Most couples argue some. Some couples argue a lot. Differences of opinion are pretty normal between any two people. Just look at Facebook if you want to see a variety of opinions! To differ is okay. But what is important is how differences of opinion are shared and, hopefully, resolved in a peaceful and reasonable manner.

Dr. John Gottman, probably the foremost relationship expert in the United States, maintains that the strongest predictor of whether or not a relationship will succeed or fail lies in the way a couple deals with conflict. The following is a list of eleven ways that happy couples argue effectively. Read on! These couples:

1. Commit to dealing with the problem. Some people are conflict avoidant, thus problems are not addressed within a reasonable time and, thus, will fester and deepen the divide between a couple. Both partners must be fully committed to tackling their problems.

2. Attack the problem, not the person. Keep the focus on the issue to be resolved. Don’t take out your frustrations on the other person. The relationship is more important than being right or “winning”.

3. Practice intentional listening. Tune in to the other person. Put aside distractions and be fully and respectfully present.

4. Encourage honesty and transparency in communication. Make the other person feel safe so that s/he can be totally open with thoughts and feelings.

5. Get all the facts. Too often people jump to conclusions and react without knowing all the facts. Be sure the issue and concerns are truly understood before going off in the wrong direction.

6. List all the options. Approach your relationship problem just as you would do with one at work. Be objective, look at all the options, and work it through.

7. Choose your best solution together. Remember, you are a team and a team solution needs to be resolved to minimize any residual hurt or angry feelings. Look for win-win outcomes.

8. Look at the positives. It is easy in an argument to start focusing on the negative. What can you learn from this situation? How can you grow from this conflict so that perhaps the next time there will be less need for arguing.

9. Let the other person save face. If you happen to be “right” do not embarrass or rub it in to your partner. That would be disrespectful and motivate your partner to detach from you.

10. Never withhold love. Love is the single most potent change agent. Keep it present in the relationship. Again, the relationship is more important than any issue you may be arguing over. Life is about priorities!

11. One more tip. When you are about to argue about something that could get quite heated, turn on your phone recorder. People speak more rationally and respectfully when they know they are being recorded.

Well, Respected Reader, do you have all this down? You may want to cut this out or make a copy to put on the refrigerator when you may need some assistance in arguing productively!

Dr. Stathas can be reached at 706-473-1780. Email: Web site: Blog:

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