Marriage and Couples Counseling – “Shifting the Anatomy of an Argument”

This comes from our work with couples and families. All couples and families argue and many of them have tried different things but they seem to talk about and discuss the same argument over and over. Seeing we do couples and family counseling often we have created and suggested shaking things up.  Here are some of our thoughts, interventions and ideas!

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1.  Schedule and Time Your Argument: Do you argue often with your significant other?  Why not set a certain time aside and commit everyday to arguing for a set amount of time. Crazy you think, but why not, you are most likely to do it anyway?

If you feel like arguing earlier put it off until the time you agreed upon, save everything you want to argue about until the time comes. If you set time to argue every evening at 7pm for 20 minutes then do it, diligently.  If you run out of things to argue about keep arguing until the time is up.  When the time is up, stop and resume same time tomorrow or whatever days and times you choose.

2.  Relocate: Take your argument to a different place.  If you always argue in the bedroom why not jump in the shower and continue to argue, perhaps the library, grocery store, stand on opposite ends of the garage facing the wall,  turn back to back and keep arguing…

3. Get Close: get really close! For this one I suggest hugging each other and continuing to argue or wrap yourselves into a sleeping bag and carry on.

One of my favorite stories is from my friend Kim.  When she was a child her mother ingeniously created a consequence that yielded amazing results.  In order to “punish” her for being mean to her younger brother her mother used to make her and her brother sit in front of one another indian style and hold hands.  Kim was so disgusted by her brother’s “puppy dog smell” being mean to her brother didn’t last long.

4. Communicate in a Different Way: Does speaking add fire to the argument? Why not write it out or type out your argument?  It will shift and change the anatomy of the argument.  Want to make some fun out of your argument how about playing “Wheel of Fortune” or Hangman with what you want to communicate to your significant other.  There are many ways to communicate differently.  Feel free to add your creative ideas by leaving a comment for other to read.

5.  Record It:  This is a juicy one, only for the brave!  You get to see, explore, examine how you really behave and act when you are upset.  Go grab your phone, a voice recorder, a video camera, etc and record your next argument then when you are calm and can listen from an objective point of view play it back to explore patterns of behavior, themes, etc.

by Katie Lemieux

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