3 Themes to Avoid in Any Argument

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There is no perfect person, as there are no perfect couples or perfect relationships. You can only work with what you have, and try to make it better.

I learned this lesson by observing a lot of couples, whether they were my own parents or other people’s parents, my aunts and uncles or my friends. Couples can and do fight, and a couple that never fights is more the exception than the rule. Moreover, fighting doesn’t mean that couples will break up soon. It’s the senseless fighting that leads to trouble.

So what is senseless fighting, and when does an argument become dangerous? Arguing is normal, but it has to be constructive. Even if there is shouting or growling involved – and hopefully no furniture throwing! – there should be an aim to set things straight. An argument should help strengthen a relationship, not end it.

If you’ve been in arguments before, you’ll notice that there are things that you don’t like to hear. There might also be things that you like to say, but could actually be damaging to you and/or your partner. Here are a few themes that you should avoid when arguing.

Universal condemnation: You Always or You Never

I’ve heard these arguments a lot: “You always leave the toilet seat up.” “You never listen to me.” “You’re always out with your friends.” “You never kiss me in front of your parents.”

These universal condemnations aren’t just illogical: they’re exactly that. They’re condemnations. They label your partner as a perpetual idiot or insensitive person who does not know any better.

But what about those times that your partner cleaned the toilet? The times your partner actually sat down and listened to you? The times that you hung out together? The times that your partner showered you with affection no matter who else was present? These are the memories that should hold you together, and they are the ones that you should keep in mind before you condemn your partner.

Blast from the past: The last time this happened…

Here’s another argument that I hear often, “The last time we argued, you didn’t pay attention to me for days! And before that, you didn’t clean the house! And before that, you were always talking to your friends on the phone! And then before that…”

You get the picture: the current argument is getting buried under a blast from the past. But there’s a reason that the past has gone: it’s over and done with, and you shouldn’t pay attention to the past. You should instead focus on the future and what you can do to make things better.

By focusing on the past, you are telling your partner two things: you’re not the type who can move on from anything, so that you simply keep on bearing grudges and licking your wounds; and you scrutinize him or her for everything that he or she does. It is this air of stagnation and criticism that can ruin a relationship completely.

The Fallacy Overload: from Tu Quoque to Argumentum ad Misericordiam

I studied debate in high school, and I was unaware of how well it could be applied to life in general until I came across various fallacies and sample arguments.

Tu quoque is Latin for “You, too,” and it comes out a lot. “What do you mean I don’t do the dishes? You didn’t do them last week, either!”

Argumentum ad misericordiam is Latin for “An argument for misery,” and it’s often seen as a “guilt card.” “How can you say that about me? I’m always working, I don’t get any sleep, and I haven’t eaten a proper meal in days!”

Argumentum ad hominem is Latin for “An argument for the man,” and it comes out as a string of insults. “I didn’t take out the trash? Well, you’re a lazy, no-good idiot who has oatmeal for brains!”

What do all these fallacies have in common? They attack a person instead of addressing the current argument. It’s a common trap that we all fall into when we’re extremely emotional, and when we aren’t thinking straight because of the stress brought on by the argument.

These are just a few themes to avoid when arguing. Remember, an argument has to build you together as a couple. Avoid condemning, bringing up old issues, and attacking the person rather than the argument. If you can both weather the argument, you’ll end up stronger.

Blog Post Photo Attribution by: Gideon Wright

Inez Ponce de Leon loves to write, do research, read books, and give advice on a variety of topics. She loves to talk about culture, relationships, and even choosing a good brain supplement. When she has free time, she does research on brain function supplements, science communication, and Middle Eastern dance. If you’re always getting into arguments maybe you’d benefit from a calming supplement. Learn more about them here http://brainenhancingsupplements.com.

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