Tips to Help Couples Blend Styles Without Bickering
Yes, let’s face it, even in the best of relationships, couples are bound to bicker here and there. According to The Guardian, the most common topics couples fight about is sex, tidiness, different perspectives on an event (or false memory syndrome), critiquing the cook, and assigning blame. And when you are moving in together (big step!) you are bound to have one more reason to fight every now and then: You may have completely different visions on what you would like your home and personal space to look like!
While we’d all like to say none of these topics apply to our relationships, let’s admit that the occasional one does and, more often than night, a fight does occur. Even Seasons in Colour writer Jenny Kakoudakis and her husband ended up not talking when the latter's home office was painted black - an episode that is best documented here and which did not last long (the room was then repainted and wallpapered, as shown here).
In our relationship, I tend to over-react when things are not how I expect them to be. I don't like taking the blame at all. I am always quick to push it towards the husband even when it is crystal clear that he is right. (Jenny Kakoudakis)
Remind you of something? The problem isn’t your differing perspectives nor is it your needs and wants; it’s how you express these to your partner (and vice versa) that makes the difference. That said, read on to learn how you can blend your communication styles minus the blame and shame. Hopefully, this will help you also blend your interiors styles without much fuss!
1. Take the Myers Briggs Test
The Myers Briggs test is an infamous personality test that assigns individuals four letters based on of how they answer the questionnaire: introversion vs. extroversion, intuition vs. sensing, thinking vs. feeling, and perceiving vs. judging.
While no combination of four letters can peg down a person’s personality entirely—we all have different experiences, unique traits, and quirks—it can give a general insight into how you and your partner interacts and interprets the world.
I did the personality test out of curiosity and could not believe the results. I was being described in great detail. This was an eye opener and helped me learn a little about myself. Now, I have to get the husband to take one too!
You may be surprised to learn that your partner has one, two, three, even four functions that are different from yours. In which case, it may explain some of the reasons why you both resort to a passive aggressive shot or two over the dirty dishes. Or why you’d rather spend an evening out with friends versus cozying up on the couch with a good book.
Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash
2. How Important Is This?
On a scale of one (the least important) to ten (the most important), how important would you rate going to that new Thai restaurant? How important is it to include that item in your Target registry — Blueprint Registry? One to ten, what do you rate seeing buying the blue versus the grey sofa?
If you and your partner cannot reach a decision, use the rating system, where you go with the higher rating. This will save you time; instead of bickering at the front door, you’ll be off arm and arm to buy this green sofa.
Photo by Pablo Heimplatz on Unsplash
3. What Are Your Partner’s Needs and Wants?
Sit down with your partner and have an honest conversation about each other’s needs and wants, and how those can be met in your relationship.
While we may like to believe our partners can meet every one of our needs and wants all the time, let’s admit no single person can do that for us (which is why a little compassion goes a long way). That’s not to say you shouldn’t have this discussion and you shouldn’t strive to be the best partner you can be.
That said, sometimes you may not know what you need or want. Contrary to popular belief, this is fairly normal and, with a little help, you can be well on your way to pegging those needs and wants down.
How to Identify Your Needs
Be Sherlock Holmes and play detective in your life. Notice the types of feelings and thoughts that go through your head at work, talking with your partner…
When you feel angry, pay attention to it. Perhaps there’s more to it than feeling angry that your partner forgot to empty the dishwasher…again. According to Psychology Today, anger tends to be a defensive emotion that covers up the more painful emotions you are feeling: loneliness, sadness, etc.
Notice what thoughts come up when you do become angry. Psychology Today goes on to state that if the thoughts are externalizing—in other words directed at others or the outside world— redirect the thoughts back to you and you may discover an unconscious belief that has been running through you.
Maybe that accusatory thought about your partner not emptying the dishwasher for the umpteenth time reflects something about you and your needs (security, love, competence…)?
If the situation is unbearable to get a better understanding of you and your partners’ needs and wants, it may be best to talk with a license couple’s therapist.
Photo by Vladimir Kudinov on Unsplash
Final Thoughts: Say Goodbye to Bickering
Bickering can occasionally flare its ugly head even in the more secure of relationships. To tame it and create an even stronger relationship, communicate, communicate, communicate.
While these tips are a start in the right direction, it is fine—and even recommended—to see a licensed couples’ therapist for an extra relationship boost. What tips do you have to add? How have you handled bickering your relationship? Leave a comment below.