Arguments are going to happen– it is just that simple. Arguments happen in all relationships, and surely spending 24/7 with your spouse indoors is not going to help that. There are many ways to prevent arguments from happening, however, this article is going to focus on how to how to handle an argument better while in quarantine.
First Things First, Consider Establishing Some Ground Rules Prior To An Argument Happening
You will not be able to prevent all fights, but you can learn how to fight fair. A great tip I have learned over the years is that you need to have rules on how to fight. Just like you wouldn’t play a game without knowing the rules, you shouldn’t fight with your partner without knowing the rules. Here are some examples:
- No name-calling
- No bringing up “X” from the past
- The second someone calls for a break, you break
- Set a specific time limit to address an issue
You can also set ‘penalties’ for breaking the rules, but keep them light-hearted.
“Cooling Off Tactics” and Other Tips to Utilize During an Argument
It is important to come up with ways to down-regulate and regain perspective when you find you or your partner getting flooded or overwhelmed during an argument. Below are some different ways to get a break in the negative energy when you find yourself in a fight.
Designate a “Safe Space” to Cool Off When Things Get Heated
When cabin fever kicks it, stress can escalate. It can feel like there is no way to escape your partner at this time. Come up with a ‘safe place’ you can go to when things get to heated. Your safe place could be the patio, the guest room, or maybe even a walk around the neighborhood. Come up with a place you can go with no distractions to break the energy with your partner. This way when you come back to talk, you both will feel a release of tension (and make sure you only come back after you have truly cooled off).
If You Can, Get Your Partner to Agree to Argue on a Walk
This may sound silly, but arguing on a walk is a lot more difficult than arguing in your kitchen. By getting out of the house, you will be able to soak up some vitamin D, breath some fresh air, and get in some exercise- increasing blood flow and maybe even some endorphins. In addition, going for a walk will just create a change of pace and scenery.
Come Up with An Activity for When You’re Flooded
Try to come up with an activity to help de-regulate when you get flooded. Avoid social media social media as that outlet. Consider Apps on your phone like DuoLingo, Elevate, or other games that keep your mind working. Choose something that is easily accessible that you can resort to quickly when you need to take a break, but that will not keep you from reengaging in the conversation after you have a chance to mentally and emotionally reset.
Take a Deep Breath (or a Few)
No one is going anywhere (other than maybe that safe place mentioned above) so now is the time to cope with arguments in the moment. The power of breath is an amazing thing. Get your partner on the same page, and both of you, regardless if you feel flooded or not, take a deep breath, or three, or four. Getting more fresh oxygen to the brain allows the brain to process information better, and can help you regulate emotions better.
Take a Quick Break to Do a “Mini Self-Assessment”
It never helps to add some self-awareness into the argument. Take a minute to ask yourself how you both got into the argument, how your actions contributed to the argument, and what the underlying feelings of your frustrations are. Ask yourself when the last time you ate was, or if your frustration is a result of a lack of good sleep. Lastly, make sure that while expressing your concerns and frustrations to your spouse, you are not forgetting to hear their concerns and frustrations.
When All Else Fails, Turn on the TV
Although ignoring problems is not going to make them all go away, there is a good chance in quarantine they just may. There are many issues that simply arise from feeling too close to our loved ones, or perhaps from the pressure of being in constant communication and interaction with them. That is okay, this time is an adjustment for everyone. Next time you and your partner get into an argument, consider waiving the white flag and turning on your favorite movie or TV show to give both of you a break from the constant interactions, while still allowing you to enjoy one another’s company.