths in how you’ve experienced a situation. You can’t lose this argument!

It may be the case that you misunderstood something, or that your experience and feelings are ultimately the results of some past trauma and not the current situation. But the reality remains: you had an experience and feelings followed.

2. Own everything

Honestly owning what is yours in any conflict or disagreement usually frees up your partner to begin to own what is theirs.

What does it mean to own “yours?” It means owning your triggers (the things that emotionally activate you in ways that don’t usually activate others) and owning your conscious values (“I have a value for honesty”), and working to own your unconscious values (what we call shadow values: things we value but aren’t aware of).

By owning your triggers and values, you’re saying: this is all my stuff I’m aware of, I want to let you in, and I want to be let into your inner world as well. Instead of the conflict turning into a battleground, it opens up as a field for compassionate mutual understanding.

3. Make it about your parts and not your True Self

In Internal Family Systems Therapy, an evidence-based psychotherapeutic approach to emotional health, our internal world is made up of a bunch of mental-emotional parts that have either been wounded over the years or have grown up to protect us from those wounds.

All of our triggers, all of our lashing out, and all of our addictive and neglectful behaviors are due to these protective parts acting out. When you’re in an argument, take a second to reflect on how your parts are playing a central role in the conflict.

Recognize the role your inner parts play and then relax back into your True Self. Ask yourself: what would my true/highest self say about how I am acting right now? What do I need to change/adjust in order to act intentionally with my truest self? Your parts may lose the argument, but your True Self stays undefeated!

4. Focus on healing

You will never lose another argument if you see your conflicts with your partner as conflicts between your inner emotional wounds and their inner emotional wounds.

Most of our emotional wounds have their roots in childhood and over the years we all have developed strategies for protecting these wounds and preventing further wounding.

When we get triggered or emotionally activated in a conflict, we can take notice, step back, and focus on what needs to be healed. There is no winning and losing from this higher perspective; the only thing that matters is healing.        

5. Come back to the big picture

Ask yourself if your relationship is more important than winning this conflict. If your relationship is more highly valued, then winning and losing don’t matter.

Lifelong, committed relationships can’t be built solely on love, agreement, and similarity–at least if both partners are going to stay true to themselves. It also takes renewed commitment. Try using your conflicts and disagreements as an opportunity to renew your commitment to each other and the family as a whole. Turn the spotlight away from the conflict and onto your shared commitment to your family.

Enjoying this article? Subscribe to the Yes Collective for more expert emotional wellness just for parents.

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