We all speak different languages. Learn how to speak your SO’s. Read More...

Before Gary Chapman published The 5 Love Languages in 1995 partners have been struggling to try and decipher each other.

“Why does she touch me like that?”

“Why won’t he touch me like that?”

“Why does she say those things?”

“Why doesn’t he stop talking?”

The arrival of a manual helped couples learn how to better communicate. After all, the way we communicate love differs from person to person. You might need a translator to ensure that you and your partner aren’t constantly unhappy due to misunderstandings.

On one hand, it may seem ideal to have a partner who has the same love language as you. On the other, it could lead to a boring, one-dimensional relationship.

To be fair, though, having a partner with a different love language is a challenge. You both want certain things that the other may not be able to give — or they just may not understand what you’re asking for.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Better understanding your partner’s love language can lead to better communication. When you start to speak your partner’s love language, they’ll start to speak yours. Then, you have better communication, which leads to more happiness — and more and better sex.

That’s when it gets fun. Speaking your partner’s love language doesn’t have to suck. It can prove very rewarding for both of you. So, let’s better understand each of the languages of love.

Language of affirmations.

The best three words in the world to hear are, “I have wine.” The second best three words are “I love you.” This is especially true for people who speak the love language of affirmations.

Speaking this language may be the easiest of all, and words aren’t necessarily required to speak this language. Sure, a quiet “I love you” whispered in the ear in morning is nice. Those can never be discounted – not even if you don’t speak the love language of affirmations.

However, a simple text mid-day that says, “How’s your day?” does wonders. “I’ve been thinking about you” will send them through the roof. Go to Hallmark.com and send your word-affirming partner an e-card telling them how you feel, and you’ll be the week’s biggest winner.

Satisfying a person who desires words of affirmations only requires remembering to say, send, write or text a thoughtful sentence once in a while.

Language of quality time.

Lovers who speak the love language of quality time love spending time with their partner – whatever they’re doing, regardless of what they’re doing. This can be anything from lying in bed to watching a movie to spending the day at a theme park.

The time spent together can be easy or complex. It doesn’t matter. Personally, this is my second strongest love language. Whether we’re binging Netflix, each working our own jobs in the same room, or drinking wine on our balcony, I love simply spending time with the person I love.

The best combination of partners may just be those who prefer quality time and those who prefer touch because hours spent touching each other makes both partners happy. Maybe as important as matching yourself with a partner who fits with your astrological sign is matching with a partner who fits your language of love.

Language of touch.

We’re all familiar with the love language of touch. If you were an alien who did nothing but watch television and movies on your first visit to earth, you’d think touch was the only love language of your new human friends.

The love language of touch isn’t only about lovemaking. This kind of language includes holding hands, snuggling on the couch, spooning in bed, running your fingers through your partner’s hair, massages, and more.

These people love holding hands. They appreciate a kiss on the forehead. Of course, don’t discount the sexual touching. Never. Discount. Sex.

Touching this person the right way at the right time will never suck, but . . .

Language of gifts.

You may think that lovers who speak the language of gifts keep the economy going, but that’s not entirely true. It’s also not true that those speaking this love language are materialistic. Gifts for these lovers don’t need to be expensive or even bought. They simply need to be thoughtful.

The person who speaks the love language of gifts want to know someone – you – care for them. This can be done with small gestures, such as a homemade card, a flower picked on your way home, a kiss wrapped with a bow on it.

Give a thoughtful gift to this person and they’ll shower you with all the love they can give.

Language of service.

The person who speaks the language of love isn’t looking for a Lady in Waiting or a Gentleman of the Bedchamber (here). This person appreciates when their love does for them something they can do for themselves.

This one hits home. I love cleanliness. I love when my condo is spotless. I love when there are no dishes in the sink. I love, love, love clean sheet night.

Not long ago, our Mini Cooper was filthy. Denver had a bunch of snow, and with the snow, sludge, and de-icers our Mini was a mess. When the roads and weather permitted, my husband had our car thoroughly cleaned inside and out. I was the happiest driver on the road, and this half hour and $30 investment showed me a special kind of love.

The language of service, however, is not all about cleaning. It’s holding the door open. It’s picking up the laundry. It’s making dinner. It’s taking the kids out of the house, so your partner can soak in the tub and read a good book in quiet.

Show the love of service with your partner and your lover is sure to stick with you through thick and thin.

As you can see, your S.O.’s love language doesn’t suck when you understand the kind of love they need. In fact, giving your lover the love they need will give you the love you need.

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Persistent, but innocent or completely inappropriate behavior? Here’s how you can tell. Read More...

With the recent upswell of sexual harassment allegations both in Hollywood and Washington, victims of sexual abuse are starting to come out of their shells. Sexual misconduct isn’t happening more often, but victims now feel emboldened to share their stories and name the people who have mistreated them.

But for every victim stepping forward, there are still plenty who remain silent – often because they don’t fully understand the line between harassment and flirting. Sexual misconduct has always been vaguely defined by the masses, but that definition is starting to crystallize as the public turns to address the epidemic.

Like many women, I’ve experienced my fair share of sexual harassment, both in the workplace and elsewhere. Here’s where I draw the line.

What is the difference between flirting and sexual harassment?

The line between flirting and sexual harassment can seem hazy. What’s innocent and flirty to one person may be totally inappropriate to someone else. A kind smile can seem lewd to its recipient.

To me, the difference between flirting and sexual harassment is the frequency with which it occurs, as well as any escalation in the nature of the behavior. For example, telling me I’m pretty once is flirting – repeating it multiple times becomes sexual harassment. This is especially true if I’ve made it clear I have no interest in the other person.

When you view it that way, it’s easy to see the line between flirting and harassment. Men don’t have to worry about being accused of wrongdoing if they don’t continuously try to woo an obviously disinterested woman.

However, flirting can automatically become sexual harassment when it’s done by someone in a position of power. For example, I used to intern at a local magazine where the editor-in-chief had a reputation for pursuing the young interns. His actions were so widespread that multiple people warned me before I started working there.

Sure enough, a few weeks into the gig, the editor approached one of the interns and asked her out for a drink. She said no because she wasn’t 21 yet, and we tried to convince her to complain to HR about it.

“But he didn’t do anything bad,” she told us. “Maybe it was just going to be a friendly drink.”

At the time, I didn’t have the proper context for why an editor asking out an intern is problematic, but now I know. If you have authority over someone, treating them like a sexual object is always sketchy. They can’t say no without worrying about what it could do to their career.

The legal definition of sexual harassment.

According to the U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, sexual harassment not only includes sexual comments or physical advances, but also general statements about one particular sex. For example, if a male coworker complains that all women are golddiggers, that’s sexual harassment.

The EOEC says sexual harassment becomes illegal “when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision (such as the victim being fired or demoted).”

Anyone can be a harasser, including a vendor, client, peer or boss. The harasser can be your same gender and have a similar or different sexual orientation from you. So yes ladies, you can be accused of sexual harassment just as much as men.

What you can do.

If you’re being sexually harassed in the workplace, the first step is to document everything. Successful cases are made when the accuser has details, such as where and when the harassment occurred and what exactly was said and done. It can also help to share what happened with people you know who can back you up.

After you’ve documented the instances of harassment, it’s time to go to your human resources department. Tell them you’d like to file a sexual harassment report and bring all the details with you. It’s even better if you have concrete proof, such as texts, emails or voicemails. The stronger your evidence, the more likely it is people will believe you and take action.

Don’t stop writing down what happens after the sexual harasser has stopped bothering you. It’s important to note what your company does in response, in case you want to sue them later on.

If you report sexual harassment to HR, you should know that many companies don’t punish people who are accused of sexual harassment. In fact, sometimes the person reporting it has to deal with blowback if the person blamed is popular or has significant clout in the office.

It’s also OK if you don’t feel like reporting it, just like my friend decided not to back in the day. Not every company has a strong history of defending accusers and reporting it can be more traumatizing than the initial interaction. Do what makes sense for you and your mental health.

What are your feelings or experiences on this timely topic? Let us know in the #Adulting Facebook community.

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One person wants kids, the other doesn’t. It isn’t hopeless but it will take some work to get through it. Here are your options. Read More...

In relationships, it’s often our differences that bring us together. A creative type might be drawn to someone with a blue collar background and a handyman skill set. A hardcore fantasy fan might be intrigued by a nonfiction lover. Even Yankees and Red Sox fans have been known to get along.

But there’s one difference that hardly ever jives with a healthy relationship: whether or not you want kids.

The need to have children is so hardwired in some people, it can be hard for them to grasp why anyone would forego the chance to pass on their genes. People on the other side of the spectrum might have trouble understanding the allure of changing diapers or going days without sleep.

It’s a contentious issue – so why do people wait so long to bring it up?

If you’re currently in this situation, it’s time to take action. Here’s what you need to do.

Discuss the issue.

It’s easy to bury your head in the sand about this topic. After all, who wants to talk about something as complicated as having children when you could debate what you think will happen on the next “Game of Thrones” episode?

Unfortunately, this is the kind of potential problem that needs to be discussed as soon as possible. If you’re a woman who wants kids and are married to or in a relationship with someone who doesn’t, you can’t wait forever. Female fertility goes down significantly after 35 and the chance of genetic disorders and other problems also increases. If you’re approaching 30, you can’t just ignore the problem for a few years.

Try talking about the question of children together and see where you both stand. If your partner mentioned a few years ago that he wants kids, it’s entirely possible he’s changed his mind since then. If you talk about your priorities early and often, there’s little chance you’ll be blindsided by a change of heart.

Couples who have been together a long time should consider seeing a therapist. They can help flesh out the issue, offer some perspective and lay out the best options for moving forward. For example, are you really averse to having a child because you’re scared that your partner won’t help shoulder the burden? Even if you’re sure you know the reasons why you don’t want kids, it might be easier to discuss the issue with a professional

For example, are you really averse to having a child because you’re scared that your partner won’t help shoulder the burden? Even if you’re sure you know the reasons why you don’t want kids, it might be easier to discuss the issue with a professional present.

Talk about other options.

If breaking up is not something you want to do, there might be a few ways to compromise. For example, you could look into temporarily fostering a child to see if it fulfills your partner’s parental instinct. Fostering is an intense process and a new home can have a permanent affect on a child, but placements are temporary and can let you both see what it’s like to be parents without making a permanent decision.

Fostering is an intense process and a new home can have a permanent affect on a child, but placements are temporary and can let you both see what it’s like to be parents without making a permanent decision.

You could also consider adopting an older child, if you’d rather skip the diapers-and-midnight-feedings stage of parenting.  If you want to start really slowly, try babysitting for a friend or relative to see how it feels before you decide to foster or adopt a child.

You can also talk to people you know who have children and aren’t afraid to share how it really feels to be a parent. These options should not be taken lightly, especially not as a direct replacement for having your own child.

Too much of what we see on TV and in film romanticizes the act of parenting and doesn’t prepare people for what being a mother or father actually means. Plenty of people want kids right up until the point where they actually have them, so make sure you’ve put real thought into the decision. Becoming a parent should be a conscious act, not a product of biological urges.

Take action.

The easiest decision to make is to maintain the status quo. Our comfort zone is soft and cozy, and disrupting it comes with challenges. Unfortunately, if you’ve discussed having a child and haven’t agreed on a decision you and your partner will be happy with, it might be time to say goodbye.

Everyone deserves to try for the life they want, whether it’s filled with babies and diapers or exotic vacations and late nights out. That’s not to say you can’t go along with your partner’s wishes for the good of the relationship, but make sure it’s a decision you buy into.

Don’t lie to yourself or your spouse if you truly can’t see yourself having kids and being happy, or vice versa. The longer you wait to reveal the truth, the worse the break-up will be.

How to prevent this.

It’s always hard to find someone you like, only to break things off because of a difference in priorities. Still, it’s a lot easier to break up with someone three months into the relationship than three years. Even if you’re worried the question will scare away potential mates, consider how much easier it will be to break up before you’ve moved in, met his parents and adopted a pet together.

Bring up your child-free status whenever you feel comfortable, but do it sooner rather than later. It never feels like the perfect time to discuss a sticky subject, so be prepared to feel awkward no matter how you approach the conversation.

Have you or someone you’ve known been in this situation? Let’s talk about it over in the #Adulting Facebook community!

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Fighting with your S.O. and constantly exchanging verbal barbs is a quick way to a short, unhappy relationship. Get beyond that. Read More...

Relationships are all about communication.

Deep bonds don’t form from nothing. They’re a result of a continuing exchange of ideas, emotions, and synergistic thinking. Even people who don’t share a common language can find ways to meaningfully interact.

If communicating is central to forming relationships, why is it so damn hard? The fact is, human minds are so unique that finding common ground can be like putting together a puzzle without a picture of the finished product.

That’s why long-term relationships are so special. When you spend enough time with someone, you can start to see how your personalities fit together harmoniously – or not so harmoniously. Sometimes you can see that the puzzle pieces fit, but struggle to put them together.

Ready to get beyond the drama? Here are some ideas for solving communication problems with your significant other.

Aim to understand.

One of the most frustrating moments in a fight is when one or both people aren’t listening to the other. It’s impossible to solve a disagreement if you’re not trying to see your partner’s point of view.

Your goal during an argument should be to understand your partner better and find some common ground. Learning how your partner thinks and feels is the key to a closer bond.

Too often, we treat the situation as if the goal is winning. Once you’re in that mindset, you both end up losers.

Solution: When your partner is talking during a fight, concentrate on what they’re saying and not how you want to respond. No matter how inane or illogical you think their argument is, try to listen before you say anything.

Let your guard down.

Getting defensive is a natural response if your partner brings up a difficult topic.

Does anyone really feel comfortable discussing something difficult, even with the person they love?

But defensiveness can close you off from the conversation. Instead of hearing what your partner is saying, you’ll only hear your skewed interpretation of what they really mean. If your husband tells you, “You forgot to take out the trash again,” you might hear, “You’re so irresponsible and don’t do enough around the house.”

Solution: Don’t project your own feelings onto what your partner is saying. It’s not fair to assume you know what they’re saying, and it can only lead to more discord.

When your partner is talking, listen to only what they’re saying. Get away from what you’re feeling. If you need to, repeat it back to them so you clearly understand. Then, calmly respond to the statement they made or question they asked.

Don’t use “all or nothing” language.

When trying to win an argument, you want to present the strongest case possible. But you have to stick to the facts. If you exaggerate or overstate something, it’s hard for the other person to take you seriously.

It’s also unfair to generalize your partner’s behavior as all-around bad. Behavior exists on a gray spectrum, and living in a black-and-white world during a fight reduces their actions to a trope.

Plus, you shouldn’t be trying to “win” anyway. This should be an exchange of ideas with the intent to understand.

Solution: Don’t use words like “always” and “never” in an argument. It’s easy for your significant other to argue against that, because there’s always an exception. Those types of words can and will make them make feel defensive. 

Solving communication problems is about helping each other understand, not forcing each other into semantic battles.

Don’t wait until the last minute.

Communicating with your significant other is like taking out the trash. If you wait until the bag is overfilled, it’s harder to get it out the container. You find yourself wishing you’d dealt with it sooner.

When you get upset at your partner, bring it up that day. If you wait, the issue can fester and rot like the trash in my analogy. The sooner you broach the issue, the less upset you’ll be.

Solution: Bringing problems is hard to do and easy to avoid. Practice saying something beforehand so you feel more confident in your message.

You can try writing a script before you talk to your partner, or ask a friend how you could better phrase the issue. After doing this a few times, you’ll see that mentioning something in the beginning is much easier than waiting until you’re ready to explode.

Avoid name-calling.

Some people assume it doesn’t matter what they say in the heat of the moment as long as they apologize for it later. But apologies are like knee replacements: they temporarily fix the problem but don’t erase the damage.

Name-calling can be tempting when you’re in a screaming match, but doing so can lead to hurt feelings and resentment that isn’t so temporary. Your partner might never really forget the day you called her a stupid bitch.

This does nothing when it comes to solving communication problems.

Solution: If staying cool during a fight is too hard, take a walk alone and collect your thoughts. If your partner name-calls, don’t try to one up their comment. Use that moment to explain that you don’t appreciate what they said, or find it helpful.

It’s never easy to work through these issues. However, if you want a better relationship, solving communication problems with your partner is vital. Otherwise, you end up in a situation where you end up with someone you hate — or you break up to get away from the problems.

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It’s hard to say no, but sometimes you have to for reasons. You’re still a good person. Read More...

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How many times have you said yes to someone — and then wished you hadn’t?

We all want to say no when we feel overwhelmed, or really don’t want to do something. And yet, we find ourselves saying yes.

It’s even harder to say no when you are facing a request from a loved one.

Sometimes, you need to say no to protect your sanity, your health, and your time. If you have an addiction to saying yes, it’s time to break it. We’ll show you how.

Concepts

  • Some of the reasons it’s difficult to say no to loved ones.
  • Concerns about how you look to others, and why that makes it hard to say no.
  • The problems with saying yes just to avoid conflict.
  • Ways that saying yes all the time can actually hurt you — and your relationships.
  • The important role saying no has in self-care.
  • Dealing with saying no to your kids and being a parent.
  • Practical tips for how to say no to loved ones without offending them.
  • Strategies for buying yourself time and space to say no.

This week’s “do nows” focus on how you can get a better handle on your situation. We offer tips on how to say no, and strategies for practicing saying no. You can make an effort this week to stop saying yes to everything. Stick with your priorities and say no to things that will just add stress to your life.

Our listener question deals with the thorny issue of making accommodations in a relationship. Should you say yes to avoid being dumped? Or is it time to make serious changes to your relationship so you aren’t being steamrolled all the time?

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Resources

Why is it so hard to say no?

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Disagreeing with your parents is just fine. Do it in a way that doesn’t make them see you as a perpetual child. Read More...

When you’re raising a child, arguments seem pointless.

Why should anyone have to suffer through a squabble about why their 14-year-old can’t stay out until 2 a.m.?

When you spend a good decade or so having the kinds of disagreements that make you want to scream, it’s easy to develop a dismissive attitude toward your child’s opinions.

But as parents age and children become adults, the lines start to blur.

All of a sudden, the child starts to make sense – maybe even a little more sense than the parent is comfortable with. How should that transition be handled?

Most of these conversations revolve around how the parent in question can accept their child as a bona fide adult.

But what about from the other perspective? The adult child’s role in a disagreement is just as important – and just as tricky to navigate.

If you’re ready to start parsing parental conflicts in a more effective way, read ahead for some tips on how to make it happen.

Stay calm.

There’s a reason why “Keep calm and carry on” has become a viral phrase in the last few years. Staying calm is a vital tool – one that precious few people use correctly.

It won’t help your case to yell or get emotional, even if you’re in the right. Staying calm will help you to present clear, focused arguments and avoid getting sidetracked.

Try to be the bigger person. Even if your parents are calling you names, trying to avoid the conversation or refusing to acknowledge your point of view. It doesn’t help to get worked up. If anything, it will just feed into the idea that you’re not mature enough.

When disagreeing with your parents, you need to stay on the higher ground.

Avoid all or nothing statements.

Avoid all or nothing phrases like “you always” or “you never” when arguing. Accusing your mom or dad of doing something 100% of the time is a sure-fire way to put them on the defensive.

Instead, bring up specific examples and use words like “sometimes” or “occasionally.”

When you use “all or nothing” thinking, you cut yourself off from seeing their point of view. You turn your parents into caricatures of themselves instead of well-rounded people who make mistakes.

This approach is important in any argument, but especially during a time where both parties are trying to develop a more nuanced view of the other.

Take a step back if you find yourself doing this when disagreeing with your parents. An argument can quickly turn from a productive disagreement to a petty squabble when one side or the other goes down the rabbit hole of dramatic statements and accusatory language.

Stay focused.

Family matters come with decades of baggage that hasn’t been fully unpacked. It’s easy to get sidetracked during a heated argument and think about every perceived injustice you’ve ever suffered.

Stay focused on what you’re talking about. If you’re complaining about how they forgot to ask about your recent work promotion, don’t bring up the time in seventh grade when they missed your school play.

Part of the difficulty of disagreeing with your parents is convincing them to see you as a fellow adult instead of a kid. If you bring up something from your childhood, accomplishing that is going to be very difficult.

It’s frustrating to stay on track when you feel like you have more ammo in your bag, but piling on doesn’t validate an argument. It’s only makes the other person more defensive and less sympathetic to what you’re saying.

Pick your battles.

You can’t disagree on everything if you want a happy relationship with your parents. Even though it might hurt your jaw to grit those teeth, you’ll be happier in the long run if you let some things go.

For example, if your parents eat red meat every day and you’re a staunch vegetarian, don’t bring up the horrors of factory farming when you’re visiting for Christmas. No one wants to be insulted in their own house, and it’s probably not a stand worth taking.

If they criticize or make fun of your vegetarianism, then it’s time to speak up. In general, try to notice the difference between defending your sovereignty as an adult and looking for an excuse to pick a fight.

Create and enforce boundaries.

Remember when you were a teenager and how fiercely you protected your bedroom? No one could go in without your consent. Doing so was a violation of privacy.

That’s how your mind should be. No one can make you upset or force you into a discussion without you agreeing to it. For example, if you don’t want your parents to criticize your parenting skills, shut that topic down as soon as it comes up.

Setting those mental and emotional boundaries will make it easier to stop questions from turning into arguments.

If your mom disagrees with your decision not to breastfeed your child, simply say, “This is my decision, and I’m not going to discuss it with you further.”

If she tries to keep poking you, repeat that sentence. Eventually, she’ll get the message. Parents generally mean well, but they won’t know they’ve stepped over a line unless that line is clearly and consistently drawn.

This strategy is a larger representation of how to disagree with your parents in general. Make it a habit to be respectful of yourself and your parent’s opinions, and things will get easier.

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How well do you resolve differences in your relationship? Talaat and Tai McNeely share their story of conflict and resolution and offer great relationship advice about communication. Read More...

Once in a while, we present Adulting.tv LIVE! Subscribe on YouTube to hear about future events, and share your questions about or suggestions for our next discussions!

Harlan L. Landes and Miranda Marquit welcome Tai and Talaat McNeely. The guests open up about their struggle with communication about finances early in their relationship, and how they overcame obstacles as a couple. Their story is inspiring, and the guests are candid in their sharing of their mistakes as well as the lessons they’ve learned.

Communication is the most important piece of any relationship, and in this episode, our guests share the tools that have helped them — and others they’ve coached — survive and thrive within a relationship.

This episode is essential watching for anyone in a relationship, and the tools and tips are effective for resolving more than differences about just money.

Talaat and Tai McNeely, “America’s #1 Money Couple,” are financial educators that are on a mission to get individuals and couples on the same page financially, and to experience the joys of financial freedom. They are co-authors of Money Talks: The Ultimate Couple’s Guide To Communicating About Money. They are also the hosts of the top rated podcast, The His and Her Money Show. Talaat and Tai McNeely (His and Her Money) have been featured in numerous publications such as T.D. Jakes Show, FoxNews.com, MSN.com, Essence, and Business Insider.

Watch the video above or listen to just the audio by using the player below.

Hosted byHarlan Landes and Miranda Marquit
Produced byadulting.tv
Edited and mixed bySteven Flato
Music bybensound.com

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Can’t we all just get along? Unfortunately, with family, this isn’t always what happens. Here’s what you need to know about managing conflicts with family. Read More...

The best way to support Adulting.tv is to subscribe and leave us an honest review. Thank you!

The holiday season just ended. How did you survive?

Many families dread the holidays because of family disagreements. These past holidays might have been especially trying, thanks to the election.

And, even though you’ve navigated the holidays, there’s a good chance you still need to see family members at a major gathering. Sunday dinner? Grandma’s 80th birthday party? A family reunion in the summer?

At some point you’re going to have more conflicts with family. This episode will help you get through it.

Concepts

  • How emotion and identity impact the way we talk about difficult subjects.
  • The difficulty of seeing family when you spend more time with friends who might agree with you more.
  • Concerns about how “being right” and a “team” mentality can make it hard to talk about thorny issues.
  • Tips for setting the stage for civil and polite conversation rather than conflicts with family.
  • Ideas for defusing a difficult “conflicts with family” situation when it arises.
  • The importance of avoiding big discussions on social media.
  • The reality of our interconnected world and how it contributes to conflicts with family.

Listen to our “do nows” for ideas on what you can do to take action to avoid or help defuse conflicts with family. We also answer a listener question about religious tensions in family settings.

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Resources

Don’t let politics spoil your family holiday
Families dread holidays after election
Hosted byHarlan Landes and Miranda Marquit
Produced byadulting.tv
Edited and mixed bySteve Stewart
Music bybensound.com

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We all have arguments with the people we love. But that doesn’t mean it’s ok to fight dirty. It’s much better if you fight fair. Read More...

There’s nothing quite so disorienting as fighting with someone you love.

It’s easy to imagine a civil disagreement in the abstract, but actually remaining calm and collected in the heat of the moment is a tall order.

Even the best relationships break down under the weight of petty disagreements. No matter if everything else about a partnership is in good shape, communicating poorly during a fight is a recipe for disaster. Navigating conflict is just part of the deal when you decide to link your life with someone else.

As obvious as that might sound, it’s an issue that multitudes of people struggle with.

How can you fight fair while still asserting yourself?

Stay on message.

Getting off track is easy during an argument. Emotions are running high, and it’s easy to start bringing up every single thing your partner has done wrong. Don’t.

You shouldn’t pile on during a disagreement. Stick to the discussion at hand no matter how mad you feel, and try to encourage your partner to do the same.

Bringing up past issues only derails the conversation and makes it harder to move forward. It also creates an element of distrust, a seed that can destroy even the strongest relationship. If your partner feels you can’t truly forgive them for something they’ve done, how can they trust you going forward?

Keep your emotions in check.

The more you restrain yourself during an argument the less work it will take to mend hurt feelings. It’s never ok to name-call, yell, or throw things at your partner.

Part of loving someone is being respectful at all times – especially when you’re fighting.

Keep your guilt and shame in check. If the argument is about something you did, don’t let self-pity take over. Negative thoughts only make you feel worse about yourself, which isn’t a productive attitude to have during a fight.

The argument or discussion you’re having is a separate incident. It shouldn’t represent you or your partner as a whole. Learn to understand the difference and you’ll feel better when disagreements crop up and be better equipped to fight fair.

If you feel emotional, it’s ok to ask for a few minutes to cool down. Write down your thoughts in a journal or take deep breaths can help you decompress, especially if you’re feeling overwhelmed. Taking time to settle down can be the difference between a fight that’s resolved quickly and one that drags on for days.

Assume the best.

Often, disagreements start because one person makes an unfair assumption about their partner. For example, an old boss of mine told me how every morning his partner left his dresser drawers open. It drove him crazy that his partner couldn’t bother to do something so simple.

He mentioned it once in passing, and his partner said he didn’t close them because he was worried the noise from the squeaky drawers would wake him up. It turns out that when he thought his partner was being lazy, he was actually being considerate.

Even if you’re sure your partner did something wrong, start the conversation with a non-accusatory tone. You might be pleasantly surprised at the outcome. Plus, your partner will appreciate you giving them the benefit of the doubt instead of assuming the worst.

Put yourself in your partner’s shoes.

Feeling defensive and ego-driven is normal during an argument, but it can hinder real resolution. Instead of trying to defend your actions, try to understand your partner’s perspective. This is essential if you want to fight fair.

For example, if you promised to register the car, forgot, and your partner ended up getting a ticket, imagine what he or she is thinking. They might be wondering if you’re truly dependable, and whether or not they can count on you when it matters.

Now imagine you’re on the other end of that argument. Maybe your partner was swamped with work, and registering the car got lost in the shuffle of appointments and assignments. Maybe they misunderstood who was responsible for getting it done.

Being more considerate of your partner during a conflict will only lead to a stronger connection and clearer communication. Plus, embracing someone else’s perspective will make you more humble.

Own your actions.

One of the best ways to resolve an argument quickly is to recognize when you’ve done something wrong – instead of trying to deflect blame and criticism.

The quicker you own up to what you did, whether it’s burning the cookies or forgetting to walk the dogs, the better off you’ll be. Fighting fair involves being humble in the face of your mistakes.

Consider going to a couple’s therapist if you or your spouse are having trouble understanding or following these guidelines. An objective third party might help you see your communication problems and figure out how to argue more productively.

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It’s time to dive deep. Can you have a major discussion without major drama? Read More...

At some point in a relationship, you move beyond the excitement of starting something new and into the reality that you might be “serious.”

When things get serious with your S.O., it’s time to discuss what’s important to you. It’s no fun to get deep into a committed relationship and realize that none of the most important things in your life line up with what your partner wants.

From kids to money to sex to values to priorities to religion, you should know what the other person wants — and you should know whether or not those important things are dealbreakers for you.

What matters to you?

Before you start grilling your SO about what’s important, you should have a good idea of what matters to you. I was young enough when I married that I hadn’t seriously thought about some issues. I was following a script, and even though there were a few things I knew about myself, I didn’t really know myself.

Later, when things bugged me, I didn’t know how to articulate them in a healthy way because I wasn’t entirely sure about who I was or what I really wanted. (That’s part of what happens when you follow someone else’s script.)

Before you start probing someone else, examine yourself. Learn who you are, and know what you love about yourself. Once you are clear about who you are and what you value, and what matters most to you, it’s time to discuss the Big Things with your S.O.

Don’t be judgy.

We all like our way best. However, not everyone is the same. Don’t be judgy if your partner prefers to stay at home instead of traveling somewhere new. And what happens if your S.O. doesn’t want kids? That’s not an invitation to assume some sort of emotional (or other) deficiency.

If you’re going to get deep and discuss what’s important with your partner, you need to ensure that you are both in a safe space. That means you accept that your partner’s values and priorities might be a little different than yours. And you don’t get personal about it.

And you don’t get personal about it. Wanting different things, to a different degree, doesn’t make someone bad or wrong. When discussing what matters, remember that you want a measure of grace for your own views. Respect is essential in any relationship. If you can’t discuss these hard, vital issues with respect, that’s a relationship red flag right there.

How much do you already know?

In many cases, you might already have a pretty good idea of where your partner stands on a lot of issues. You might have already discussed politics or you might be open about sex. Perhaps you’ve attended church with your SO or you can see how s/he spends (or doesn’t) money.

Pay attention. As your relationship develops, there are some things that become fairly obvious. You can even make a small comment if you want to start a deeper discussion:

  • “I love that you call your mom once a week. Family seems important to you. How often do you go for a visit?”
  • “You are so great with my nephew. Do you think you want kids at some point?”
  • “You seem really busy with the Bushwackers. I can tell that you are passionate about volunteering. What are some of your favorite causes?”
  • “I feel a little cash-strapped right now. What’s your favorite frugal activity?”

These are all ways you can ease into a conversation about the things that matter most in your life. A small observation can turn into a great discussion about what you hope for in life, as well as what matters to you right now.

You want to discuss what’s important with your SO because you want a good feel for whether or not you really can be true partners with this person you’re getting serious about. In some cases, with some things that might be less important, a relationship is about compromise. You’ll always need to do a little of that.

In some cases, with some things that might be less important, a relationship is about compromise. You’ll always need to do a little of that. It’s the way it is when you commit to share your life with someone.

When is it time to gtfo?

However, there are some BIG issues that aren’t ready-made for compromise or long-term partnership. You and your S.O. might agree that saving for retirement is vital, but what if you have fundamental disagreements over what that retirement should look like? It doesn’t do much good to save for retirement together if one of you plans to sell the house and travel the world while the other is excited to have the mortgage paid off so s/he can settle down “rent free” and be a homebody.

And very few relationships have solid staying power when one person wants lots of children while the other isn’t even sure if one is a good idea. These are the kinds of fundamental differences that lead to resentment in a relationship. You’re better off breaking it off for both your sakes than trying to make it work in the name of preserving passion.

What do you think? What are some of the dealbreakers in your relationships? And how do you talk about them with your SO?

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