UACES Facebook Arguing with Loved Ones can be Done without Destructing the Relationship
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Arguing with Loved Ones can be Done without Destructing the Relationship

Looking at these four patterns of conflictual interactions in your relationship could be helpful.

Nashville, Ark. – “If it doesn’t work out we can get a divorce.” Have you heard these words? Hopefully, not very often. Most of us go into a marriage believing our personal love relationship is special and will last forever.

            In Arkansas, approximately 40,000 couples make the commitment to marriage and start a new life together. Sadly, each year another 17,000 couples in Arkansas decide to call it quits and get a divorce. To add to the devastation caused by divorce, there are all the marriages that have gone sour, but the couple decides to stay together. Many just resign themselves to a miserable situation and try to make the best of it. But, there is a better alternative to either divorce or staying together in a miserable relationship.

            Evidence from several longitudinal studies of couples suggests that communication problems and destructive arguing are the biggest causes of relationship troubles. But, are there ways to improve communication and methods of arguing between you and your partner?

            According to John Gottman, author of the book, “The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work” escalation, invalidation, withdrawal/avoidance and negative interpretations are cited as four patterns of conflictual interactions that often lead to marital problems. Looking at each of these patterns in your own relationship could be helpful.

            First, do you let disagreements with your spouse escalate? This is easy to do. For example, do you start out disagreeing about something as simple as whether to change the temperature in the room? One wants it warmer; the other is fine with the current temperature. Before long, the argument moves up to how stingy one spouse is with money. Then it’s on to how the mother-in-law is far too tight with money and raised all her children to be the same. Feelings are hurt because a simple disagreement got out of hand. The problem escalated.

            Invalidation is another problem of arguing. Invalidation means you make your spouse feel that his or her thoughts, efforts, or feelings are wrong or worthless. This is an easy trick to do in a close relationship. For example, you work hard at cleaning up the yard. Your spouse gives you no praise, but instead points out some things that you could have done better. You are hurt. You may have the thought it is not worth it to even try.

Or, maybe you tell your spouse that you felt bad when someone at work questioned your honesty. Your spouse says that you are foolish to even pay any attention to the comment. You think that your marriage partner should know how you feel and have sympathy for you.

Third, do you withdraw when you get into a disagreement? In the example above when your spouse says you are foolish to listen to the person questioning your honesty, do you vow to never mention anything about work at home again? If you do that you are cutting off emotional support. A better plan would be to let the spouse know that you were hurt by his or her remarks.

Finally, do you make too many negative interpretations about what your spouse says? For example, one spouse comments that a neighbor’s lawn looks nice and green this year. This is a perfectly innocent remark with no hidden agenda behind it. But, the mate interprets this statement to mean that much more time should be spent on their own lawn.

Making a marriage work is not easy. It takes commitment and lots of patience. It is something you have to work at every day.

The University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture has a great publication free of charge that can help you work through some daily marriage concerns, The Marriage Garden. The publication was written by Dr. Wallace Goddard and Dr. James Marshall, Family Life Specialists with the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture. If you would like a free copy of this publication, contact the Howard County Extension Service at 870-845-7517 or visit our office located on the second floor of the courthouse.

Recipe of the Week

            Here is a recipe for you to enjoy one of fall’s great vegetables, sweet potatoes. While this recipe is for sweet potatoes, it can be adapted to fit almost any fall vegetable including okra, acorn squash, butternut squash, or carrots -- basically any dense vegetable.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes

4 small sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into wedges or slices

2 tablespoons olive oil

Optional seasonings: dried basil, oregano, garlic, ginger, cinnamon

            Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. On a baking sheet, arrange sweet potato wedges in single layer. Drizzle with oil and seasonings. Toss to coat. Roast about 40 minutes, turning potatoes until they are cooked and crisp.

By Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
421 N. Main St, Nashville AR 71852
(870) 845-7517


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