Few days ago I wrote a post where I shared the idea that I have chosen to operate from to avoid arguments.
The idea is that my wife and I are on the same boat or the same (relation)ship so arguing with my (relation)ship mate can only cause the (relation)ship to sink even further.
Well, while this idea is nice on paper, there are times in which heated arguments do happen in my relationship and the ship metaphor flies out of the window.
Usually I am hardly the one who initiates the argument, as I am a rather peaceful person.
My wife comes from a culture where people are a little more mainit ang ulo or hot-tempered than the average Westerner so arguments do take place despite my best intentions.
LEAVE THE SCENE IF POSSIBLE
It has been said that it takes two people to have an argument so an easy way to avoid arguing would be removing myself from the situation and going somewhere else to wait for the storm to pass.
But, as it has also been nicely said, sometimes you cannot avoid the storm and you have to learn how to dance in the rain.
There are many circumstances in which I cannot simply leave the scene of the argument and I have to face my wife’s upset head on.
Because, as I said, Filipinos are very emotional they easily and quickly jump to wrong conclusions if I come across in a way that triggers their emotions so it happens quite often that I do or say things that are not inherently wrong or offensive but come across as such.
My natural tendency was to prove myself right and my wife wrong by defending and justifying so the argument would go on forever.
I have discovered two very effective ways to deal with my wife’s strong emotions and face her upset head on when there is no possibility to run away from it by going somewhere else.
JUST LISTEN WITHOUT DEFENDING OR JUSTIFYING
Arguments occur when she attacks and I defend or counterattack instead of just listening.
If I try to clarify what my wife said and immediately respond to her no one is listening and what we are doing is that we are arguing, even if I may have good intentions for trying to clarify.
I have noticed that if she attacks and I abstain from defending myself and making her wrong and just allow her to let off all of her steam I can aikido her lashing out.
The art of aikido is a martial art that consists of rendering the “opponent” harmless.
So by abstaining from responding I am creating an environment where the anger fizzles out instead of going on forever.
I just allow her to vent without interrupting. It doesn’t matter if I am right and she has completely misinterpreted my behavior. I just allow her to let off steam until she eventually stops. I don’t need to physically remove myself from the situation, I just kind of aikido her anger.
APOLOGIZE FOR THE IMPACT
However there are circumstances in which she won’t stop arguing until I have given her an answer.
In this case the best strategy is to apologize for the impact, not for what I did wrong, if I am convinced I was right, but rather for how I have come across to her. In Tagalog that would be “sori para sa dating sa iyo” (“I am sorry for COMING ACROSS that way”).
I must admit that sometimes that doesn’t work either because it sounds to her as a form of subtle blame, as if I were trying to say “it is not my fault, it is yours because I did or said the right thing but you misperceived it.
SOMETIMES ARGUMENTS OCCUR NO MATTER WHAT YOU DO
So, whenever my wife feels the urge to argue I try, if possible, to go somewhere else.
If this is not possible or practical, I try to aikido the argument by either trying to listen without interrupting or trying to let her know that I am sorry for my impact.
But there are times in which no one of these things work.
I cannot leave the scene because she wants to talk, I cannot just let her vent because she wants an answer and if I apologize for the impact she says that it was not just the impact but I did indeed say or do things with the wrong motive.
So what I have learned is that eliminating arguments for good is not possible in an intimate relationship.
The reality is that arguments do occur no matter what I try to do.
But what I can do is do the best I can to minimize them and, over the past five years, arguments have drastically diminished in my relationship.
I am aware of the fact that my wife comes from a culture where the average Filipino is more emotional than the average Westerner so I remind myself that she is doing what she knows how to do given the environment she grew up in.
I would love to be in a relationship in which there are no arguments and I would love to ditch arguments for good but this is not possible.
But I am happy because, by applying the methods I have mentioned in this post, I have been able to minimize arguments a lot and contribute to create an amazing environment in my love life.