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We need a lot of help in order to master the complex art of converting our poisonous argument into effective and compassionate dialogues.
An average couple will have between thirty and fifty significant arguments a year – and yet we’re seldom taught very much about why they happen and how they could grow a little less intense. This is a guide to arguments in love: it teaches us why they might occur, what their symptoms are, how we could learn some wiser ways of communicating and how we would ideally patch up after a fight.
Focusing on twenty common arguments – including sex, money, in-laws and the state of the bathroom – we recognise our own antics whilst learning how to skirt certain conflicts going forward. The tragedy of every sorry argument is that it is constructed around a horrific mismatch between the message we so badly want to send and the manner in which we are able to deliver it. A bad argument is a failed endeavour to communicate; this is a definitive guide to how we might argue better.
• A Brief History of Arguments
• 20 Types of Argument
• Towards Less Bitter Arguments
On The Defensive Argument
“Plato once outlined an idea of what he called the ‘just lie’. If a crazed person comes to us and asks, ‘Where’s the axe?’ we are entitled to lie and say we don’t know, because we understand that were we to tell them the truth, they would probably use the tool to do something horrendous to us. That is, we can reasonably tell a lie when our life is in danger. In a couple, our partner may not literally be searching for an axe when they ask us an inquisitorial question but psychologically this is precisely how we might experience it, which makes it understandable if we say we simply don’t know what they are talking about.”
On The Escalation Argument
“Areas of tension have not been correctly discussed, cleansed and ‘flushed out’, and so disappointments and ill feelings have been left to develop an energy, which has been waiting for too long to emerge. The person making the accelerated vindictive remark looks like they are being disproportionate and seems at fault for suddenly turning up the heat, but a dangerous wall of steam has been building up for which both parties are arguably responsible.”
On The Argument From Excessive Logic
“When we are in difficulties, what we may primarily be seeking from our partners is a sense that they understand what we are going through. We are not looking for answers so much as comfort, reassurance and fellow feeling. In the circumstances, the deployment of an overly logical stance may come across not as an act of kindness, but as a species of disguised impatience.”
The Love Series by The School of Life aims to be like an ideal friend around the dilemmas of the heart. Each title zeroes in on one of the central issues we’re liable to confront – from dating to heartbreak, from affairs to arguments. What unites the books is their combination of psychological insight, humanity and warmth: They lend us the advice and comfort we need to find the happiness we deserve.