How to have a healthy argument
I am a middle aged widow with two grown children. 2 years ago I began a relationship with a lovely man who was coming off a fairly recent separation. His former partner was emotionally and financially abusive to him during the course of their marriage and he has endured a long and expensive fight to have regular access to his children and settle their property. Through it all I have witnessed horrendous behaviour from his ex and can understand why he has developed the desire to avoid confrontation.
The problem is that he views any awkward conversation as confrontation and will be brutal in shutting down a conversation. I think that I am reasonably self aware of my faults and know that I will get hold of a problem and worry it to death until I have sorted it out in my head, however my partner's approach to avoiding issues is turning me into a nagging, obsessed crazy woman. Obviously something has to give when there is a problem and invariably it is me blowing my stack in spectacular fashion at which point he will eventually respond but by then he's also upset and angry and we both say things that we regret and unsuprisingly nothing is resolved.
Adding to the pressure is his recent appointed time with his children - he started late so they are still junior school age. He has been given 50/50 custody and we have been thrown into a week on, week off arrangement very suddenly. Subsequently we have gone from a relatively new, loved up couple to an overnight family who have forgotten our relationship in the shuffle to try to be a family.
How do I get someone who loathes confrontation to have a discussion before it becomes an explosive situation? How do we get our relationship back on track? And how do I control my behaviour, both the nagging and the explosive temper when I have been forced to bottle up something that I consider is a problem and warrants a discussion? How do I get my partner to understand that in shutting down these conversations he is actually pushing me into behaving in a way that is foreign to me and is really unhealthy.
If he’s not long been separated from his ex then he's bound to be suffering still especially If there was control and things were made difficult. It’s useful to you that you have witnessed his ex’s behaviour because that shows you what he had to deal with. There is probably a lot of stress and anxiety attached and maybe he needs to have some counselling?
Also you've had to adjust too coz suddenly you have gained a family with two young kids and that would take a lot of getting used as well and it must be different for them too.
It’s important to discuss any issues you have as a couple and there are going to be other times where he’s going to have confrontation or awkward conversation with not just yourself but others too. That part of life.
It’s good to know your own faults as well as the positive things about you, some people don’t like admitting to them. If you feel like your getting really angry then maybe write it down before you say it to him and think about how you could say it differently? And when do you pick the right moment to talk about things with him? I know I can be bossy so I always think about how to say things before I speak. I would tell him you realise how he’s feeling at the moment but there are some things you would like to talk about. Doesn’t have to be a full blown argument but a discussion so that you feel you are heard and not shut down.
Man, when you figure out how to have a productive argument without any real threats, you could write a book.
I believe you can have a positive and productive discussion with anyone if you understand what is most important in the argument. Will it be to win the argument or to maintain a healthy relationship with the other person? A healthy relationship doesn't always mean "giving in", but it could. You can do both, but that will probably be a learned behavior from practice.
While you are practicing, I think the Golden Rule would be a very good element here....."Do unto others as you would have them do to you." How do you want to be treated? It sounds like he is non-confrontational so don't confront him. However, confronting does not mean not approaching or discussing the issue. It means approaching someone in a non-threating manner. It may mean using relecting questions such as "What do you think would happen if............." or "Have you thought about trying..........".
This may not eliminate every heated discussion but it will be an excellent example of human relations in front of his children.