Sick of fighting? You might need some better communication tools (Picture: Getty/iStockphoto)
Arguing with your other half is normal – it can even be healthy.
Finding a way to vent your frustration, air your grievances, and find a solution is an important part of being in a relationship, and it can help you to grow.
But how do you know if you’re arguing too frequently, or if your disagreements are a sign of a bigger issue? Well, experts say that if it’s happening all the time – you may need to think about changing something more fundamental.
The pandemic has reshaped our relationships in unprecedented ways, forcing many of us to live closer due to hybrid working. Post-Covid, there has been a rise in the number of couples seeking therapy, and 22% of people in the UK admit that they have some form of conflict with their partner each month.
‘It’s how you deal with arguments that matters,’ says Chris Pleines, a dating expert from Dating Scout.
‘The best thing to do is respect each other’s opinion. This doesn’t mean you have to change your opinion. You’re still two individuals. Discuss it calmly and intelligently. If it can’t be settled at that moment, go to bed, and discuss in the morning.’
Here are Chris’s key tips to help couples argue less frequently:
Communication is key
‘Communication is vital in a relationship as it allows you to talk openly about your needs and wants,’ Chris says.
Without communication, Chris says it’s easy to become upset and frustrated which will lead to more arguments and resentment.
‘Taking your frustration and anger to bed can cause you to over analyse the situation and blow the argument out of proportion,’ he adds.
‘Make sure to voice your opinions before bed and listen to what your partner has to say and find a compromise so that both your needs are being met.’
Sleeping separately is a last resort
If you are struggling to get any sleep because of your partner’s sleeping habits, a common solution is to sleep in separate rooms, or separate beds. Chris says this can be an effective tactic.
‘Sleeping apart may greatly enhance your relationship as it can improve your sleep quality which will in turn, improve your wellbeing and your relationship,’ he says.
‘Sleeping in separate beds may also have a positive impact on intimacy because you will feel less fatigue after a good night’s sleep, and you may be more invested in spending more time with your partner. It is important that you and your partner make a concerted effort to spend some quality time together before going to sleep.’
However, Chris adds that sleeping separately may not work for everyone.
‘Sleeping away from your partner means not only are you physically apart, but also spiritually and mentally,’ he says.
‘Sleeping separately means that there will be fewer opportunities for intimacy which could create greater distance between you and your partner.
‘So, rather than resorting to sperate beds, or even separate bedrooms, sit down with your partner for a frank discussion, and find a sleeping schedule that suits you both.’
Disagreements are healthy, arguments less so
Chris explains that disagreements are part and parcel in any relationship.
‘Experts agree relationship conflict can be healthy as it serves as an opportunity to learn more about your partner and grow stronger together as a couple,’ he adds.
‘Disagreements may be less heated than an argument which will lead to the conflict diffusing quicker and therefore more constructive.’
However, arguments are more volatile – Chris says this is because the emotion may be coming from a place where there is intended hurt and anger.
‘In the heat of an argument, you may say something spiteful that you may regret,’ he says. ‘It’s important to come to an agreement on how to argue best. Understand your partner’s boundaries, try not to raise your voice, and communicate in a respectful manner.’
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Discuss issues calmly and rationally
‘How you speak to your partner is important,’ says Chris.
‘Make sure to discuss your concerns in a calm and respectful way which will minimise further aggravation and lead to a more open and constructive conversation.’
If a disagreement is getting heated, Chris says it may be useful to take some time to have a walk, sit in a different room, and collect your thoughts to make sure you are in a calm mindset.
‘Try to avoid having disagreements after drinking alcohol because it can elicit emotions and lower inhibitions potentially leading to bigger arguments,’ adds Chris.
‘If a situation begins to escalate make sure to take deep breaths. Breathing exercises can lower blood pressure, stress, and lower cortisol, relax tight muscles, and bring back clarity to the senses.
‘It will allow a few seconds to pause and will break the tension.’
Be prepared to compromise
Chris says: ‘Compromise is crucial in a relationship as it fosters trust, security, and accountability. It shows your partner that you respect them enough and are invested in growing together as a couple.
‘A healthy relationship should affirm both of your wants and needs.’
What to do if sleep causes arguments
Snoring can damage the quality of shuteye you get, interfering with REM sleep and preventing you from feeling fully rested. It can also lead to resentment between partners, as the lack of sleep makes patience nigh-on impossible.
Temporary solutions can include earplugs, white noise machines, and even sleeping in separate beds. But if the problem persists, it may be worth consulting a doctor or sleep therapist, who’ll identify any underlying issues such as sleep apnoea or sinusitis.
What time to go to sleep
This can be extremely disruptive in a relationship because if you hit the hay early, only to be disturbed by your partner turning in in the early hours, your sleep is going to suffer, potentially leading to arguments in relationships.
It’s important to have an open-minded conversation with your partner to find a sleeping schedule that suits you both. If you can, coordinate your sleep schedules, setting a time to be in bed and agree on an alarm time in the morning, ensuring it’s consistent.
If you have conflicting work schedules have an open conversation about how you can be mindful not to wake up your partner, and try solutions such as ear plugs, black out blinds, and white noise. On weekends or days off make sure to have a conversation with your partner to align your sleep schedules, as this will allow you to enjoy more quality time together.
TV, tablets and phones
Smartphones and tablets emit light that can damage our sleep, (not to mention noise) so, using them immediately before bed can be risky. And while one partner may be willing to take the risk, another may not: setting the stage for an argument.
To avoid this conflict before bed, make sure to set ground rules on devices in the bedroom. For example, you may implement a ‘no devices after lights out’ policy, or request that your partner wears headphones whilst watching something on TV.
You may even choose to ban all devices from the bedroom, making it a place for sleep and intimacy only. We did it before devices. And we can do it again.
Share of the duvet
Share of your duvet (or lack thereof) is a surprisingly common argument starter. It may sound trivial, but this is a huge factor in inducing sleep. Our level of duvet coverage links directly to our night-time temperature, which massively factors into the quality of sleep we get.
An easy solution to this disagreement, is to have a duvet each: known as the ‘Scandinavian Method’. You and your partner can select a duvet that suits your temperature needs, allows you to snuggle or discard the duvet at will, and banish common arguments over cover-hogging.
Intimacy is tricky. There’s never a ‘right’ time to discuss it, and, for some, discussing it at all can lead to conflict. But with sex most often being desired or expected at bedtime, it can become a trigger for late-night arguments in relationships. For example, couples cite sexual compatibility and frequency of lovemaking as chief argument starters.
Given the potentially inflammatory topic – everyone feels vulnerable when talking about sex – it’s crucial to engage in honest, open conversation when discussing sexual preferences.
Open communication about sex makes a relationship stronger, If you want more from your partner sexually, be honest and go and tell them. Be clear, concise, and positive. Not critical.
So, whether you’re talking about trying something new, or seeking a way to balance individual sex drives, transparency is key. Set aside time to talk and be considerate of your partner’s feelings.
Sleep experts at Dormeo
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