Anatomy of an Argument: Step 3 - Find the Understandable Part

In our series about the anatomy of an argument, we have discussed focusing on your own reactions and avoiding a judgmental attitude. Here is step three:

Finding the understandable part of your partner’s argument can be difficult, especially when you are entrenched in your position.  ‘Find the understandable part’ does not mean agreeing with their view or accepting it as the right one.  It simply means that each of you have legitimate reason for your beliefs.  

Here’s a little example.  My husband and I were having a discussion over a new car I was about to lease.  I can’t even remember the whole fight, and it was a doozy, but the part that I will never forget it this:  at the end of the argument he revealed that he had felt shamed over a certain action I had taken.  The action was telling his mom something I had promised not to but I thought it was so insignificant that I totally forgot, it was an accident.  The argument ended as soon as I understood what had happened for him.  

Don’t let yourself dig your heels in so deep that you refuse to acknowledge the other’s experience.  This will get you nowhere.  You need to find reasons for their actions and beliefs and they need to do the same for you.  This is a 50/50 deal on both sides.  

Consider these scenarios:

  • A terrible day at work, so she comes home already upset
  • Not all pertinent information was given so details are left out
  • One person thinks a word has one meaning and the other thinks something completely different
  • His mind went to the worst case scenario inventing things you never meant or said
  • The issue is likely to be more important to one of you - sometimes it’s nice to give in if you don’t      care that much
  • Our priorities often differ, so try to keep in mind what is important to one won’t be so important to the other
  • Perhaps one of you had felt belittled or dismissed recently

Next time an argument with your partner arises, do your very best to find the understandable part.  Get out of your own way and really look at their point of view and ask yourself if they are truly wrong.  If you loosen up on these issues, your partner is likely to do the same!  Feel free to respond with situations of your own and what you did to work through them with Step 3 in mind!

Please call and make an appointment for couples counseling or couples counseling for one. We look forward to teaching you how to fight fair!