Are you feeling trapped when being in an argument with loved ones?

A husband initiated to go for a movie after returning home from work. His wife was not motivated to go out and said she just want to stay home.  The husband felt disappointed when his wife refused to go out with him. They started to accuse each other for being inconsiderate and both parties became quite angry. Does this scenario familiar to you? It seems that once we are involving in a conversation of disagreement, we are trapped and continue to say things that causing hurtful feelings to the other party. What can we do to prevent being trapped in this kind of conversation and resolve the conflict?

First of all, it is important that we are being aware that we are trapped in the argument.  We may observe our bodily sensations, feelings and behaviours during the conversation. For example, the husband may be aware that he started to feel hot in his face and tense in his chest. The wife may start to bring up past evidence of her husband being inconsiderate and keep criticizing her husband.

In any conversation, if it is safe, the two parties are willing to share their inner feelings, weaknesses, worries and other personal information contributing to a constructive exchange or decision-making.  During an unsafe heated argument, the two parties may attack, defend, withdraw or hide, without the willingness to share important inner issues constructively.

Once we are aware that our conversation with a significant other is unsafe and entangled, we should step out from the conversation and start to reflect. We need to reflect what do we really want for the other person, the relationship, and ourselves. For the above example, the husband may start to reflect that what he really wants is a relaxed evening with his wife. The wife may also realize that she also wants the same. In this way, both parties can start to recreate a safe conversation and discuss how they can achieve their needs together.

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