Some thoughts I would like you to think about in regard to couples:
Six simple rules for avoiding an argument becoming negative are as follows:
1) Don’t hide from the problem, but don’t dive straight into it either. Timing is important when looking to have a constructive discussion–that is why an arranged marriage counseling session is such a great option. Whatever happens it’s a bad idea to start a debate when one partner is at a disadvantage, such as after a bad day at work or after a sleepless night.
2) Never call the other partner names or hit below the belt. This is incredibly destructive and will serve only to set you both back.
3) Involving others is also a no-no; especially friends and children. They will feel extremely awkward, and it’s only going to create negativity. A controlled environment is essential with no interruptions.
4) An argument can only be constructive when conducted with mutual respect, interest, concern and participation. Questions should be asked of each other but at an emotive level more than a practical level, don’t demand answers like yes or no. The point is to be open and discuss the issue, not ‘win’.
5) Don’t criticize personality or character – try to keep it centered about the specific problem in hand. Calling someone idle, lazy, self-centered or such is very negative. Instead, keep focused on the matter at hand.
6) Keep to the topic and don’t change the subject. If there’s other debates to be had that aren’t part to do with this one, they can wait in turn. Bringing in multiple events will clutter and confuse the path to a satisfactory conclusion.
There’s much more to making an argument positive, but these are some basic tenants that will help from the very beginning. If a couple can learn to understand how these negative methods of conflict can be overcome and realize the benefits of constructive, open debate then the relationship will invariably become stronger, as a result. Marriage counseling is a way to get better at dealing with conflict – why not give it a try?
Dr. Kraft has over three decades of counseling experience, more than 25 of those as a practicing therapist in Omaha. Beyond this experience, he’s also continued his education through workshops and conferences to keep up with the best research and therapeutic methods. A recognized expert in his field, he teaches seminars to marriage counseling professionals.
Dr. Kraft earned his doctorate, as well as his bachelors & masters before that, from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. On top of being a therapist in Omaha, he is an Associate Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the Creighton University School of Medicine, where he teaches residents about psychotherapy, and attends ongoing training to stay current in the field.