Saturday, December 20, 2014

How to Win Every Argument in Your Relationship

My father-in-law is harboring chickens in our house.

Caged in their bamboo homes with that distinct poultry smell, the chickens would cluck away in the most ungodly hours and attract all sorts of flies and crawlies nearby. They’re cute, though, the chickens. They would poke their heads at us every once and a while, and the little kids just love them whenever my husband’s brothers come visit.

What’s weird though is that they’re all hens, all of them. And as I stand there in the garage looking at them, these female chickens pecking at the floor with no mates to call their own, I feel a certain twinge in my chest.

My mother always said that she and my father fought all the time because of their Chinese zodiac signs. He was a “rooster” who liked to crow at her nonstop, and she was a “dog” who barked all the time. But we had a dog, too, once. He didn’t seem too happy to be alone, either.

Despite all the fighting and the tears and the storming out and the pain, we all need our relationships—arguments and all.

Now that I’m married, I’ve come to realize even more that regular little spats are normal. Sometimes, the issue is big or small and they come and go and resurface even though we think they’re long buried. While arguments will always be a part of married life (or any relationship for that matter), it doesn’t hurt to spare yourselves the pain, does it?

There is no one surefire way to win an argument. It all really depends on what you mean by “winning”. In fact, if all you really care about is winning an argument with your beloved, then you probably shouldn’t even be in a mature relationship, right? But for those who want to emerge victorious in different ways after a fight, following these steps guarantees that you’ll never have to “lose” an argument with your significant other ever again.

How to Score an Epic Win in an Argument

1.Make like the FBI.

You know how those really cool movies show FBI officers coaxing criminals out of hostage situations? That’s actually a thing they developed in real life called the Behavioral Change Stairway Model. Done properly, it can diffuse any argument and keep both parties satisfied with the results. Just because your partner isn’t wielding heavy weaponry doesn’t mean you can’t take a page out of the FBI’s hostage negotiation book, right?

a.Active Listening. Nothing’s worse than having someone dismiss you as you’re venting out all the pain in your heart. Listen to your beloved, and mean it.

b.Empathy. Understand where your partner is coming from. In Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, John Gray says that the first step in resolving conflict between men and women is acknowledging their differences. That’s the keyword right there: ACKNOWLEDGING. When your partner sees that you’re understanding how he or she feels instead of dismissing his or her legitimate issues, it opens up the next step.

c.Rapport. This is where your partner begins to trust in you again. And when they do…

d.Influence. Now’s your chance. You’ve earned the right to influence them, and they’re willing to listen to your side. They become more open to your recommendations and are willing to work on your problems together.

e.Behavioral Change. Finally, when you’ve both come to an agreement, your partner acts. You make up = You WIN.

See? Being addicted to those cop shows has its benefits. You can learn more about the FBI model here:

2.Walk it off.

I, for one, hate leaving in the middle of an argument. It pisses me off when my husband decides he doesn’t want to deal with our conflict right now and decides to “talk about it later.” I hate “later”. I always want to hash it out now, let my feelings out and pour out my heart and soul while the wound is still fresh.

Sadly, my hubby has a point. He says we can’t really talk properly when both of us are fuming mad. A psychology research in the States revealed that as soon as people recognize something that contradicts their personal opinions, logic and reason in the person’s brain literally shuts down. What’s left is the fight-or-flight response—which is why everyone gets defensive and hostile when an argument starts. Obviously, no one’s going to solve anything when logic is literally nowhere to be found.

So we take a break. He tells me he doesn’t want to say anything that might hurt me, and we mind our own business for a while. If I still feel like I need to vent, I write stuff down and delete them afterwards. We don’t rush off and spill our guts to our friends right away, because problems between the two of us should be kept and solved that way. Then, when we’re all cool and thinking clearly, we sit down and talk. All before we go to sleep. You cuddle = You WIN.

3.Talk is NOT cheap.

I’ve always been a firm believer that open communication is key to making any relationship work. I know that any issue can be talked about properly. Of course, it helps if your partner is willing to do the same. Bringing up past issues and opening up old wounds is easier said than done, so here’s where timing comes in. If you know your partner well enough, you can tell when it’s a good time to talk about something that’s bothering you. You can do it when an argument cools down, when you’re both feeling nostalgic, or when you’re stuck in traffic. That’s what long car rides are for, right?

Last week, hubby and I were getting into a heated discussion about our home safety. We had just come from an excruciating five-hour waiting period at the doctor’s clinic, and we would be on the road for about two hours more. We had nothing but time on our hands. So we hashed it out.

We ended up understanding each other better, coming up with compromises so that we wouldn’t have to argue about this same issue again, and stopping by a nearby noodle house during that cold, rainy day. Deliciously hot bowl of chicken noodles = You WIN.

4.Never underestimate the power of a hug.

A few weeks ago, my husband came home after a game to pick me up for dinner. We had an argument about getting ready, and such a small thing became such a big deal. Sometimes, even after all the talking and the crying and the letting-it-all-out, there is still something missing. 

This may not work for some people, but for me, I turn into putty in my husband’s arms. I told him that I waited for him because I wanted us to have dinner together, and he told me that was the reason he came home to pick me up in the first place—because he wanted to spend his dinnertime with me, too. No other words needed to be said—just a firm hug told me how much he loved me and how we were both just being silly.

We ended up scavenging for stale bread and leftover pieces of food in the fridge that night, but it was one of the most intimate meals we’d ever had. Dinnertime bonding = You WIN.

5. Let the little things go.

Being late. The insensitive comments. Forgetting to turn off the lights. And the classic—leaving the toilet seat up. There are so many little quirks that you and your partner will see in each other, and if you argue about every single thing, it will drive you both insane. Is your issue really worth ruining your day over? Let the little things go. Instead of zeroing in on the annoying things your partner does, focus instead on how blessed you are to have him or her in your life. And instead of nitpicking every little thing he or she says, step back and look at the big picture of what he or she is saying—their intentions might not be what you thought they were.

For instance, it really bothered me the other day when hubby called me out on something. When I compared myself to other people, he said, “I just believe that you’re much better than they are, that’s all.” And that shut me up. I was touched. Instead of getting mad at the stupid thing we were arguing about, I chose to revel in the fact that he holds me in such high regard. And he really should. J

So, boosted self-esteem = You WIN.

People handle conflict in different ways, and there are tons more stuff that you can do to diffuse an argument. Just keep in mind that winning doesn’t always mean you get to have the last word. When you and your beloved fight and make up with every issue solved and every conflict cracked, you enter into a more meaningful relationship and you take your love to a deeper level. And when that happens, really, you’ve already won.


  1. Great blog! Such a fun read!


    1. Haha thank you so much! I'm glad to have entertained you.:)

  2. I agree with you. :-)

    My wife and I are 7 months now and we experienced plenty of arguments. We managed to solve our differences by talking about it. We learn to compromise.

    And of course, we pray for each other.

    1. Yes, I do believe prayer is very important in a relationship as well. And of course, compromise! Thanks for sharing your thoughts. May you guys have a successful and blessed pregnancy!:)

  3. "When you and your beloved fight and make up with every issue solved and every conflict cracked, you enter into a more meaningful relationship and you take your love to a deeper level. And when that happens, really, you’ve already won."

    Thanks for the tips Cathy! Enjoyed reading this :)

    1. Haha thank you Joy dearest! Every argument should be a win-win situation LOL :p


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