The tension is so thick you could cut it with a knife. You may not even be speaking to (or even looking at) one another, so how do you go about ending an argument without losing your dignity?
It all comes down to pride. Most of us have way too much pride and that is why it is so difficult to end an argument. With two prideful partners waiting for the other to make the first move, it could be a long, chilly wait! Here are my recommendations, they are not comfortable, but they absolutely do work . . .
Apologize For Your Part – Now I’m not talking about what I call the generic apology of “I’m sorry we fought.” That takes no ownership at all. And I’m not talking, necessarily, about the global apology of “I’m sorry.” (but if that’s all you can get out, then do it!). What I mean is . . . examine your part in the argument and apologize for your part. For example, “I want to apologize for raising my voice, calling you a name, and for storming out of the room when we fought last night.” You might even go so far as to say, “I know those behaviors are not helpful when we are fighting and I don’t want to be like that.” You don’t have to admit the point you were arguing was wrong, because maybe it wasn’t, but at least find what you did wrong in the argument and apologize for it! And please, please, please don’t follow it up with a “but . . . (here’s why I was right)”.
Sounds hard, doesn’t it? Well, it is, but it begins to carve a path between you and your partner. It is a starting point for healing; not just ending the fight, but actually resolving things (which may be completely foreign territory for some of us!) The next step is even harder. . .
Do Not Pressure Your Partner to Reciprocate – Often times when we apologize, we stand there expectantly waiting for our partner to reciprocate with all of their wrongdoings, then get angry when they don’t. I’m saying, don’t do it! Apologize for your part, then be done. You are apologizing because you are sorry for your part, not to manipulate your partner into giving you an apology! I know it is hard, but it is absolutely necessary to let your partner apologize when they are ready (if that ever happens).
Reach Out To Your Partner Physically – And no, I do not mean sex! When we have pulled away from our partner in an argument, we need to reconnect, emotionally and physically. Something very simple, such as reaching your hand out to your partner to see if they will hold it, or put your arms out offering a hug, may bridge the gap between you. You make the gesture, then let your partner decide if they are ready to reconnect. If they refuse, don’t take it personally, they are just not ready yet. When we are hurting, the comfort of physical touch may be all that is needed to lower our prideful walls and bring back our soft, tender feelings towards one another.
If these techniques don’t work, try again later, but make sure you are doing it with the right spirit. Pride will drive you and your partner away from one another, while humility will bring you together. The reason? It is very simple: Pride inspires pride, humility inspires humility.