How to stop arguing in a relationship, from a couples expert

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  • New stats show lockdown has added three years to couples relationships

    It’s no secret that the last few years has taken its toll on even the strongest of partnerships (yes, even those with a spare bedroom and access to the best sex toys for couples).

    New research from Groupon has found that two fifths of couples living together admit that the months of lockdown felt more like years with their other halves. Working with mathematician and Cambridge doctorate candidate Bobby Seagull, they created a formula which calculates the number of ‘lockdown years’ added to relationships, taking into consideration:

    • The increased time together in the home
    • The lack of socialising with friends
    • The boredom factor of being stuck in the same place.

    You probably won’t be surprised to hear the results – that the pandemic has added three years to couples relationships. Couples are spending more time together, but arguing more and really sweating the small stuff, too.

    If that rings true with you, our expert-led guide to how to stop arguing might just be the help you need. Keep reading for guidance from a relationship expert, plus the easiest ways to safeguard your relationship, if lockdown has been an added strain.

    So, why are couples arguing more RN? 

    According to relationship expert Sarah Louise Ryan, because you’re having to navigate massive changes and face challenges you won’t have had to confront before. “It’s also true that when people are stressed, you often take things out on those who are closest to you. It doesn’t make it right, but it’s often the go-to,” she goes on.

    Plus, there’s no doubt that if you’re spending a lot of time together while still WFH, it may have brought to the surface the smaller niggles. “Every relationship has them, but the pandemic has probably heightened them,” shares Ryan. Think issues over chores, untidiness or sharing the weight of domestic responsibilities. Basically, you and your partner are likely ‘sweating the smaller stuff’ more than you usually would. With no time to escape or see other people, this can feel very intense.

    Is it normal to be arguing more right now?

    Short answer? Yes. “It’s still a really a surreal time, with no end in site, and we just don’t know what’s going to come up for us emotionally and mentally,” she explains. “Many are feeling stressed, anxious and perhaps a little ‘pressure-cookeresque’ due to the uncertainty of our current situation.”

    Arguments often happen as a result of emotions like this, she goes on. Some may be feeling trauma after this year, some even experiencing PTSD. Feeling stressed is fine, but regularly channeling that into arguments won’t be good in the long run. “Try find a different and more constructive outlet than arguing,” Ryan advises. “It’s just energy better spent.”

    Top tip: We all argue sometimes, but do try, where possible, to talk things through amicably, or take a bit of time to reflect on how best to discuss things with each other.

    How to stop arguing in a relationship: 8 tips from a relationship pro

    Keen to connect and communicate better, plus have deeper and more meaningfully conversations with your partner? Scroll for are Ryan’s top tips.

    1. Remember that your partner is your best friend

    “So seek to treat them like that,” Ryan recommends. She advises thinking about what words you use with other friends, focusing on the foundations of your friendship, and going from there. “That way, you can remember you are both on the same team,” she shares.

    2. Take a birds-eye view of the situation

    Remember you are not alone with how you are feeling.” There is light at the end of the tunnel, so try to focus on that.”

    3. Start to plan towards the future

    This one’s great for giving you both something positive to plan towards. “Note down the things on your bucket lists and plan fun and exciting experiences for post-lockdown life,” Ryan shares. “This will help bring the playfulness back into your relationship.”

    4. Time apart is time well spent

    Remember, for many, you’ve spent the best part of the last year solely in each others company. “Start to consider your separateness as a means to reconnect,” Ryan says. She reckons working separately and planning things to do for yourself post-pandemic can help spark that flame of desire and intrigue with one another once again.

    5. Plan monthly date nights

    Stuck for date night ideas? Look no further – we’ve got you covered. “Plan some of the little things you used to love to do and then use them as an opportunity to get dressed up and feel good,” the expert advises.

    6. Learn your love languages

    Knowing how you both communicate your love and care for one another is crucial to understanding your relationship. “It could be acts of kindness, gift giving, words of affirmation, being tactile or even just spending quality time together.”

    7. Get to grips with your communication styles in conflict

    Important question, if you’re arguing all the time and none of the above has helped. Are you both really willing to be wrong in order to ensure your relationship is kept on the right path?

    8. Nurture your relationship as a third entity

    This one’s important. “Look after your partner, look after yourself but also both together look after your relationship,” Ryan recommends.

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