Category Archives: Relationships

How To Cool Down Arguments

Sometimes a good fight clears the air. Too often, though, heated arguments just hurt a relationship. One or both of you say mean words that you can’t take back. Feelings get hurt. Resentment builds.

This is not to say that you’re supposed to sit on your feelings or that you shouldn’t get angry. Anger is a part of life, and it certainly comes up in every relationship. It’s just a question of how you manage your anger.

“Pause” is the key word. Not “stuff your feelings” but pause, step back and think. Buy yourself some time. You can teach yourself to stop, go inside yourself, and practice a healthy self-restraint.

“Sounds good,” you say, “but how in the world do I do this in the heat of the moment?”

The first step starts long before the argument begins. Decide that, from now on, you’re not going to go to that destructive place. A decision like this is powerful and can help you remember to stop when things start to go out of control. If you argue frequently, remind yourself daily that you’ve decided to practice self-restraint because you love your partner. And because you want to become more mature.

The second step also takes place before an argument. Take responsibility for your own misbehavior. It’s too easy to blame your partner and see him or her as “the problem.” We have a harder time realizing that we are the problem the moment we begin to blame. Fortunately, we are also the solution.

If you do these things, during an argument you won’t so readily indulge the feeling that this other person is wrong and that they need to agree with you. Just stop talking. Do this gently, without glaring or making a face. If your partner takes this as a hostile gesture, tell them you’ve just realized that you’re creating a problem with what you’re saying, and you need to take some time to compose yourself. When you’ve both calmed down, you can have a productive discussion about what made you angry.

This will take time and practice. Don’t judge yourself when you don’t “do it right.” Instead, give yourself a pat on the back for deciding to nurture your relationship and further your own growth.

The Unhappily Married Man

There lived a man who was absolutely miserable with his wife. Once deeply in love, over the years they first grew apart and later began to treat each other with contempt. They would have terrible arguments and then go for weeks in tense silence.

The man ruminated day and night about how to solve his dilemma. Divorce or separation was out of the question because of the customs of their land. Finally he began to ponder a most drastic solution.

He went to a wise elder in his town and said, “I hear that you’re able to mix up poisons that kill people slowly, so that no one will suspect foul play. You must make up some poison for me so that I can give it to my wife. Living with her is unbearable, and the only way out of my misery is to kill her.”

“I think I can help you” the elder replied. “But I’m not sure you’ll be willing to pay the cost of this solution.”

“I’ll pay anything. Anything! Whatever you want from me, I’ll do it.”

“Very well,” the elder replied. “It will take me one month to prepare the poison. Give me no money now. The only thing I require of you is that during this next month, you treat your wife as though she was the most precious, lovely, desirable woman in the world.”

“What?!! I can’t do that! I hate her! It’s absolutely impossible to treat her as though I love her.”

“But you said you’d do anything to get your hands on the poison.”

The man swallowed hard, grimaced, and said, “Fine. I’ll do as you say. I’ll do anything to escape my misery.”

So the man bought some flowers and went home to face his wife. Sure enough, she greeted him at the door with a sneer of disgust.

“What are you doing with those flowers? They’re hideous. You’re hideous.”

“These are for you. I want to make peace.” He felt nauseous as he said the words, but he put the flowers in a vase and placed them on the table.

Over the next two weeks he spoke to her kindly every day, asked for her opinions, did the dishes, and tried his best to act as though he loved her. At first he could hardly bear to do these things, but he wanted the poison so much that he was willing to do anything. She responded at first with hateful words, then with silence. And strangely enough, it began to get easier for him to treat her well.

And even stranger, his wife began to be a little less hateful. And strangest of all, by the third week they were no longer enemies. And by the fourth week, they were enjoying each other so much that he forgot all about the poison.

A month or so later he encountered the elder on the street. “I have a package waiting for you,” the elder said.

The man looked at him, puzzled. “Don’t you remember?” the elder asked. “You asked me to make up some poison for you. For your wife. Why didn’t you ever come to collect it?”

The man shook his head in horror. “Poison my beautiful, wonderful wife? Never, ever in a thousand years could I do that!”

The elder smiled and walked away.