Relationship Rule to Break: It takes two to argue. . .

. . .and the partner doing the most talking is the one to blame.

The tension of arguments, defining and expressing our own differing opinions, comprises some of the real pleasures of being in a mature relationship. Run fast, however, from any relationship rule about arguments that encourages blame.

I know, I know, removing the finger-pointing arrow from our quivers can cause us to, ah – (sorry) – quiver. Alas, finding fault stands out glaringly as a cheap shot that falls short of a healthy relationship vision. When arguments devolve into all out combat, we might instinctively (read: mindlessly) guard ourselves at times by blaming. Let’s keep in mind, however, that our intimate relationships are not competitions. Misery reigns when we lose sight of the fact that we are on the same team.

Arguing and being together go together naturally, like, well, like a bow and arrow. Just keep in mind that, depending on our particular temperament, energetically we respond to tension in different ways. Some of us speed up and talk more when we are anxious; others shut down and say nothing. Neither approach is more blameworthy than the other. It’s just our way to deal. Unfortunately these minimizing or maximizing styles act as triggers that mask the real sources of tension and drive us apart.

Our true aim is to stay connected as we share the easy as well as the conflicted aspects of our lives. To do this we need to grow an emotional awareness, a centeredness that can admit to blind spots. Our work is to train our emotional vision to look more deeply beneath the layers of our own and our partner’s unconscious, reactive, protective behaviors; to look and find that at our core, each of us can be more vulnerable and authentic with each other. Of course, achieving this state requires a graced-centeredness that all of us want, but towards which most of us are stumbling. In my experience, real connecting takes courage, clear-headedness, and open-heartedness. All that takes skill and practice.

Instead of resorting to blaming one another myopically when our partner goes silent and becomes unavailable, (or louder and overbearing) we can talk ourselves down and find empathic ways to deescalate the tension. When we sharpen our emotional vision, blaming behaviors become clear markers of anxiety and we need to listen more closely to our partner. To lean in, look more deeply and address real issues? That’s a rule to keep and, in the world of relationships, that’s a bulls-eye!

Read more Relationship Rules to Break. Check back each Tuesday over the coming weeks to see more rules and why you should break them. You can also follow us on Facebook to get our latest articles directly in your newsfeed.