The Real Housewives of Potomac's Candiace Dillard Bassett may still be struggling to communicate with her mother, but she has learned quite a bit based on how she now argues with her husband, Chris Bassett. In The Real Housewives of Potomac After Show (clip above), Candiace says she doesn't "like to table things," which is actually a very good approach to settling a spat, much like not going to bed angry with each other, or walking away and letting things fester.
"We are mastering the art of a marital argument and a lot of it is compromising and just sitting back and saying 'OK' or 'you’re right' on both sides," Candiace explained. "I have a hard time with that."
Meanwhile, her husband, Chris said that, in relationships with him and her mother, she needs "to be able to see the other side [and that] there is middle ground."
Their description of the art of the argument they've discovered is actually very similar to the concept of unilateral disarmament. Psychology Today explains this as "momentarily dropping your side of the debate and approaching your partner from a more loving stance."
If you're faced with similar situations as home, here are the steps it recommends to get your fights back on track, and resolved much quicker and easier.
Yes, we realize the hardest thing to do is relax when someone is telling you to relax, but if you feel yourself getting heated at your partner (or parent, friend, boss, etc.), take a pause before responding. Try taking five deep breaths or counting slowly backward from 10.
2. Don’t lash back.
Psychology Today also advises not to take any bait and not to focus on “being right” or winning. Chris pointed that out in one of their conversations where Candiace was complaining about her mom: “This is the same stuff I tell you when we argue. When you don’t agree with something I say, [you say], ‘No I’m right, this is how it is.’”
If you find this happening with you, stop and consider your words and your feelings. Without accusations toward your partner, explain where you are coming from and what you are feeling (using the first person), without thinking about the argument as a win or loss, or assigning blame of who's right or wrong (using the third person).
3. Respond warmly.
In the moment, when you're feeling anything but warm, "try to listen to your partner’s feelings, irrational as they may seem to you in that moment. Then, say something in a tone that is warm and understanding."
Often, both parties may be feeling the same frustration that he or she is not being heard — it's important to be genuine and this could even be as simple as letting them know that you hear them, you love them, and you want to figure this out as a team.
Put yourself in your partner’s shoes and acknowledge how they are feeling, even if you don't agree or fully understand. “It’s important to note that the technique of unilateral disarmament does not imply that you are surrendering your point of view, giving in to emotional manipulation, taking the blame, or deferring to your partner’s opinion. It simply indicates that you value being close to your partner more than winning your specific point.“
5. Communicate how you feel.
PT recommends a “name it to tame it” technique, which means you label your feelings to help actually calm them down. “The first step is to tune in to what you are actually feeling in the moment. You can then acknowledge or share with your partner what is going on for you and how you saw the situation.”
If all else fails — or you forget the steps above — Dr. Gottman and Dr. Murray, authors of The Mathematics of Marriage: Dynamic Nonlinear Models, explained to Wall Street Journal, "If they were to boil down their work to one simple strategy for couples, it might be this: Face each other when talking. And acknowledge your role in the dispute.”
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