How to handle an argument with your partner on an important day
It doesn’t matter whether you’re going to a wedding, birthday, or bar mitzvah – ‘big’ events can feel like a pressure cooker in any relationship.
Even Royals may not be immune, with a tense-looking pic snapped of Princess Kate Middleton and her husband Prince William on their way to the King’s coronation setting off a flood of gossip.
Whether they were really in a fight or not, we can certainly relate to being under pressure to get everything right on a big day.
And said pressure can easily make things with your partner get a bit… snippy.
Hayley Quinn, dating expert for Match, agrees that big event days can make for a ‘perfect storm’ for a tiff with your paramour.
She tells Metro.co.uk: ‘Whether it’s a wedding or a funeral, big days can be stressful.
‘The sheer amount of effort, planning, and money that goes into pulling one off (or attending one) creates a perfect storm to have an argument with your partner.’
If you do feel an argument brewing, Hayley says it’s really important to try and ‘park it’ if you can, and wait to discuss it when you’re both better able to articulate yourselves away from the pressure of the day.
‘If you’re in a real, long-term relationship, by now you’ll probably recognise the warning signals that an argument is about to spiral,’ she explains.
‘Use a silly “safe word” (e.g., “watermelon” or “amber flag”) to park the argument until later on when you have the time and mental space to deal with it.
‘You can also try verbally expressing things like: “I know you’re very upset right now, and I want to talk to you about it, can we create time to talk properly tonight?”‘
‘Although it is hard to temporarily “forget” that your partner has caused you hurt, it is sometimes necessary to concentrate your energies on what needs your attention immediately,’ says Counselling Directory member Georgina Smith.
‘Ideally, a promise to unpack [it later] should be made with as much respect as possible – so you can both feel soothed by the mutual postponing and promise of being heard later.
‘I wouldn’t advise expecting or demanding an apology until there has been further communication, and try not to let residual feelings around the argument ruin an important event that you will want to remember positively in years to come.’
But sometimes, no matter how hard you try, emotions will stay running high.
‘If the horse has already bolted,’ says Hayley, ‘and you’ve had an argument on a big day, still try to reconnect with your partner.
‘It takes a lot of humility to be the person who tries to reconnect, however, even something simple like a hand squeeze can let your partner know that even if you’re angry at each other right now, you still love them.
‘Cracking a joke or other physical displays of affection can also work well to lighten the mood (situation dependent).’
You can also try and take a quick break from the whole situation to clear your head and ease the tension between the two of you.
‘Changing the physical space you’re in or moving around can also help you both to snap out of an argument,’ advises Hayley.
‘A quick walk around the block, or if you’re at a wedding, hitting the dance floor, might help both of you to let it go.’
As for when to pick up the issue again, Georgina recommends waiting until the stress (and hangovers) from the event itself has passed, but not so long that resentment starts to fester.
‘I would suggest the next day,’ she advises. ‘If we leave it too long, it may never get addressed. But pick a time when you are both relatively calm and can give each other and the conversation your full attention.’
It can be easy to think of an argument as something to win, but that’s not functional with it comes to relationships.
‘Try to enter the conversation to seek resolution,’ says Georgina, ‘not to re-play the argument.
‘Try to be mindful of your feelings and how reactive you are being when unpacking, and avoid letting unhelpful anger or accusation get in the way. Aim to be empathetic and work hard to understand your partner’s point of view, avoid holding on to your own point of view as the “right” one.
‘As a couple’s counsellor, I see plenty of people who do not resolve arguments and avoid difficult unpacking conversations. If this is done consistently and repeatedly over time, this leads to resentment that can cause long-term damage.’
‘It is far healthier to re-visit if you can – this allows couples to move forward.’
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