Fact: All couples argue.
Fact: All couples argue about the stupidest stuff AND really important life decisions and how they’ll impact the life you’re (hopefully) building together.
Question: How do you practice mindfulness in an argument with your significant other?***
***Especially when you have a hot temper and your arguing style is on complete polar opposites of the spectrum.
In case you haven’t picked up on it yet, I’m the one with the short fuse and my S.O. is the one who’s got the calm, thoughtful, rational way of arguing. I fly off the handle and he will sit quietly staring at me waiting for me to stop acting like a banshee so that he can begin his painstaking over-explanation of his point of view until we’ve beaten the dead horse, dug it back up, and beat it again.
Needless to say, we are rather different people when we argue and well beyond that, but this is also the very reason why we work – we balance each other.
As I thought more about this delicate balance and how important it is to keep, I thought about how mindfulness practice needs to extend and permeate into the way I argue or confront my S.O.
Having a temper is counterproductive to being mindful–it doesn’t exactly allow for calm, collected, kind discussions to happen. But herein lies the challenge: to be mindful in an argument, you have to be able to step away from that person you’ve become that’s reeling from frustration and practice some compassion and active listening towards your partner.
More often than not, the argument that is happening has very little to do with the thing that started it (for example [yes, this actually happened]: whether or not you believe in expiration dates on food or you think they’re just general “suggestions”).
Here’s where I’ve started:
- Don’t react in the moment–try and observe your emotions. Are they really stemming from the expiration date on milk or is there something deeper?
- Take yourself out of the catastrophe to give yourself space to articulate calmly your feelings and emotions when you’re ready.
- Don’t dismiss your partner’s feelings or yours in the heat of the moment. This means being patient and this is really hard.
Mindful living means that we must lead with this practice in every aspect of our lives. Perhaps, as a pleasant consequence, arguments will be less over spoiled milk (#noreally) and more about the things that truly matter.